Theme 1: Where Are We?

Session 1: Where We Are


Overview of the gap between action that is being taken and the ambition of the Paris Agreement in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.



Amory Lovins, Co-founder and Chief Scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute, USA

Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science in the Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment and Department of Physics, University of Oxford

Rupert Read, Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia

Session 2: Parallel Sessions

a. What Do We Mean by Net Zero? 


The explicit climate goal of the Paris Agreement as stated in Article 2 is ‘holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C’. Article 4 points to this long-term goal and describes a goal related to emissions: the need to achieve ‘balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases’. This statement on ‘greenhouse gas balance’ is consistent with multiple interpretations which differ in their implications for emissions. Clear interpretations are needed to make Article 4 well-aligned with Article 2, and operational for national and international climate policies. Furthermore, a number of countries have made a political commitment to Net Zero emissions; yet it is unclear exactly what this means. This session discussed how the GHG balance objective of Article 4 can be interpreted alongside Article 2 and the implications that may follow from this.




Dr Jan Fuglestvedt, Research Director, Cicero, Norway

Richard Millar, Senior Analyst for Climate Science at the Committee on Climate Change, United Kingdom

Heleen van Soest, International Climate Policy Researcher with PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency

Duncan McLaren, Visiting Researcher at Linköping University, Sweden, and Professor in Practice and Research Fellow at Lancaster University

Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, Head of Climate Science and Impacts at Climate Analytics, Berlin


b. How Much Can We Reduce Emissions Using Currently Available Approaches?


Achieving net zero will require a major transition in global energy systems and could also have great implications for land use. Papers should focus on what can be achieved without major innovation, through techniques that are already deployed, and/or the critical constraints to these approaches. The scope of this session included changes to demands for energy and land use services, improvements in resource and energy efficiency, deployment of zero carbon energy resources, and options for greenhouse gas removal on the land.



Prof Nick Eyre, Director of the UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand

Ella Adlen, Research and Programmes Manager, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

Zakia Soomauroo, Doctoral Student at the Chair of Economics of Climate Change Studies of the Technical University of Berlin

Kate Dooley, Political Scientist, University of Melbourne

Session 3: How Can We Achieve Net Zero on a Flourishing Planet? 


The policies and practices required to achieve net zero will have profound impacts on economic and socio-ecological systems, and hence our capacity to achieve goals such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This session outlined the challenges and explored how different pathways to Achieving Net Zero might promote synergies and minimize negative consequences for societies and ecosystems, with a focus on food, water, biodiversity, health and equity.


Prof Pete Smith, Professor of Soils and Global Change at the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland

Shilpi Srivastava, Research Fellow, Resource Politics at Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex

Jo House, Reader in Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Bristol

Nathalie Seddon, Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford

Theme 2: Where Do We Want to get To?


Session 4:  How Can Innovations Reduce Emissions?


This session explored the potential and, where possible, actual outcomes of radical approaches for reducing emissions into the atmosphere. Innovations may be social, ecological, organisational, technical or combinations. Innovations may relate to any emitting activity or system, ranging from land use, ecosystem management, food and the built environment to mobility, communications, and digitalisation. Contributions will analyse not only the type of innovation but its applicability at different scales.


Dr Sarah Darby, Acting Leader of the Environmental Change Institute’s Energy Programme at the University of Oxford

Barbara Hammond, CEO of Low Carbon Hub, United Kingdom

Gunnar Luderer, Leader, Energy Systems Group at PIK and Lead Scientist for the REMIND Integrated Energy Economy Climate Model

Nick Eyre, Director of the UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand

Frederic Bauer, Postdoctoral Fellow at Environmental and Energy Systems Studies, Lund University, Sweden

Session 5: How Can We Recapture the Already Emitted? 


This session explored the wide range of proposed and pilot approaches to recapture already-emitted GHG. Is recapture from the atmosphere at high purity inevitable, or is innovative recapture at lesser purity possible and advantageous from the atmosphere, biomass, or ocean? How will recaptured GHG be isolated for millennial timescales, and is that scalable to national impact. Is re-use or utilisation limited by Life Cycle scrutiny, and how will this be assessed?  


David Hone, Chief Climate Change Advisor in the Shell Scenarios Team

Phil Renforth, Associate Professor at Heriot-Watt University and an Associate Director of the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions

Andrew Cavanagh, Geologist, SCCS, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh

Andrew R. Barron, Sêr Cymru Chair of Low Carbon Energy and Environment at Swansea University

Session 6: Parallel Sessions


a. How Can Net Zero Fit into International Governance and Regulatory Frameworks? 


This session considered the international governance and regulatory framework within which a net zero goal is set. It explored in particular the potential (and limits) of the climate change regime, in light of the recently concluded 2018 Katowice Rules, to instil clarity, transparency, understanding and accountability for delivering on nationally determined contributions (NDCs). It also considered the potential (and limits) of the existing legal and regulatory framework in enhancing ambition and ensuring progression of parties' NDCs towards achieving the net zero goal, and ways to strengthen it.



Lavanya Rajamani, Professor of International Environmental Law, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford

Andrew Higham, Ecologist and Political Strategist, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

MJ Mace & Claire Fyson, Lawyer and Independent Consultant & Research Analyst at Climate Analytics

Cleo Verkuijl, Researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute

Janos Pasztor, Executive Director of the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative (C2G), USA


b. How Can We Achieve Net Zero in Cities, Regions, and the Private Sector?


Dozens of cities, sub-national jurisdictions, and businesses have set net zero targets. What does Net Zero mean to these different actors and how might they contribute to it? How can this action from below help countries scale up their own ambition and contribute to the global goal? This session explored the state of efforts toward net zero by sub- and non-state actors, examined their interactions with national governments, and discussed methods for increasing the impact of such actions.




Thomas Hale, Associate Professor in Public Policy (Global Public Policy), Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council’s Cabinet Member for a Zero Carbon Oxford

Galina Alova, DPhil Candidate, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford

Margot Pellegrino, Assistant Professor in Spatial Planning and Urbanism at the Lab’Urba laboratory at Université Paris Est Marne la Vallée

Kathy Mulvey, Accountability Campaign Director, Climate & Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), United Kingdom

Session 7: What Implications Does Net Zero Have on Equity, Ethics and Intergenerational Justice?

Attempting to achieve Net Zero will raise a wide range of social and ethical issues, including issues of fairness within countries, across borders, across sectors and between generations. How should the burden of reducing emissions and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere be shared? How should we navigate the synergies and trade-offs between effective, enduring policy, and principles of justice?



Dr Matthew Ives, Senior Research Officer in Complex Systems Economic Modelling, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

Henry Shue, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford

Celeste Renaud, Postgraduate Student at Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Dave Frame, Director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute (NZCCRI) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Oliver Geden, Head of the EU Research Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) and Research Associate at the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS), University of Oxford

Theme 3: How Do We Get There?


James Shaw, New Zealand Minister of Climate Change 

In order to achieve net zero by 2050, New Zealand has delivered their first ever cross government action plan, a climate change response zero carbon bill, and is in the process of fixing the ETS and reducing agricultural emissions. The Government has taken up more than half of the Parliamentary Commission's recommendations, which resulted in establishing an independent climate change commission to set clear targets for net zero. The zero carbon bill limits warming to 1.5C, reduces all GHGs except biogenic methane to zero by 2050, includes legislation for climate change adaptation, and ensures that emissions will be 10% below 2007 levels by 2030. 

Session 8: What Policy Developments and Financial Incentives Are Required to Achieve Net Zero?


How can policy be developed in a way that appropriately incentivises timely investment in reductions in emissions, removal of carbon dioxide, and/or both reductions and removal from the atmosphere? How can these relevant policy designs be effectively implemented and what are the techno-economic, social and institutional challenges and opportunities in doing so in different country and trans-national contexts? How might proposed approaches be appropriately incentivised at the different stages of research, development, demonstration and deployment for both emissions reduction and emissions removal?


Dr Radhika Khosla, Research Director of the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development at Somerville College, University of Oxford

Bjorn Haugstad, Director General of the Department of Climate, Industry and Technology in the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Norway

David Hawkins, Director, Climate Policy, Clean and Clean Energy Program, USA

Jessica Strefler, Researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany

Jamie Clarke, Executive Director, Climate Outreach, United Kingdom

Session 9: How Can We Enhance Ambition Towards Sustainable Net Zero?


While a number of countries have a stated policy of achieving Net Zero there is a lack of clarity as to what is meant by Net Zero and few details as to timelines. This session looked ahead to the global stocktake in 2020 and asked what it will take to enhance ambition towards Net Zero in the context of sustainable development – increasing the number of countries making such a commitment and refining the scope and timeline for the achievement of this objective.


Clare Shakya, Director of IIED’s Climate Change Group, United Kingdom

Jonathan Scurlock, Chief Policy Adviser, Renewable Energy and Climate Change National Farmers’ Union, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire

Rebecca Heaton, Head of Climate Change, Drax

Barry Gardiner, Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), United Kingdom

Achieving Net Zero Town Hall Meeting

This meeting allowed members of the public to hear and pose questions to key participants of Achieving Net Zero. 




Amory Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute, USA

David Hone, Chief Climate Advisor for Shell, United Kingdom

Radhika Khosla, Research Director of the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Oxford

EJ Fawcett, Oxford Youth School Strikes for Climate

This event is summarised in briefing note 12.

Steering Committee Members:

Roger Aines1, Myles Allen2, Katherine Calvin3, Sarah Darby2, Nick Eyre2, Dave Frame4, Jan Sigurd Fuglestvedt5, Stuart Haszeldine6, Gideon Henderson2, Cameron Hepburn2, Matthew Ives2, Radhika Khosla2, Tim Kruger2, Lavanya Rajamani7, Nathalie Seddon2, Clare Shakya8, Pete Smith9, Phil Williamson10, Charlie Wilson11


Conference Administrator: Heather Waller2, Amber Prime2


1. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; 2. University of Oxford; 3. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; 4. Victoria University of Wellington; 5. CICERO; 6. University of Edinburgh; 7. Centre for Policy Research; 8. International Institute for Environment and Development; 9. University of Aberdeen; 10. Natural Environment Research Council; 11. University of East Anglia