Imperial College London

Imperial research referenced in major net zero report

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Chris Skidmore MP was asked by then PM Liz Truss MP to lead review into UK’s progress to net zero with focusing on delivering growth for the economy.

Chris Skidmore MP was commissioned by Prime Minister Liz Truss MP to lead a review into the UK’s trajectory to net zero with a focus on reaching net zero by 2050 and delivering growth for the economy.

The report, Mission Zero: Independent Review of Net Zero, evaluates existing net zero policy and makes 129 recommendations, including 5 actions to be taken by 2025. At an event launching the report, Skidmore, a former Science & Research Minister, said it should be viewed as a means by which to prioritise the delivery of net zero and recommended creating an Office for Net Zero. He said that the UK should emulate peer countries, such as France and Germany, by adopting long-term missions to drive progressive, particularly the growth of solar and onshore wind.

At the event, Minister for Energy and Climate Graham Stuart MP outlined government net zero priorities for 2023 including an update to the Green Finance Strategy, opening a consultation on the Net Zero Emission Vehicles mandate, and publishing the Net Zero Research and Innovation Delivery Plan.

Researchers from the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and Environment, Dyson School of Engineering, Centre for Climate Finance and Investment and Centre for Environmental Policy submitted evidence to the Review. Imperial’s   evidence received several references and quotations throughout the final report.

Imperial contribution to the Review

The Review refers to Imperial’s evidence on other countries moving ahead of the UK in research and development (R&D) spending

… the global move towards a low carbon future are recognised by our competitors: the US recently proposed its largest-ever increase in non-defence R&D spending, Germany is targeting 3.5% of GDP on R&D and China’s R&D spending hit a record high of 2.4% in 2020 267 and is now targeting annual increases of 7% or more in each of the next five years.

The report mentions Imperial’s involvement in a critical minerals roundtable at which participants warned the UK’s supply chains for critical minerals are not as resilient as they could be.

Imperial’s evidence on capturing the economic advantages of net zero is also referenced in the report

Failure to invest in R&D will have a detrimental impact on the UK’s ability to innovate and scale up technologies and solutions and could cost the profound benefit of first-mover advantage.

These references underpin the Review’s recommendations and Skidmore MP’s description of net zero as “the growth opportunity of the 21st century”.

What Imperial experts think of the Review:

Professor Peter Childs, Co-Director, Energy Futures Lab:

"Net zero is an aspiration but can be a reality and this review provides many positive indications of how we could achieve this. I am really encouraged to see the recommendations to decarbonise homes through low carbon heating and also through demand reduction by ever better thermal insulation and other measures. We really do need to act quickly on demand reduction by every better energy envelopes for our buildings as well as accelerating low carbon energy supplies through renewables. It’s great to see the focus on larger scale deployment of solar and expansion of on and offshore wind."

Dr Ajay Gambhir, Senior Research Fellow, Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment:

"The Skidmore Review is an unequivocal statement that the transition to net-zero can be a benefit to the UK and actually improve people’s lives. But this relies on the UK acting decisively, with “certainty, consistency and clarity” in policy making and implementation. The review is based on extensive stakeholder consultation and evidence, so should be high up any governing party’s agenda, as well as prominent in the plans of businesses, local government and local communities. The onus is now very much on the government to show how seriously it is taking net-zero and how it is planning to grasp this opportunity."

Dr Gbemi Oluleye, Lecturer in Energy and Environmental Technology and Policy, Centre for Environmental Policy:

“It is good to see the review confirm that net zero is the correct pathway and could put the UK at an economic advantage. The recommendations for accelerating the transition in hard to abate sectors, and for alternative technologies, would, if implemented, create the certainty and flexibility required for private investors to take risks. Supporting new business models can be as effective as policy support.”

Michael Wilkins, Executive Director, Centre for Climate Finance and Investment  

“The opportunities provided by the transition to net zero have been well highlighted in this report but as it quite rightly concludes, the UK must go further and faster to realise its economic benefits.

The government needs to consider the geopolitical implications of the net-zero world order: what are the decarbonisation requirements and how can they be achieved? What are the national strengths and weaknesses and what strategic alliances need to be built? The Skidmore Review does well to answer some of these questions from a UK net zero transition perspective, but the wider international complexities of transition should not be underestimated."

Net zero research at Imperial

The citations for Imperial College London in the report reflect the breadth of net zero research being undertaken across a multitude of departments within the College. The College’s Transition to Zero Pollution initiative takes a systems approach and thinks beyond zero carbon to consider pollution in all its forms. 


Pete Ford

Pete Ford
College Headquarters

James Heyburn

James Heyburn
Communications Division


Government-and-policy, Net-Zero, Energy, Climate-change, The-Forum
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