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Evidence from academics informing the Net Zero Transition

Updated: Feb 14, 2021

Academic research changes lives. It matters.

Research allows us to understand. It is critical to social and economic development as it is the foundation for the knowledge that makes possible the innovations and applications that provides wider benefit to society.

The UK which was the first major world economy to commit legally to net zero emissions is home to some of the global leading research-intensive universities and thinkers on climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the important role scientific evidence plays in informing policy decision making. The path to net zero should not be different.

When approaching the challenge of achieving net zero, there is a need for a whole systems perspective and approach. In the UK energy sources are inter-dependent and no one sector, or vector can work in isolation to achieve the change required to become net zero. There is a need to understand our social practices, the roles of different technologies and how they interact with each other. There is a need to understand how the constituent parts of the society and the energy system might interact to transition to net zero.

With the scale of the challenge ahead of us it is important that academic research provides the best available scientific evidence, independent analysis and clearly articulates the options available to inform policy makers as they address the challenge of moving towards a net zero future.

But the academic community has never spoken with a coordinated voice on this issue. There is a lot of specialist knowledge, but this research has never been pulled together into one collective narrative. Clarity and articulation of this evidence base is important because some external stakeholders have struggled to access and exploit academic research that is available.

Our new Delivering Net Zero project will seek to address this issue.

The academic voice has an important role to play in the path to net zero. Our project is looking to take the best of this available research to help build consensus and identify a shared vision for the transition to net zero.

We will be bringing together leading UK academics and their thinking to debate the options and begin to develop a consensus of thought. These assumptions will then be tested with industry stakeholders to help us reach a shared vision. We also see this project as a catalyst to identify and clarify what further research is needed to help underpin a net zero future.

The challenge of climate change and the adoption of net zero needs a collaborative effort. This will require close collaboration between academia, government, and industry. Not one party can achieve the objective on their own.

This project focuses on the role of research in the challenge to transition the UK to net zero.

We passionately believe that academic support and frameworks are essential to provide the best available scientific evidence to provide independent analysis, articulate available options and to base policy decisions upon.

Ultimately, the project wants to inform decision makers involved in net zero with the best academic evidence available, allowing for decisions to be taken on merit, building on existing mechanisms and learning from experience.

You can follow progress of our project at

Follow us on Twitter - @delivernetzero

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