Royal Society responds to UK Net Zero Growth Plan

29 March 2023

Responding to the Net Zero Growth Plan, Sir Peter Bruce, Vice President of the Royal Society, said:

“We must dispel the myth that we have all the answers for the net zero transition ‘oven-ready’ and simply waiting to be deployed. 

“The Royal Society has been calling for an overarching strategy that identifies the research and innovation gaps that remain at each stage of this transition. These range from assuring technologies we deploy are delivering at scale, to the work on the next generation of technologies that will reach maturity in coming decades.

“While it is promising that the Net Zero Growth Plan includes a commitment to develop a net zero technology roadmap, the Government fails to grasp the urgency of having this in place by 2023 as recommended by Chris Skidmore MP.

“The announcement talks about making the UK an attractive base for companies developing sustainable aviation fuels to invest and grow. But the Society’s recent Net Zero Aviation Fuels report makes clear there are major research questions still to be answered. Many of the technologies that might support low carbon flying in future will also be important to unlocking hydrogen production, and energy storage. 

“So this roadmap cannot be fixed and unchanging, it needs to respond to the latest scientific evidence and expertise if we are to reach our destination. 

“Simply incentivising deployment worked wonders for reducing wind and solar costs, but it won’t cut it for many of these other challenges where we need to develop novel technologies and demonstrate they work across the whole energy system.  

“Without a clear, evidence-led view of the challenges that still lie ahead we risk sleepwalking into further climate disaster.”