Net Zero Policy Programme

The research and activities under this programme aim to draw on learnings from the Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts disciplines to develop relevant and timely UK policy insights that consider the role of people, communities and institutions in the transition to net zero.
Start date
Programme status

People sit at the centre of many of the policies and actions under consideration as part of the transition to net zero. A British Academy research scheme, Shared Understandings of a Sustainable Future highlighted the lack of sufficient understanding of the role of people, limitations in how people are engaged and gaps in systems that will be needed to achieve the ambitious targets associated with the transition.

Building on this, the British Academy’s policy work on net zero in the UK is exploring how well do net zero policies address the challenges facing the economy and society in the UK? In doing so the programme aims to contribute to improved outcomes for policies that aim to deliver on commitments to net zero in the UK.

Call for Research

The British Academy’s policy team is building up its net zero policy programme to use the SHAPE disciplines to answer the question: how well do net zero policies address the challenges facing the economy and society in the UK?

We are inviting proposals from a research team led by a Principal Investigator (PI) to use a cross-temporal, multi-scalar approach to address three specific challenges:

  • Typology challenge: how can we classify net zero policies?
  • Synthesis challenge: what is the SHAPE evidence on net zero policies?
  • Evaluation challenge: which net zero policies work in practice and why?

Researchers would be expected to produce policy and research outputs that are accessible to policymakers and practitioners.

We expect to make a single award of up to £150,000 (with Full Economic Costing at 80%), starting in March 2023. This means that the maximum budget that can be stipulated is £187,500, of which the British Academy would fund 80% (ie £150,000). We expect the project will run for no longer than 15 months, starting in June 2023 and completed by April 2024. Awardees will be required to engage closely and regularly with the British Academy throughout the award duration and meet clear deliverables and deadlines.

For more information on this scheme please click here.

We will be running a webinar on 19 January 2023 from 11:00-11:45 am to respond to any questions potential applicants may have.

Please find the information to join the webinar on Zoom here:

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 883 5111 1058

Passcode: Y5pEdF

Call for Discussion Papers

The British Academy is requesting short proposals (comprising a brief CV, a short outline or an abstract that describes the paper you would like to contribute to this series), to respond to the Net Zero Policy Programme framing:

  • How should policymaking effectively balance the range of impacts resulting from net zero policies on various communities of interest over different timescales?
  • How can policy interventions take account of the diverse contextual factors within places which motivate people and organisations to support or oppose net zero objectives?
  • How do different types of policy support enable people and institutions at different levels of society and across different dimensions of scale accelerate the transition to net zero?

Alongside these, we have a range of cross-cutting elements to consider: the importance of place (see below); the relationships between people, communities, institutions, and different modes of governance, particularly at the local scale; the coordination of connections between different levels of governance; the methods of engagement and communication between various groups of people and policymakers; the questions of social inclusion and widening values; the diverse economic and financial considerations; and the types of skills and knowledge needed.

This is a paid commission with fixed terms. The fee paid for each paper will be £4,000.

Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis. However, we will stop accepting proposals once the budget for this series has been allocated to submissions.

For more information, please click here.

We are running a webinar on 19 January 11.00-11.45 am to address any questions and provide further information on the calls.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 883 5111 1058

Passcode: Y5pEdF

Research projects and outputs

Our initial research considered how can collaboration across sectors (public, third sector, business and local communities), foster shared commitments to goals, values and programmes to deliver net zero as part of a sustainable future? Researchers worked through a wide range of methods, engaging diverse people and places. It indicated a range of cross-cutting elements to consider: the importance of place (see below); the relationships between people, communities, institutions, and different modes of governance; the connections between different levels of governance; methods of engagement and communication; questions of inclusion and values; economic and financial considerations; and the types of skills and knowledge needed.

The nine research projects commissioned are listed below, each with its findings summarised in a policy summary. The abstracts of each project are also available. A new round of research based on these findings will be commissioned in 2023.

Communities of Creative Survival: Live Simulation to Generate Grassroots Insight for Net-Zero Policy 

Dr Danielle Barrios-O'Neill

Royal College of Art

Policy Summary

Developing a Grassroots Sustainable Futures Platform: Collective Participation in a Community-Based Cultural Organisation 

Dr Lee Barron

Northumbria University

Policy Summary

The Great Community Climate Change Experiment: Using children from the community to promote meaningful sustainable actions

Professor Geoff Beattie

Edge Hill University

Attitudes Towards Climate Action 

Professor Sir Timothy Besley FBA  

London School of Economics and Political Science

Policy Summary

Collaborative Voices: drawing on cross-sector expertise in building community capacity and sustaining partnerships towards net-zero sustainability futures

Dr Jaya Gajparia

London South Bank University

Policy Summary

Co-designing sustainable food futures: using climate assemblies to build shared agri-food visions for net-zero

Professor Damian Maye

University of Gloucestershire

Policy Summary

Project output microsite

Community-Led Television, Local Voice and Climate Action

Dr Elke Weissmann

Edge Hill University

Policy Summary

Shifting the Narrative: Exploring the role of arts interventions in supporting communities in working across sectors to achieve place-based climate action 

Dr Alette Willis

University of Edinburgh

Policy Summary

Podcast - The power of traditional storytelling to shift our community narratives

Localising and decentralising goal-based governance for sustainability in England

Professor Jane Wills FBA

University of Exeter

Policy Summary

Contact us

If you require further information on this scheme or would like to engage with us, please contact Chizitera Pennington on [email protected] or Henry Richards on [email protected].

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