Commenting on the anticipated government pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, Professor Nilay Shah OBE FREng, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Vice-Chair of the National Engineering Policy Centre Net Zero working group, says: “The engineering community welcomes this ambitious and necessary target of 78% emissions reduction by 2035. It is vital both for the planet and for our success in reaching the ultimate goal of net zero that we eliminate the large majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade. It is encouraging that the Prime Minister recognises this and is setting out strong targets in advance, giving society, industry and government time to work together towards them.

“However, the UK is still not on track to meet even its previous carbon targets, and this new goal of 78% emissions reduction by 2035 will not be reached without sweeping energy efficiency measures and ensuring that all government policies actively and coherently contribute to achieving this target. In the run up to COP26, government should publish a detailed and flexible plan for each high-carbon sector of the economy, and account for the connections between them and the social or behavioural basis for change using a systems approach. Engineers from every discipline will design, build, retrofit, operate and make safe the infrastructure and technologies for a decarbonised UK to be fully achieved, and we will play our part to build a net zero UK.”

Led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the National Engineering Policy Centre’s programme of work ‘Net Zero: a systems approach to the climate challenge’ is developing interdisciplinary insights into the best way to reach net zero in the UK. The Centre will soon be publishing a framework for identifying ‘low-regret’ measures that government and industry can take to get the UK started on the journey to net zero, for use until a comprehensive roadmap to net zero is developed.

For more detail on the UK’s net zero target please see our explainer: Net Zero by 2050 Explained

Notes for editors

  1. The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public. Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.

Media enquiries to Pippa Cox at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. +44 207 766 0745; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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