Getting net zero research to the decision-makers who need it

Centre for Net Zero
Jun 10 · 3 min read

Hi, I’m Livi.

While a relative newcomer to climate change and sustainability issues, as something of an idealist, I’ve long looked for purpose in my work and the opportunity to make a real impact.

As a researcher and caseworker I’ve supported a backbench MP in Parliament and as a journalist I’ve scrutinised political decision-making. I’ve worked at the heart of politics advising MPs and Ministers during the 2015 General Election campaign and beyond. More recently, I’ve lobbied on behalf of organisations on issues ranging from online child safety and tackling loneliness, to national defence and post-Brexit trade. My motivation throughout has been to positively influence solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face today.

This is why I am so thrilled to have joined the Centre for Net Zero team as the Head of Public Affairs. I believe strongly in our mission to pioneer the research needed to find the most efficient, fair and affordable route to net zero, and tackle one of the greatest and most urgent threats to our existence.

We know that delivering the scale and pace of change needed to limit global warming to the 1.5ºC target agreed in the Paris Agreement means decarbonising sectors including buildings, transport, energy and land use. But while the destination is clear, the plethora of routes available to us raise difficult questions for governments about the balance of technologies we should be pursuing (including those not invented yet), the timescales that are achievable, and how to ensure transition is affordable.

The answers to these depend on policy choices. In the UK, the Government has set a deadline to achieve net zero by 2050. To achieve this, a mix of policy levers will be needed to:

  • support the innovation and deployment of new technologies both to reduce and capture emissions;
  • incentivise behaviour change by the public and industry;
  • reduce risks and uncertainties of new technologies for investors to encourage innovation;
  • take into account different levels of exposure to the transition by sectors, regions, and households and manage adverse impacts to ensure the transition is both affordable and fair.

Time is of the essence if we are to reach our target. Far greater understanding than we currently possess of the interplay of people, markets, industries, and the drivers and levers for behaviour change is needed if we are to instil confidence in innovation and open the door to much-needed investment more quickly.

It is my hope that as policy continues to be developed (we are shortly expecting the Heat and Buildings Strategy and the Decarbonisation of Transport Plan), that the data and insights being produced by our expert team here at the Centre will prove invaluable to Government and industry. This input can help to shape and inform policies that work to not only to identify the most efficient path to net zero, but mitigate risks and optimise benefits. It will be my personal mission to ensure our findings reach the decision makers who need to see them.

I also hope that our commitment to open and collaborative research and modelling will mean that the work we do will be of benefit to fellow researchers and innovators in generating solutions which deliver greater impact than any one of us could achieve alone.

Reaching net zero will be no small feat and we cannot ignore the need for significant efforts from countries outside of our own. However, in a year when the UK Government hosts both the G7 Summit and the COP26 climate negotiations, we have a clear opportunity to show leadership and drive ambitious targets. Together with my colleagues, I look forward to ensuring our Parliamentarians, industry leaders and other activists are equipped with the most timely and relevant research findings to do just that.

Centre for Net Zero

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