Introducing Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen

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Since the Paris climate agreement, there has been increasing acceptance that we must move towards a zero carbon future, and that we have all the technical solutions to do so. But another question remains: how do we make these changes happen? 

Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen is a groundbreaking new report which sheds new light on how we can resolve the political, economic and cultural barriers that are preventing the zero carbon transition from becoming a reality. The first report of its kind, it combines research and insights across many different disciplines and practical projects to explore pathways towards building a net-zero future.

Click here to download the report (8MB pdf)

In the new Zero Carbon Britain report, we present these pathways, and the changes of thinking and interdisciplinary approach that we will need to adopt, through a few different lenses:

Community bread making
Community baking – photo courtesy of Bread Matters and Yorkshire the Bread


Stories for change

Stories are powerful tools to move beyond the limits of our experiences and rehearse new ways of being. We all tell ourselves stories, as individuals and as societies, to help make sense of our lives. Making it Happen tells the story of six people who are living the sorts of change we need in the world, such as zero carbon housing pioneer, Arno Schmickler and real bread advocate and trainer, Veronica Burke.

Car-free development in Freiburg, Germany – photo Creative Commons/Payton Chung

Postcards from the future
Being able to envisage positive change is a key first step in making it happen. Four descriptive ‘postcards’ bring to life CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain scenarios to paint a vision of positive changes that could characterise our food, transport, buildings and energy systems when we have reached a net-zero future, and all the wider benefits this could bring, from health to employment opportunities and wellbeing.

Expert views
A zero carbon future requires holistic thinking that connects beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines. A number of leading thinkers share their perspectives, from Lucy Neal on how the arts spark cultural change to Andrew Simms unpacking assumptions about neoliberalism.

Where we are now
Understanding where we are today is a vital step in exploring what needs to change, and how that can be brought about. The report takes a detailed look at our progress in the four key sectors modelled by previous Zero Carbon Britain research: food, transport, buildings and energy.

Barriers to change, and making change happen
The report considers a broad range of blocks to zero carbon changes: from politics, economics and finance, to the impact of communications, values and behavioural psychology. It takes inspiration from academic research and practical projects to explore how we can transcend these barriers in each of these areas. You can take a look at the ‘report in short’ for a summary of our key findings in each category.

Bringing it all together
The report’s overarching conclusion is that ‘we must do this together’. We will only succeed in building a zero carbon future by working together across research and practice, boundaries, sectors and scales. Making it Happen highlights hundreds of good ideas and projects that, if they were scaled up and replicated, could be transformative: our collective challenge now is to bring this about. It will take many of us pulling in the same direction to enable change, and each of our actions can contribute to making a zero carbon future happen.




We hope Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen will be a valuable ‘toolbox’ of ideas that can help inspire, inform and enable each of us to be part of creating a zero carbon future.

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