trees from above

The Transition to Zero Pollution initiative is creating and translating holistic socio-technical solutions to pollution in all its forms, including carbon dioxide.

Transition to Zero Pollution is about going beyond thinking about zero carbon to consider pollution in all its forms. We need a radical shift in industrial systems, technologies, and business models, underpinned by the development of innovative policies and governance structures. Scientists, engineers, clinicians, and economists must work together to create innovative technologies and policies that address not just a single problem but the entire system and life cycle.

Transition to Zero Pollution is one of the first initiatives of Imperial's Academic Strategy, and The Forum is bringing together researchers from across Imperial to build new partnerships that converge disciplines, and work with key stakeholders to make sure that our research is translated into effective policy and solutions for industry and benefits across society.

Read more on the initiative's website.

What's On

  • Transition to Zero Pollution has supported the IPPR Environmental Justice Commission report on A plan for fairly decarbonising how people travel, published in June 2021. The report outlines a vision for a transport system that is fair to all, works to improve people’s health and wellbeing and provides a better environment for nature. It cites Imperial academics Professor Mary Ryan, Professor Robert Shorten and Dr Audrey de Nazelle. Read more.


Discover our past Transition to Zero Pollution events

A plan for fairly decarbonising how people travel (roundtable) - June 2021

The Forum and Transition to Zero Pollution initiative sponsored a roundtable and report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) on zero-pollution transport. The report, A plan for fairly decarbonising how people travel, was published in June 2021. The private roundtable event featured Imperial’s Professor Robert Shorten, alongside Huw Merriman MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Kerry McCarthy MP, Shadow Minister for Green Transport and Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change in the Welsh Government. 

The role of technology in achieving net zero (panel discussion) - March 2021

A panel of experts discussed the role of technology in achieving net zero, covering topics such as the government's 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, investment in innovation and how to pay for the transition to net zero. Panellists included Dr Ajay Gambhir from Imperial's Grantham Institute, Georgia Berry, Director of Political Campaigns at OVO and former Special Adviser for Energy and Infrastructure in the No.10 Policy Unit and Juergen Maier, Chair of Digital Catapult and Vice Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. This was a joint event with the Institute for Government. Watch the event.

Energy from waste (roundtable) - March 2021

The Forum and the think tank Policy Connect co-hosted a closed roundtable on energy from waste. Professor Chris Cheeseman, Professor of Materials Resources Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, gave the opening presentation, offering his perspective on the issues and opportunities associated with energy from waste. He was joined by MPs, peers, civil servants and industry representatives to debate the issues. 

What does the Biden presidency mean for global climate goals? (Panel discussion) - February 2021

President Joe Biden has garnered considerable support for more ambitious climate policy, and his commitment to re-joining the Paris Agreement and appointment of John Kerry as US climate envoy signals that this will be a priority. The new administration will need to work to restore Washington's influence as it seeks to build more robust global action to address the crisis. Read more.

Professor Mary Ryan, Vice-Dean (Research), Faculty of Engineering, and Champion for Transition to Zero Pollution at Imperial chaired a panel discussion, which included the following expert speakers:

  • Professor Tim Benton, Research Director, Emerging Risks; Director, Energy, Environment and Resources Programme, Chatham House
  • Professor Frans Berkhout, Executive Dean, Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy and Professor of Environment, Society and Climate, King’s College London
  • Alyssa Gilbert, Director of Policy and Translation, Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial 
  • Professor David G. Victor, Senior Fellow – Foreign Policy, Energy Security and Climate Initiative, the Brookings Institution (US think tank)

Resources and Waste Strategy (roundtable) - January 2021

Imperial experts joined MPs, industry leaders and other officials to debate the future of the government's Resources and Waste Strategy. The event, jointly hosted by Imperial's new Transition to Zero Pollution initiative and the cross-party think tank Policy Connect through the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group, analysed the progress of the Resources and Waste Strategy after its publication two years ago.

Chaired by Lord Teverson, Chair of the EU Environment Sub-Committee, opening remarks were delivered by Philip Dunne MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, and Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Shadow Minister for Energy and the Green New Deal. Imperial academics Professor Nick Voulvoulis and Professor David C Wilson joined senior parliamentarians to share their insights on the strategy, two years on from its publication by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Read more.

Air quality and the Environment Bill (roundtable) - October 2020

The Forum and London School of Economics (LSE) held a roundtable with members of the House of Lords to share insights on the Environment Bill. The meeting was an opportunity for the researchers to highlight how to ensure that the Environment Bill can be most effective at improving air quality in the coming decades. Chaired by Lord Teverson, Chair of the Lords EU Environment Sub-Committee, Imperial academics Professor Frank Kelly, Dr Audrey de Nazelle and Dr Marc Stettler and LSE economist Dr Sefi Roth presented their research around air quality and outlined how the bill, and wider government policy, can best reduce air pollution. Read more about the event.

Zero-pollution economy (roundtable) - September 2020

The Forum convened a policy roundtable with Imperial academics, senior civil servants, parliamentarians and think tank officials on the topic of how we can build a zero-pollution economy. Imperial academics Professor Maurizio ZolloDr Ana MijicDr Mirabelle Muuls and Professor Robert Shorten introduced their research and policy problems. Issues discussed included: systems approach to zero pollution; business, productivity and skills; poverty and inequality; taxation and policy; natural capital; and consumption and ownership.

Transition to Zero Pollution launch event - September 2020

The Forum supported the launch of Transition to Zero Pollution, Imperial’s new initiative to build new partnerships between research, industry and government to realise our vision of a sustainable zero pollution future. Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and a renowned global climate justice campaigner, gave a keynote address at the online launch, arguing for climate justice – taking urgent action to avoid squandering the futures of our young people. Professor Mary Ryan then chaired a panel discussion with Baroness Brown of Cambridge (Julia King), Professor Mike Berners-Lee and Professor Nilay ShahRead more about the event or watch it in full online. 

Circular economy (workshop) - May 2020

How to transition to a circular economy, a topic rising up the economic and climate agendas, was the focus of The Forum’s latest policy workshop. Dr Pelin Demirel and Dr Leila Sheldrick, both of the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial, and researchers from across the College led discussions with partners from government, think tanks, charities and industry to address many of the strategic decision-making challenges faced as we transition towards a circular economy. Read more about the workshop.

Flooding and water management (workshop) - April 2020

Tackling an issue of growing environmental concern – water management and flooding – was the focus of The Forum’s first ever online policy workshop. Led by Dr Ana Mijic of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and an Associate of the Grantham Institute at Imperial, researchers from across the College led discussions with partners from government and other stakeholders to address many of the issues associated with water management and flooding. Read more about the workshop.

City fires (workshop) - February 2020

Led by Professor Guillermo Rein, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and head of Imperial's Hazelab, The Forum's city fires policy workshop explored tackling the key issues around city fires, including reducing the likelihood and consequences of accidental fires and improving modern infrastructure and building safety systems. The workshop was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Greater London Authroity, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Health and Safety Executive. 

Plastics (workshop) - January 2020

Solving one of the great environmental challenges - that of plastic waste and pollution - took centre stage at this policy workshop. Jointly organised by The Forum with the Greener Plastic Future project and the Ocean Plastic Solutions Network at Imperial, researchers from across the College led discussions with partners from government and the third sector to address one of the foremost problems facing societies across the world. Read more about the workshop.