Net zero

We support businesses taking new approaches to achieving net zero emissions in energy systems, agriculture and food production, transport, buildings, manufacturing and material use, services, and many other areas.

The background to net zero

Limiting greenhouse gas emissions and achieving net zero is a historic challenge and opportunity. To achieve it requires successful innovation at scale. UK businesses can grow through the creation of new products, services and processes that help the UK and wider world to decarbonise and minimise other adverse environmental impacts of their economies.

The UK low carbon and renewable energy economy was worth £46.7 billion in 2018 and employed 224,800 people. This is forecast to rise to as many as 700,000 direct jobs by 2030 and to more than one million by 2050.

Find out more about our plans in Building the future economy: Plan for action for UK business innovation.

The work we’re doing to support net zero

The UK government is committed to net zero, and there are significant national programmes to help businesses develop new products and services to meet the challenge. We support businesses to adopt new approaches in energy systems, agriculture and food production, transport, buildings, manufacturing and material use, services, and many other areas.

Energy

Almost 28 million homes and six million business premises in the UK will have to change the way they use energy, including through the adoption of energy efficiency measures, low-emission heating systems, and smarter management of their energy use to smooth out demand.

We are supporting new approaches in manufacturing, transport, and other industries. We need to see more low-carbon generation. Changes to power systems, distribution networks, use of alternative fuels, adoption of clean manufacturing technologies, optimal use of resources, roll-out of low-emission vehicles, and much else must be delivered in less than 30 years.

Industrial processes and use of materials

Greener materials and manufacturing processes must be developed. Products must reduce their impact by becoming more durable and more reusable, and by being designed to be upgradeable and repairable. The energy used to produce materials – cement, steel, glass, bricks, aluminium, polymers,and so on – are a major source of global and UK climate emissions, contributing significantly to the UK’s CO2 equivalent emissions. Significant emissions are generated in overseas production, and their negative climate impact imported to the UK.

We support new approaches to reducing the damaging environmental impacts of our materials’ use and new business models that promote a circular economy powered by sustainable energy.

Agriculture and food, and other sources of emissions

Agriculture and the food chain accounts for approximately 20 per cent of UK CO2 equivalent emissions. The most significant causes of biodiversity decline are habitat change or loss and over-exploitation, primarily from demand for food. Biodiversity is both threatened by climate change and a part of the solution to it.

We support new approaches to reducing farming emissions through precision farming techniques and technologies such as genetics, data analytics and artificial intelligence, robotics and automation.

These technologies could also increase efficiency in agriculture and food production while better protecting soil, air and water quality, biodiversity, and animal welfare. We also support new approaches to extending shelf life, cut waste, increase efficiency of refrigeration, and replace single-use plastics.

Capital intensity

Heavily capitalised industries cannot make major changes overnight. They need time to ready themselves for a transition. We support them in building expertise, identifying products, and bringing new greener materials, technologies, and industries to the market.

We support businesses through a range of funding programmes and expert support services.

Search for Innovate UK funding opportunities.

Last updated: 31 March 2022

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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