Cambridge Zero

A bold response to the world’s greatest challenge

The University of Cambridge is building on its existing activities and launching an ambitious new climate change initiative. We are calling on the world’s brightest and best to join us in creating a zero-carbon future.

How we’re different

Cambridge Zero is not just about developing greener technologies. It will harness the full range of the University’s research and policy expertise, developing solutions that work for our lives, our society and our economy.

Dr Emily Shuckburgh

Dr Emily Shuckburgh OBE

A world-leading climate scientist and gifted science communicator, Dr Emily Shuckburgh is the Director of Cambridge Zero. She is also Reader in Environmental Data Science in the Department of Computer Science and Technology. In her previous role at the British Antarctic Survey she led a national research programme on polar climate change.


The latest research highlights and news from Cambridge Zero and our partners.

Forest scarred by logging

Ecosystems overload

We are laying waste to the biosphere. If we’re serious about saving millions of species, then it’s our own that must change how it thinks about, lives off and values the planet it inhabits.

10 December 2019

Turbine blades

Green-sky thinking for propulsion and power

We’re seeing a transformational change in the propulsion and power sectors. Aviation and power generation have brought huge benefits – connecting people across the world and providing safe, reliable electricity to billions – but reducing their carbon emissions is now urgently needed.

4 December 2019

Plume of smoke

Cambridge Zero launched

If we are to avert a climate disaster, we must sharply reduce our emissions, starting today. Cambridge Zero, the University's ambitious new climate change initiative, will generate ideas and innovations to help shape a sustainable future - and equip future generations of leaders with the skills to navigate the global challenges of the coming decades.

26 November 2019

“Cambridge Zero will help us imagine – and deliver – a better, healthier zero‑carbon future.”

Pioneering research

Cambridge Zero is bringing together a portfolio of cutting-edge research.

Zero-carbon energy transformation

Developing next-generation power and heating systems, batteries, photovoltaics and turbine design, incorporating bioenergy and hydrogen economy and policies supporting an energy transition.

Health and society

Informing evidence-based policy to support individual and societal change through behavioural science, health and wellbeing research, and social studies, and incorporating climate risk into decision-making in health and social care.

Resources and production

Creating a zero-carbon circular economy incorporating sustainable industry and agriculture, resource efficiency, re-use of products, and recycling of embedded materials into durable new products.

Resilient economic futures

Building sustainability and climate risk assessment into all financial processes and business decisions, by applying artificial intelligence tools and thinking beyond GDP to redefine prosperity in terms of social and natural capital.

Transport, cities and infrastructure

Re-visioning mobility and urban planning by developing innovative solutions with autonomous vehicles, electric aircraft, district power systems, architectural design, and natural construction materials.

Carbon drawdown and climate repair

Advancing carbon capture, geological storage, industrial utilisation and carbon nanotube production, natural climate solutions, and exploration of the legal, ethical and technological dimensions of climate repair.

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Engaging partners

We are growing our existing external engagement and collaboration networks, actively seeking new partners to create a powerful platform for change.

Sustainability in business

The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) works directly with senior leaders, CEOs and boards of leading companies to align their strategy and commercial decisions with the Paris Agreement and drive the transition to net zero across their operations.

The Hughes Hall Centre for Climate Change Engagement aims to increase awareness on company boards of the need for urgent action on climate change. It supports Chapter Zero, which provides a toolkit to help non-executive directors understand and respond to the impacts of climate change on their businesses.

Sustainable Industry

The Maxwell Centre links leading University research across Physical Sciences and Technology with industry and policy, to develop zero-carbon solutions and accelerate their uptake

It provides collaborative working space for stakeholders and hosts the Cambridge components of the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials research and the Faraday Institution, the UK’s independent institute for battery science and technology.

Evidence-based policy

The Centre for Science and Policy's mission is to improve public policy through the more effective use of evidence and expertise, by creating opportunities for public policy professionals and academics to learn from each other.

The Cambridge Conservation Initiative is a collaboration between nine leading conservation organisations and the University, catalysing strategic partnerships across research, education, policy and practice to transform global understanding and conservation of biodiversity and secure a sustainable future.


Cambridge Enterprise supports the University in achieving knowledge transfer and research impact, by helping innovators, experts and entrepreneurs use commercial avenues to develop their ideas and expertise for the benefit of society.

Cambridge Cleantech unites the creators of new cleantech technologies with the financiers, partners and customers who can bring their products and services to fruition.

CISL’s Accelerator & Sustainability Hub helps local and regional entrepreneurs, SMEs and startups tackle the challenges of a transition to a sustainable economy.

Public engagement

Cambridge University Press is a leading publisher in the field of climate and sustainability. It is working directly with researchers and educators to develop a new open platform for early research and collaboration, Cambridge Open Engage.

University of Cambridge Museums is highlighting environmental challenges through Operation Survival, and a new exhibition on co-operation in the face of a changing climate.

The annual Cambridge Science Festival and Festival of Ideas provide public spaces to explore and discuss climate science, new technological advances and our role in shaping the future.

Inspiring leadership

Across the University we are training and nurturing a new generation of climate change pioneers and leaders.

Students working at the living lab
Current students

Living lab

The Living Lab for Sustainability brings together students, academics and staff to test new ideas, apply research to practice, and develop new solutions for enhancing sustainability within the University.

Students bring enthusiasm and ideas, academics bring world-renowned expertise and research, and staff bring practical advice and assistance, leading to more innovative interventions and effective results.


Postgraduate education

Doctoral training

Our doctoral training programmes provide the next generation of researchers with the skills they need to become interdisciplinary leaders and produce cutting-edge research.

Postgraduate education

Graduate study

Cambridge offers a wide range of sustainability-themed graduate programmes at Master’s and Diploma level, and recently launched two new climate change Master’s programmes.

Undergraduate education

Sustainability in the curriculum

The University aims for all students to have access to formal or informal opportunities to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding relating to sustainability matters and solutions, and is consulting on how sustainability can be further embedded in the curriculum.

Emily with children at the primary school
Primary Education

University primary school

The University of Cambridge Primary School is an inclusive, ambitious and innovative place of learning. By connecting primary educators with University researchers to create research-informed teaching resources and creative activities, it aims to support children to become agents of hope, able to contribute positively to their world.

The policy challenges team
Current students

Policy challenges collaboration

How can Cambridgeshire reach net zero emissions by 2050? Through the CUSPE Policy Challenges, a team of early-career researchers worked with the County Council to identify the required policy actions to achieve this goal.


Continuing education

Executive education and short courses

CISL’s sustainability leadership education programmes offer senior leaders insight into innovative, commercially compelling ways to address global trends.

The Institute of Continuing Education organises a wide range of accessible part-time and short courses covering aspects of sustainability and climate change.

Give to Cambridge Zero

Help Cambridge Zero develop solutions to the climate crisis and transition to a zero-carbon world.


Leading by example

Cambridge is the first university in the world to adopt a science based target for carbon reduction, committing us to absolute zero by 2048. Our approach for achieving this is set out in our Carbon Reduction Strategy.

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Reducing direct emissions

We are assessing options to significantly reduce the amount of gas the University uses for space and water heating, and will develop plans to meet our future heat demand through low or zero carbon technologies.

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Renewable energy

We are one of a group of 20 UK universities that have joined forces to enter into a power purchase agreement, to secure 20% of our current electricity demand from a UK wind farm. We are assessing the feasibility of developing our own renewables.

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Building for success

We are taking steps to ensure that lifecycle costs and carbon are key considerations in decisions relating to our development and refurbishment programme, utilising our own academic expertise in this area wherever possible.

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Addressing indirect emissions

We are taking steps to better understand and reduce our indirect emissions, including those from flights, food and our wider supply chain. We will begin setting targets for these emissions this academic year.

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Involving staff and students

We are engaging with staff and students through a number of initiatives, including a programme to devolve budgets and responsibility for electricity use to individual departments.

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Zero-carbon hospital

Cambridge Children’s, a new children’s hospital and research institute in collaboration with Cambridge University Hospitals and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust, aspires to be the first zero-carbon hospital in the UK.

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Upcoming events

6 Feb
Thursday 6th February, 17.30 – 19.00
11 Feb
Tuesday 11th February, 17.30 - 19.00
26 Feb
Wednesday 26th February, 13.30-19.00

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Supported by the Isaac Newton Trust