Reaching Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions is now widely recognised as critical to the future of our society.

In this chapter, we explain what Net Zero is, the results of our modelling, and what they mean for the consumer and the energy system.

Key insights from the Net Zero chapter

  • Leading the Way reaches Net Zero by 2047 and achieves annual net negative emissions of -30 Mt by 2050 (i.e. 30 Mt are removed from the atmosphere). Consumer Transformation and System Transformation reach Net Zero by 2050. These three scenarios also meet all carbon budgets, including the 6th Carbon Budget.
  • Falling Short doesn’t get to Net Zero by 2050, diverging from carbon budgets around 2025, resulting in 186 Mt of residual annual emissions by 2050. 
  • The heat and road transport sectors are largely decarbonised by 2050 across all scenarios except Falling Short. However, even for the Net Zero scenarios, some sectors such as waste and aviation do not reach zero emissions by 2050, so the energy sector, particularly the power sector, must reach net negative emissions to balance this out.
  • The power sector gets to net negative emissions by 2033 in Leading the Way and Consumer Transformation, and by 2034 in System Transformation. This broadly aligns with the Government ambition to have a Net Zero power sector (subject to Security of Supply) by 2035. This is a prerequisite for fully decarbonising other sectors through electrification.
  • For sectors to reach net negative emissions, solutions which remove emissions from the atmosphere are required. Natural negative emission solutions (e.g., reforestation) feature, although in all scenarios engineering-based negative emission technologies play the largest role: Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage (DACCS) with BECCS being the largest provider. Sustainability and carbon accounting must be considered when deploying BECCS.
  • Consumers will need to be supported and enabled to accelerate the rate at which they adopt new, smarter technologies and change the way they use energy to reach Net Zero. Under some scenarios, a doubling or even trebling in uptake of some technologies is needed by 2035. At National Grid ESO we are continuing to develop our understanding in this area, such as through our 'Empowering Climate Action' research.