The path to net zero

Climate Assembly UK full report

Other formats: Plain text, PDF, Kindle .mobi, EPUB.


Preface – a guide to this report

Welcome to  The path to net zero: Climate Assembly UK report . This information is designed to help you navigate this report and find quickly the content of most interest to you.

This report contains:

  • Forewords from the commissioning select committee Chairs and the assembly's Expert Leads  that place the assembly and its report in context;
  • An opening statement from the assembly members themselves that highlights the key themes emerging from their recommendations. This statement is an excellent place to start for anyone wanting an overarching picture of the assembly's results;
  • The executive summary lists the assembly's main recommendations in each of the ten areas that it considered. It also contains a brief introduction to the assembly itself. Alongside the opening statement, it is designed to give an overview of the assembly's recommended path to net zero;
  • Chapter 1 provides details of the assembly's process and membership;
  • Chapters 2–11  outline in depth the assembly's recommendations and the rationale behind them. These chapters are organised by policy area: for example, how we travel, heat and energy use in the home, and what we buy. They will be particularly useful to policy-makers, researchers and others working in detail on the areas considered by the assembly. These chapters are designed to stand alone so that readers can go straight to the chapters of most interest to them.

About the detailed chapters

Chapters 2–11 each contain:

  • A quick summary of key recommendations on the relevant theme at the chapter's start, for ease of reference;
  • The assembly's formal recommendations, decided by secret ballot. This includes full results of all votes;
  • Assembly members' rationale for their decisions, captured through notes from their small group conversations and responses on their ballot papers. Assembly members have checked these sections to verify their accuracy;

Please note: Assembly members were asked to think about both the advantages and disadvantages of potential recommendations, and we have included full accounts of what they said. This means there are disadvantages listed for recommendations the assembly strongly supported, and advantages listed for recommendations that they did not. We have also left in contradictory opinions, where they existed. Assembly members' votes show the relative importance that they placed on the advantages and disadvantages they identified, and their final decisions having considered all points of view.

  • Some assembly members noted conditions to their support for recommendations, or points for decision-makers to bear in mind around their implementation. We have included these in full. 

This report does not contain transcripts of the information presented to the assembly by the forty-seven speakers who gave evidence to it. You can find these, alongside videos of the presentations and the speakers slides, at

The Climate Assembly UK team


Foreword from Committee Chairs

When Parliament agreed in June 2019 to set in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 that was the easy part. The hard bit is to determine how we get there and then do it.

How should we go about making those choices? What is the contribution of each sector to achieving a decarbonised economy?

Because whatever combination of policy choices is made, there will be an impact on every taxpayer, every business, on the way every one of us lives our lives. No government in a democracy can address climate change on its own; it is a communal effort requiring the input, understanding and support of the people. Almost every facet of life and policy area will be affected.

That is why six select committees joined together last year to set up a citizens' assembly on climate change. When Parliament legislated on net zero, the committees decided to make the focus of the assembly how this target should be reached. We asked it to consider the complex trade-offs involved in reaching decisions on issues including: how we travel; what we eat; what we buy; how we heat our homes; how we generate our electricity; how we use the land.

The voice of Climate Assembly UK is important because it is unique: a body whose composition mirrors that of the UK population. People from all walks of life taking the time to inform themselves on complex issues, discussing the topics with experts and each other, and reaching conclusions.

On behalf of the six select committees that established Climate Assembly UK, we want to express our gratitude to all the 108 assembly members who gave up their time to take part. We have been enormously impressed by their commitment, not least in wanting to complete the assembly online after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic made it impossible to hold the final weekend in Birmingham.

We also want to thank the assembly for giving us such a clear set of recommendations on the path to take. Assembly members were clear on the underlying principles that should govern our policy choices, including the importance of information and education and the need for fairness, to support those who might be adversely affected by the transition to net zero. They were clear on the need for Government to lead the debate and take the actions necessary to reach net zero. And they were clear on the need for a cross-party consensus, to give long-term certainty on the policy choices made.

Forging consensus is what we do on our cross-party select committees, on the basis of the evidence and what in our judgement is acceptable to the public. That is why the considered view of the assembly is so important. In each of our committees, we will study the relevant recommendations of the assembly and the reasons behind them, to inform our work in advising the Government on how to make progress in our respective policy areas and holding it to account for any slacking.

The path to net zero must be a joint endeavour, between Parliament, the people, Government and business. The assembly has more than delivered on the task we set it last year. The challenge is now for us in Parliament and for Government to navigate the pathways that have been set out in order to reach our agreed destination of net zero by 2050.

Mel Stride MP Chair, Treasury Committee

Darren Jones MP Chair, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

Foreword from the Expert Leads

The UK is one of the first countries to commit to achieving net zero emissions, and will host next year's international climate summit, COP26. This is an important period to show how leadership on climate change can be sustained at a time when the world is dealing with the impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The UK has already made good progress with emissions reductions, but meeting future carbon budgets and the net zero target will be very challenging. Action is needed to transform our economy and society.

This transformation will not only be achieved through ramping up investment in technologies such as electric cars, offshore wind farms and home insulation. Citizens also have a crucial role to play. The way we live our lives, what we buy, how we travel and what we eat will all have an influence. So it is essential to work with citizens to make sure their views are heard, and develop strategies that fit with people's lives and aspirations.

Climate Assembly UK is a unique process that has helped to meet this need. It has brought together a representative group of 108 citizens and provided them with the space to understand, discuss and prioritise actions the UK should take.

The assembly took many hours of planning. We worked closely with Involve and the assembly's advisory groups to ensure that members would be provided with fair, balanced and comprehensive evidence on the different ways in which net zero could be achieved. This included a lot of time for the members to ask questions, discuss the evidence with each other, and to reach conclusions. There was also an opportunity to discuss topics that assembly members themselves considered to be important.

The value of all the planning became clear once the assembly began to meet in January. The 108 participants were no longer just a statistical sample of the population – but a real, diverse group of citizens from all over the UK. They were fully engaged from start to finish: questioning speakers, debating and testing different points of view. The team from Involve1 did a fantastic job of facilitating this process, and ensuring a wide range of views were heard in a respectful and balanced way.

Notes (hide):

1: The Involve Foundation ('Involve') is the public participation charity that led the delivery of Climate Assembly UK.

This report provides detailed insights into the discussions and decisions of assembly members. The results of the votes will inevitably catch the eye. But the report also shows how nuanced the discussions were – including the reasons for assembly members' views, and the all-important conditions attached to some of the decisions.

This report provides vital new intelligence about the views of the UK public on the way forward. We strongly encourage decision-makers in government, industry and other organisations to read it in detail – and to take these views into account.2

Notes (hide):

2: For more information about the role of the Expert Leads in Climate Assembly UK, please see Chapter 1.

Chris Stark Committee on Climate Change

Professor Jim Watson University College London

Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh University of Bath

Professor Rebecca Willis Lancaster University


1 The Involve Foundation ('Involve') is the public participation charity that led the delivery of Climate Assembly UK.

2 For more information about the role of the Expert Leads in Climate Assembly UK, please see Chapter 1.