New project supports the resilience of government net zero policies and shows implications of future scenarios for the energy system


The Government Office for Science has launched a new Foresight Project to help inform the government’s long-term net zero strategy.

Their new report, titled ‘A net zero society – scenarios and pathways’, follows the COP26 summit in Glasgow where global leaders convened to outline coordinated action to tackle climate change.

Patrick Vallance, the government Chief Scientific Adviser, commented on the announcement: “If we are to keep warming below 1.5C, changes within society will matter as much as big technological changes.

“Through this research, we can understand the impact of potential societal changes on our path to achieving net zero.”

According to Government Office for Science, societal norms, practices and behaviours will play a significant role in emissions reduction but these are uncertain and likely to change in the future.

The Foresight project aims to support the resilience of government net zero policies by understanding how different social and behavioural changes will affect our path to net zero.

This is set to help inform the government’s long-term net zero strategy, enable stress-testing of policies and assumptions against plausible societal futures, and support more effective and resilient policy.

The project is set to achieve this by providing the evidence and tools to help understand how behaviours could impact net zero.

This project, due to run until late 2022, will produce an expert evidence review and a set of future scenarios and their implications for the energy system and for different groups within society.

It will examine trend data on behaviours that drive energy demand and emissions, explore how they may change in the future, and then develop holistic socio-technical scenarios that consider potential impacts of changes in both society and technology.

This will help explore critical inter-dependencies, trade-offs, and indirect effects of potential shifts in different pathways to net zero.

‘A net zero society: scenarios and pathways’ is available on the UK Government website.