skip to content

Energy Transitions Research at the University of Cambridge

Key UK solutions and policy actions for immediate implementation for net zero by 2050

A new paper by leading UK scientists sets out key solutions and policy actions that should be implemented now, as well as priority research areas for the next decade, if the UK is to reach its net zero target by 2050.

Achieving this target will require a mix of technological, societal and nature-based solutions working together to enable systemic change. Research in the 2020s must be prioritised into solutions for sectors that are particularly difficult to decarbonise, such as aviation, electricity generation and storage, and maritime shipping.

The report, led by the University of Cambridge, also highlights net zero solutions which could be implemented now, such as the electrification of road freight, hydrogen produced using renewable energy instead of current carbon-intensive methods, and changes to land use planning to prioritise denser, mixed-use, low traffic neighbourhoods.

The briefing, Net-Zero Solutions and Research Priorities in the 2020s, is published by the COP26 Universities Network and brings together 26 leading scientists from 10 UK universities. It comes at a critical time ahead of the United Nations COP26 Climate Change Summit, which takes place in Glasgow this November.


"The 2020s will be the crucial decade to reduce emissions in order to meet the Paris Agreement goals, and the decisions made at COP26 will be critical in achieving that." Erik Mackie, Cambridge Zero


The paper highlights net-zero solutions in eight priority sectors, setting out actions to take now, research priorities for the next decade, and future benefits for each sector: :

  • Electricity (generation, storage, system and networks)
  • Buildings
  • Road transport
  • Industry
  • Land/sea use and agriculture
  • Aviation and shipping
  • Waste
  • Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR)

“It is great to see this group of universities pooling their expertise and coming to a broad consensus view about the needs for research and immediate actions in the fight against climate change,” Professor David Cebon, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight, Dept of Engineering

Of 26 co-authors on the paper, 14 are from the University of Cambridge, from fields including chemistry, engineering, architecture, computer science, and epidemiology..

Click here for Net-Zero Solutions and Research Priorities in the 2020s.
Click here for the original University of Cambridge article.


Image: Nordex USA manufacturing facility - Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA. Credit: US Department of Energy