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Politicians join forces with Leeds researchers for net-zero solutions

Press release

University of Leeds academics have worked alongside with politicians to help address urgent climate issues.

Their work is part of a new essay collection that blends politics and cutting edge research to understand not just climate science but the science of the political solutions.

Dr Cat Scott, Dr Mark Sumner, and Professor John Barrett were each partnered with an MP to craft an essay highlighting areas where work is still needed on climate policy and point to available policy and technical solutions.

The essay collection, Net Zero Exchanges: Connecting policy and research for climate action, features voices from across the political spectrum and from a range of research institutions. It is particularly pertinent as the Government is due to publish a Net Zero Strategy, ahead of the UK hosting COP26 in November.

Dr Scott, based in the School of Earth and Environment, worked with Daisy Cooper MP. Together, they call for central government funding to support woodland creation alongside the planting and maintenance of trees outside woodlands.

Dr Sumner, a lecturer in the School of Design, and Lisa Cameron MP considered the impact of fast fashion. They propose the development of an industry-specific Extended Producer Responsibility scheme to reward retailers taking action on climate change and expose those who are not.

John Barrett, Professor of Energy and Climate Policy in the Sustainability Research Institute, and Bill Esterson MP outline the need for a coherent plan from Government to address UK consumption-based emissions. This includes carbon emissions of everything we consume in this country, not simply the emissions that occur within the UK.

Of his essay, Professsor Barrett said: “The UK Government is currently working to reduce GHG emissions in the UK but less interested in the embodied emissions imported for UK consumption.”

“We need to explore all available mitigation options including reducing emissions associated with imports in order to reach challenging but necessary global climate ambitions.”

The collection was coordinated by the All-Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group. It showcases the strength of UK science and research and the level of cross-party support for climate action.

Dr Scott said: “Pairing academics with MPs has enabled us to produce essays that place the latest research in the context of conversations going on at the heart of parliament.”

Dr Sumner added: “Hopefully, the collection can prompt new system thinking, greater collaboration and positive action across industry, government and society.”

Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group, Caroline Lucas MP, said: “We won’t all agree on the necessary course of action in each sector. And we may not even agree on the speed or scale with which it is necessary to reduce emissions. But we share a common conviction that the climate crisis is a challenge that can and must be surmounted.

“Deeper engagement between parliamentarians and the scientific community is a vital step in ensuring that we do.”

Further information

The project was sponsored by to Manchester Metropolitan University, Durham University, Imperial College London, the University of Leeds, the University of Sheffield, the University of Warwick and the UKRI Natural Environment Research Council.

Image by Eva Dang on Unsplash