Are we underestimating what net zero entails?

Published On: October 10, 2023

This huge undertaking can only be achieved if every part of society – including central and local government – is committed to decarbonisation, writes Justin Galliford, CEO of Norse Group.

We are in a period of change, and of great difficulty with continuing inflation, ever tighter budgets and political uncertainty. Several local authorities are already in deep trouble, and many more are teetering on the brink.

With so much adversity we risk overlooking the most important challenge facing society – achieving net zero.

Most councils have declared their commitment to net zero, but talking to local government leaders I’m increasingly concerned that the country is underestimating just how much achieving this ambitious aim entails.

However well prepared local government may be, much of net zero depends on central government action.

Net zero is something we at Norse have been working on for our own business and our local authority partnerships; the more we look into it, the more we realise how much is involved – and what it is likely to cost.

Among its many activities, Norse Group has a specialist environmental consultancy, which includes net zero specialists. They, and our council partners, are developing a comprehensive strategy to enable us and our partners to achieve net zero as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

In the words of Jeffrey Matsu, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy: “The timelines for achieving net zero are ambitious, and radical solutions will be needed to achieve them.”

Net zero is a huge undertaking and it can only be achieved if every part of society –including central and local government – is committed to decarbonisation, and it will require national leadership combined with local implementation.

Local authorities control the delivery of low carbon infrastructure using their regulatory powers, procurement processes and their trusted relationship with residents. They are key to helping central government in meeting net zero carbon ambitions, but it’s clear we will need its unwavering support to do so.