UCL Public Policy


Net Zero Innovation Programme: A UCL and Local Government Association Collaboration

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Delivered through a collaboration between the Local Government Association, the national membership body for local authorities, and UCL, the Net Zero Innovation Network brings together local authorities, universities and other stakeholders to address climate challenges at the local level, and seek routes to achieve council’s net zero commitments.

The Net Zero innovation Network is open to researchers, academics and policymakers working to address local net zero challenges as a forum for open discussion and collaboration. 

To join the Net Zero Innovation Network on LinkedIn please contact climate@local.gov.uk

Introducing the Net Zero Innovation Programme

Across the UK, local authorities are declaring a climate emergency, seeking to lead action at a local level to reduce carbon emissions, increase biodiversity, transition to net zero and ultimately improve the quality of life of their residents and the local environment.

We believe that the varying expertise of local authorities to respond to the climate emergency creates a clear opportunity for engagement and knowledge exchange with the research community, as well as for delivery of evidence directly in to policymaking and practical delivery at the local level.

The Net Zero Innovation Programme brings together partnerships of researchers and climate change officers from councils across all the regions in England, providing support to work collaboratively to define and co-create challenges, and the time and funding to work on their problems towards achieving local net zero targets.

The 2020 Net Zero Innovation Cohort
In 2020, the Programme supports a cohort of 12 research/council partnerships on their net zero journeys. 


EnergyBarnsley CouncilLeeds Beckett University
Procurement Carbon CalculatorCambridge CouncilUCL
Supporting SchoolsColchester CouncilUnivesrity of Essex
Public HealthCornwall CouncilUnivesrity of Exeter
Impact of Home WorkingDurham CouncilUnivesrity of Durham
Care Home Energy EfficiencyHertforshire CouncilUnivesrity of Hertfordshire
Community FinanceLewes and Eastbourn CouncilsUniversity of Sussex
Housing Retrofit and JobsLondon Borough of LambethLondon South Bank University
Modelling Housing RetrofitLondon Borough of SuttonUCL
Decarbonisation TrainingNorth of Tyne Combined Authoritytbc
Community Engagement South Gloucester CouncilUniversity of West of England
E-bikes SchemeWorcester City CouncilUniversity of Worcester

The aims of the Net Zero Innovation Programme

  • Support partnerships between councils and the higher education sector to develop partnership and coproduction skills through a series of facilitated training sessions.
  • Provide funding, space, time and opportunity for researchers and local authorities to co-create practical responses to local-level challenges in reducing carbon emissions.
  • Expand partnership networks between councils and universities across the whole country.
  • Showcase how universities and local authorities can work in collaboration on adaption and mitigation strategies at the local and regional level as the United Kingdom prepares to host COP26 in November 2021.
  • Offer support to all councils and universities not on the programme through sharing lessons on webinars, blogs and podcasts.
  • Support the cohort to share their learning, providing support to a greater number of council and university partnerships over time.

Read more about the programme’s pilot workshops held in April 2020 on the Policy Postings blog:

If you have any questions about the Net Zero Innovation Programme please email isabel.bennett.14@alumni.ucl.ac.uk  

Timeline and milestones

Date  Milestone
October 2020Official launch of programme

October 2020

Partnership development workshop webinars

Three two-hour sessions designed to build the foundations of partnership working techniques.

November 2020

10.00-12.00 on:

9 Nov

16 Nov

23 Nov

Co-production Sandpits

A series of three two-hour sandpits to co-produce and refine projects.

An additional drop in session for project teams will be offered on 30 Nov 10.-00-12.00

January -June 2021

Project delivery

Development and delivery of collaborative projects.

July 2021


Reporting, evaluation, dissemination and next steps

The cohort will reconvene for a final series of activities to pull together the outcomes of project work as well as learning gained throughout the process and to prepare and disseminate final outputs. This will include the further support workshops to help people in other councils and universities to implement a similar project.