In June 2019, the House of Commons approved milestone legislation committing the UK to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making it the first G7 country to do so. But how will we get there? Earlier that month, on 10th June, we hosted Zero Carbon Futures: What now, what next? to explore what businesses and government can do to turn ambition into action.

The event commenced with three thought-provoking talks from Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, Samantha Smith of the Just Transition Centre and Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change.

Moving the Net Zero agenda from optimism to practical action

Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, emphasised that now is a time for optimism. The IPCC and the Climate Change Committee reports have both confirmed that we can reach net zero, it can be affordable and the timescales are sufficient. We have the knowledge to make this transition happen. But to do so, the UK must take moral responsibility for committing to urgent action. Easy wins, such as energy efficient homes and carbon capture, can be achieved if Government implements the necessary political and regulatory steps that create markets which are effective and attractive to investment. And working within and across cities, and in rural areas, will also be integral to ensuring we use this point on time to deliver on our commitment to future generations.

Co-ordinating local responses to the global climate challenge

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, outlined the ways in which Liverpool Council has made steps towards becoming a carbon positive city, using blockchain technology to coordinate a response from companies and communities to move from intention to action. Joe stressed the need for further support from national government in tackling some of the most important issues – from house building to transport infrastructure – and the importance of sharing learning across UK cities and internationally. He emphasised that the language needs to move on from the limitations to industry, to a conversation that highlights the opportunities to support our communities in the UK and others around the world.

A just transition to a zero-carbon economy

Samantha Smith, Director of the Just Transition Centre, emphasised the importance of ensuring responses to the global climate emergency recognises the real impacts on working people and their families. This will involve retaining, retraining and redeploying workers affected by the transition to a low carbon economy, and ensuring new jobs are good jobs. National and local governments and the employers have a shared role to strengthen social protections and income support, and create economic plans for the communities that are most reliant on the current forms of power generation. This is a relationship of mutual interdependence where business and government can manage change together.