Future Vision

Future of the sector as the UK transitions to Net Zero by 2050

The sector is able to deliver the fuel our economy and society needs while increasing their low carbon content to meet the UK’s Net Zero goals.

Demand for road transport fuels has declined over recent years due to improvements in vehicle efficiency and the increasing use of hybrid and electric vehicles. Over the same period, the biofuel content of petrol and diesel has also increased, leading to a further decline in demand for crude oil derived petrol and diesel. These trends are set to continue under Government transport decarbonisation policies.

Petrol and diesel engines will, however, continue to be a large part of the vehicle fleet, as will hybrids, beyond the 2030 ban on new vehicles which are not zero emission at the tailpipe. Reducing emissions of such vehicles can deliver greenhouse gas savings early and support the development of low carbon fuels that will be required in the much longer-term, for example for aviation and Heavy Goods Vehicles.

UK offers advantages in terms of transition to Net Zero which could make it a world leader as we move to Net Zero, with good geology for Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS), proximity to the European market and strong import/export infrastructure, and transferable workforce expertise from both upstream and downstream oil sectors to support key technologies such as hydrogen, carbon capture and low carbon fuels.​

The downstream oil sector will need to consider how it can contribute to decarbonisation goals, whilst providing security, reliability and affordable products to wider society. To do this we need a clear vision for the future of our industry. 

The UKPIA Future Vision Series of reports does just that as well as considering in depth the multiple technologies available to reduce the emissions of our industry as well as its products.

Use the links on the right to learn more about the future of the UK's downstream oil sector and the decarbonisation potential or read our Future Vision Series in full in the publications section or using the links below:

2019 UKPIA Future Vision and Oxford Economics Report "The Economic Contribution of the UK Downstream Oil Sector"

2020 Transition, Transformation, and Innovation

2021 Future of Mobility

2022 Future Skills for the Downstream Sector

Future of Mobility in the UK

The UKPIA Report “Future of Mobility in the UK” provides a comprehensive assessment of transport decarbonisation to identify important issues, challenges and possible solutions on how the UK’s biggest emitting
sector can transform to meet Net-Zero by 2050.

Transition, Transformation, and Innovation

This publication looks beyond 2019's UKPIA Future Vision Report and considers the role of the downstream oil sector in meeting the UK's Net-Zero target.

The UK downstream oil sector is capable and willing to play a significant role in meeting societal targets for decarbonisation to Net-Zero.

Climate Change Policy

Climate Change Policy - How we manage our natural resources - including our response to the challenges of climate change - is one of the most pressing concerns facing businesses, governments and publics across the world.


Refineries are the largest producers and consumers of hydrogen in the world and UK-based refiners have been working safely with hydrogen for over 60 years. With the infrastructure, skills and expertise that has been developed, UKPIA believes the downstream industry can be a significant contributor to the emerging hydrogen economy – using the experience and scale of the sector to extend the use of low carbon hydrogen and to reduce refinery emissions simultaneously.

Digitalisation in the Downstream Oil Industry

Like most modern industries, the downstream oil sector is seeing strong trends towards digitalisation. Digital technologies have taken hold in the consumer-facing segments of the sector and at import terminals already, while refining applications for digital are emerging.