Reaching net zero: Can the government afford it?

In October, the government announced its long-awaited net zero strategy, a complex and wide-ranging pathway to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

The government hopes the new plans will provide a clear roadmap for the economy to reorientate around a new green mission: To reduce emissions over the next three decades and to help limit global warming beyond 1.5c of warming. This threshold is cited by the IPCC as crucial in mitigating the worsening and intensifying effects of anthropogenic climate change. 

The key question now concerns whether the government can deliver on its promises. 

It is hard to put a true cost on net zero. The climate change committee estimates around £50 billion might be needed each year from 2030 onwards. National Grid projects it could cost as much as £3 trillion over the next 30 years. 

In this in-depth feature, Chris Lomas explores whether there is truly enough investment available to realise the government’s plans to fight back against the climate crisis.