HyDEX is pleased to be supporting a new policy commission which will examine the benefits and challenges arising from the transition to net zero.

The policy commission, which is being led by the University of Nottingham, will be looking at a range of areas including:
– Who benefits from a transition
– The role of communities in a transition
– How to realise the transition to net-zero

The commission is being chaired by Lord Tom Watson, the former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, and will be co-chaired by Professor Lucelia Rodrigues from the Head of Department of Architecture & Built Environment at the University of Nottingham.The University of Nottingham Institute for Policy and Engagement has launched a policy commission with former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Honorary Professor Lord Watson, to investigate a just transition to net zero.

With net zero remaining a hotly contested issue for politicians and public alike, the Commission intends to make a set of recommendations for policymakers into how to achieve a truly just transition to net zero, which is inclusive and fair, maximises the benefits of the transition at all levels, shares those benefits widely and equitably, and also supports those individuals and communities impacted by the transition.

In November last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that “postponing action and taking a slower route to net zero emissions by 2050 will worsen the climate crisis even if the goal is still reached by that date.”

The first meeting to launch the inquiry recently took place, with commissioners participating from organisations including the European Climate Foundation, Nottingham City Council, the Trades Union Congress, the University of Nottingham, HyDEX, Business in the Community, the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, Aldersgate Group, the National Union of Students, the Midlands Net Zero Hub and Social Enterprise UK.

With recent comments from the Prime Minister on the need to be honest about the ‘costs and trade-offs’ of tackling climate change and public concerns expressed by the trade union movement about the lack of jobs for their members flowing from green energy projects, the issue is clearly a matter of debate and contention on both sides of the political divide.

But with experts nationally and internationally issuing ever stronger warnings about the need for concerted action and the consequences of not moving quickly enough, a way must be found to both take the measures necessary to rapidly address the challenge and do so in a way that commands public and political support. This Commission will look to deliver valuable inputs and recommendations to support this effort and help move the debate forward into action and policy impact.

The policy commission follows news that the university has secured more than £70 million to establish new world-leading and open-access research facilities and programmes that will decarbonise future transport. The funding is secured based on a £14 million award from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF). This is augmented by both public and private co-investment that will allow the university to build on its existing internationally leading capabilities in electrification, hydrogen and manufacturing.

Lord Watson said: “Tackling climate change is an issue that is too important to delay but too far-ranging in its potential impacts to proceed without the need for a just transition at the heart of the decisions made and the policies implemented.

“Regardless of the outcome of the General Election, this will be an issue for any new administration to wrestle with and one where substantive policy inputs from this Commission will be welcomed by politicians of all colours and policy makers of none.”

Professor Lucelia Rodrigues, Deputy Commission Chair, added: “The University of Nottingham has long pioneered zero-carbon research and has always sought to ensure that this work results in positive policy impact wherever possible. This Commission is a fantastic opportunity to combine this expertise with that of others from across a wide range of sectors and help policy makers in delivering the transition that is crucially needed but is also fair.