National Audit Office says Government must reorganise to achieve Net Zero

5 December 2020

A new report from the National Audit Office (NAO) says that the UK’s commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions is a “colossal challenge” that needs a radical reappraisal of priorities. The report says that the Government “has yet to put in place all the essential components for effective cross‑government working, such as integrated planning and progress monitoring, and processes to manage interdependencies, to ensure all of government steps up to this challenge”.

The Government’s spending watchdog says that the UK will fail to meet the government’s targets for the years 2023 to 2027 and 2028 to 2032, which were set to establish a trajectory for reducing emissions by 80% over the next 30 years.

The NAO says the report is intended to support Parliamentary and public scrutiny of government’s arrangements for achieving net zero and is a companion to their recent report How government is organised to achieve its environment goals.


This report covers:
The scale of the challenge to achieve the net zero target, and the roles and responsibilities for achieving net zero within government (Part One); the coordination arrangements that bring together the different government departments involved in achieving net zero (Part Two); and the government’s plans for achieving net zero and the risks it needs to manage (Part Three). The NAO report says that while emissions have reduced steadily over recent years, particularly in the power sector, “achieving net zero will require wide-ranging changes across society and the economy at a pace which leaves little room for delay”.

Beyond these internal structures, it says, government also needs to spearhead a concerted national effort to achieve the ambitious outcome of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To do so, it needs to engage actively and constructively with all those who will need to play a part – across the public sector, with industry and with citizens – to inject the necessary momentum.

For more information, see the NAO’s main report page and links.

An Institute for Government report, published in September, addressing a similar issue came up with some similar proposals, concluding that the Cabinet Office should be made responsible for co-ordinating the plan and holding departments to account for delivery.