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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Carbon budgets should be devolved so regions can lead UK in realising economic benefits of decarbonisation

IPPR sets out a plan for empowering regions to deliver a national decarbonisation ‘mission’

The Government should devolve carbon budgets to the regional level, according to a new report published today from IPPR, the progressive policy think tank.

The North of England – the focus of the report - and other regions are already at the forefront of realising the opportunity of decarbonisation, with the north having over a third of low carbon jobs in England and generating nearly 50% of England’s renewable energy. Decarbonisation is also a major challenge for the North, which is more carbon intensive than other regions and suffers from a lack of investment.

Devolved carbon budgets would enable regions to set and drive progress towards decarbonisation, drawing on their local expertise and capabilities to realise the potential of the transition. In the case of the north, regional opportunities include:

  • the move toward more renewable and efficient use of energy
  • the rollout of technologies to help manufacturing businesses reduce emissions
  • and the transition to a cleaner, more connected and efficient transport system.

Devolution of carbon budgets should come alongside the government including an explicit decarbonisation mission in its industrial strategy. This mission should seek to secure the greatest socioeconomic benefit to the UK from a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 – and help the government tackle one of the “Grand Challenges” set out in last month’s industrial strategy white paper.

Laurie Laybourn-Langton, IPPR Senior Research Fellow said:

“Full decarbonisation is a significant opportunity for the UK economy, as well as a profound challenge. The recent Clean Growth Strategy and ongoing Industrial Strategy have signalled the government’s intention not only to meet domestic commitments at lowest cost, but to maximise the social and economic benefits of the decarbonisation transition.

“But more needs to be done to drive demand for low carbon goods and services and support firms in supplying them. Action at the regional level is key, and so we recommend regional carbon budgets so regions can take ownership of the rapid structural change needed to reach net decarbonisation by the midpoint of the century. This would enable their leaders, particularly mayors, to sit at the forefront of the climate effort – but, in return, more money and powers need to be given to them by Whitehall.”


Sofie Jenkinson, 07981023031, [email protected]


The new IPPR report Net-zero North: Delivering the decarbonisation mission in the North of England will be available at from 00.01 Thursday 7th December. Advanced embargoed copies are available from the press office.

The report builds on the work of the Northern Energy Taskforce and it’s final Northern Energy Strategy, which was published in October 2017. It is available at

The Northern Energy Taskforce was established to oversee an ambitious programme of work over 18 months to develop an energy strategy for the North of England. The Taskforce was chaired by Sir John Harman, and supported by a number of high-profile figures with expertise across infrastructure, engineering, finance, academia and local government. It was supported by IPPR staff in a research and secretariat capacity.

Regional case studies:

Tees Valley/ North East

The report argues that the government should make best use of the industrial heritage found in the region. This includes funding an industrial Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project in the Tees Valley to protect established industries and creating a Hydrogen Catapult to develop new ones.

For (Greater) Manchester

The report argues that polluting traffic and congestion in cities like Manchester ought be tackled by Transport for the North and other regional bodies who should develop Local Mobility Transition Plans, aiming to realise the socioeconomic potential of a transition to low carbon transport systems. This should include introducing new clean air zones, to phase out dirty traffic from city centres.

IPPR aims to influence policy in the present and reinvent progressive politics in the future, and is dedicated to the better country that Britain can be through progressive policy and politics. With nearly 60 staff across four offices throughout the UK, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence. Our independent research covers the economy, work, skills, transport, democracy, the environment, education, energy, migration and healthcare among many other areas.