Net Zero Innovation Programme

The Net Zero Innovation Programme develops partnerships of researchers and climate change officers from councils across all English regions and supports them in tackling the climate emergency.

Climate change hub

Delivered through a collaboration between the Local Government Association (LGA) and University College London (UCL), the Net Zero Innovation Programme brings together councils, universities and other stakeholders to address climate and sustainability challenges at the local level and seeks routes to achieve council’s net zero, adaptation and biodiversity commitments.

Net Zero Innovation Programme: an introductory video

Video transcript

We are living in a climate emergency. According to the United Nations, the world is now warming faster than at any point in recorded history. Local councils want to find solutions to meet their net zero objectives by 2050.

But how can councils achieve this ambitious target when significant barriers and competing pressures exist? Academics also want to be part of this local solution. They are eager to use their knowledge and expertise to take action.

Yet when researchers are time and resource poor, the road to evidence-based action is not always clear. This is where the LGA-UCL Net Zero Innovation
Programme comes in, or NZIP for short.

The programme joins up councils and academics to tackle local climate challenges together. It provides the time, space, funding and support to cohorts of researchers and local council officers to build relationships, improve council capacity around climate change action plans, and test evidence based solutions for local net zero challenges.

24 partners from across England have already participated in the programme, tackling issues ranging from procurement tools to measure and reduce emissions, to active travel tools, and developing health policy that responds to climate
impacts. And it's not only those involved that benefit: the programme is committed to scaling the learning and resources across all councils.

87 per cent of attendees at the NZIP showcase said that they would be likely to use the tools and learning shared by the programme in their action to become net zero by 2050.

NZIP helps to create long-term sustainable relationships between academics and local councils to deliver climate action plans and make meaningful change.

To find out more about our programme, visit the link on screen.

Podcast series: Together towards net zero

During the first cohort of the programme in 2020/21, UCL and the LGA recorded and released a number of podcast episodes documenting the process which partnerships went through. These demonstrate the benefits to local areas through partnership working and the challenges faced. You can stream episodes via the links below.

Case studies

Below you can read case studies from past programmes, demonstrating successful partnership working between councils and universities.


Below are links to relevant blogs which you may find useful.

The Net Zero Innovation Programme: An infographic explainer

A history of the Net Zero Innovation Programme. A long description is below this image.
An explanation of the Net Zero Innovation Programme. Long description is below.


Long description of Net Zero Innovation Programme infographic

The LGA-UCL Net Zero Innovation Programme

The Net Zero Innovation Programme (NZIP) partners councils and academics to solve local climate problems together. Here’s our journey so far...

Partners: In the past two years, NZIP has worked with 24 partnerships from across England and a range of council and university types.

Space and time: Project teams were given the space and time to think, experiment and create interventions that really improve climate outcomes locally.

Partnership building: The programme was an opportunity to build partnerships that lead to real world outcomes and action for impact.

Sustained relationships: 11 out of 12 partners from year one continue to work together to accelerate local climate action as a result of being part of the programme.

Meaningful change: 100 per cent of participants agreed that being involved in the programme helped them to address the climate emergency in their area.

Tools: Partnerships developed solutions ranging from procurement tools to measure and reduce carbon emissions, to tools that support policy decision making in response to climate impacts on health. You can see all the projects developed through the programme by visiting our website.

Widespread learning: Partnerships are encouraged to continue to develop and share their learning to cascade impacts across councils.

NZIP Explained

Councils are declaring climate emergencies. According to the United Nations, the world is warming. faster than at any point in recorded history. 

Local councils want to find solutions to making areas carbon net zero by 2050. How do councils deliver on carbon reduction targets? Create and execute Climate Action Plans? Source funding, capacity and capability for change?

Universities also want to take action, and find evidence-based solutions. Yet, local policy engagement efforts are disjointed and poorly supported beyond the hyper-local. How can universities help?

Immediate, medium and long-term support is needed to connect councils and universities and scale-up solutions across local authorities.

The Programme

This is where the LGA-UCL Net Zero Innovation Programme comes in. The programme works with councils and academics to solve local climate problems together. It does this by:

Riding in tandem: Inviting councils and universities to work together to identify a specific climate problem in their area.

Putting in the miles: Consolidating and scaling learning through producing a real-world project.

Wheels to keep riding: Offering mentorship and support throughout delivery to bolster its effectiveness and continue sustainable partnership building.

Overcoming rough terrain: Building capacity to work together equipping them with tools to address this problem and facilitate collaboration.

Pedalling further: Providing funding to tackle the issue and start delivering a scalable solution.