The United Kingdom’s Clean Growth Strategy

Case Summary: 

The UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy (CGS), published in October 2017, sets out the proposals and policies to meet legislated limits on UK emissions in five-year periods to 2028–32 (the “fifth carbon budget”) although the CGS is not the first such UK plan, it is the first to be required subsequent to the Paris Agreement and is more detailed regarding the long-term requirements than the previous plans. As the UK’s carbon budgets are underpinned by detailed sector-by-sector analysis of potential for emissions reduction and related costs, so is the CGS, which contains separate sectoral summaries of ambition. It also emphasizes the importance of innovation in helping to meet future targets. For example, the strategy includes over £2.5 billion in government spending on clean technology innovation from 2015 to 2021.

This case study gleans lessons on the development of the United Kingdom’s Clean Growth Strategy. It details the process of developing, implementing, and following through on the United Kingdom’s Strategy, originating in the 2008 Climate Change Act.

Key findings from the case study include:

  • The role of the strategy should include setting out the low-regret and low-cost actions that can be taken, consistent with the long-term vision.
  • More work is needed, internationally, to understand global pathways to achieving net-zero emissions and the potential role of different technologies.
  • Publication of a “strategy” is not enough. Delivery needs to be monitored.
  • The CCC was established as an independent body, by comprising expert advisers to the government and Parliament, to provide a cross-economy view—reducing the special pleading of specific sectors or government departments—
  • A particular success has been the move toward support of low carbon generation technologies through the use of long-term contracts.
United Kingdom
Europe and Central Asia
Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Developing Strategies and Plans, Developing and Implementing Policies and Measures, Reviewing and Enhancing Ambition, Low Emission Development Strategies, Long-Term Strategies
Sectors and Themes 
Agriculture, Transport, Water
Barriers overcome 
Capacity, Economic, Information, Institutional, Political, Socio-cultural, Technological
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Resources Institute (WRI)
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