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With the target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 set how do we actually get there?

No one single technology is the answer to decarbonisation. Most of the complementary technologies to deliver net zero are known, they are presently underdeveloped and require commercialisation to make them economically viable. Many pathways to net zero have been modelled but achieving net zero is not solely a technological challenge.

Also, no industry or sector can deliver net zero in isolation. This requires large scale collaboration, and it is essential that academia, government, and industry work in partnership to deliver the solutions that will provide us all with a low carbon future.

We also clearly must understand what society wants in the transition to a net zero future. It is important to bring people on the journey. They must understand clearly why changes are being made and how these actions will deliver upon the climate targets, because ultimately consumers could veto any move to net zero if they do not like the solutions offered to them.

Understanding what people want is something successful organisations do.

Climate Assembly UK, the public engagement exercise to identify priorities to deliver on climate targets highlighted a real desire to tackle climate change. They outlined that any successful transition would require strong leadership, the development of a consensus of approach, a need for certainty on why we are changing, long-term planning and ultimately a phased transition which is fair for all.

This understanding of how people perceive the changes we need to make must match the pressing need to act. Although 2050 is the end target date, the next 10-15 years requires rapid decarbonisation to allow us to be able to meet that end target. This is not just a challenge about eliminating future emissions, we need to address the challenge of cumulative emissions as higher cumulative emissions increases the severity of climate impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems, and human society.

So, we need to be aware of the practicalities involved in moving from high to low carbon intensity. We must “learn by doing” together and share these learnings to increase understanding and inform future actions.

One practical application of this collaborative approach to learning and understanding is the launch this week of unlocknetzero.co.uk a new knowledge hub to help individuals and organisations identify how to transition to a net zero future. Social is delighted to have partnered with Ocean Media Group, the publishing group behind Inside Housing and Social Housing to launch this new site which aims to educate, inform, and connect people on the journey to net zero.

unlocknetzero.co.uk seeks to educate its audience on the technologies, infrastructure and behaviour change required to deliver net zero. The site is focused on helping to identify and explain how the country transitions in practical terms. The intention is to create sharp insight to generate value and knowledge for its audience.

Achieving net zero will ultimately be a collaborative effort. In the way we have seen a collective scientific response to the other current great challenge to us as a society COVID-19, climate change needs this level of coordinated response if we are to deliver on the scale of change needed to deliver net zero emissions by 2050.

We have clearly moved from a theoretical debate about whether we should follow a net zero approach. It is now about working together to understand and explain how we make a zero carbon future a reality.