Innovation Zero brought some 200 providers exhibiting their low carbon solutions and 200+ speakers sharing their expertise with over 7,000 attendees at the Olympia, London. The event was dedicated to driving sustainable innovation and shaping a net zero future across a number of different fields.
The Sustainable Future News team attended day one of the event, joining interviews and panel discussions between politicians, industry experts and regulatory bodies alike.
Key points from the event looked at the benefits that come with a push to net zero, the challenges that come with the process, along with the role governments play in the transition.
Below, we collate some of the key talking points and highlights from the event, but we will be sharing broader insights in the weeks to come:
Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden on unlocking ‘huge prize’ through green investment.
“There can be no doubt about where the future of our economy is heading. The whole world is racing to decarbonise. It’s just a case of how quickly we can get there and how we can make sure that society benefits from that transition.”
Citing research by the business management consultancy, McKinsey, Dowden said that net zero goods and services could contribute £1 trillion to UK businesses by 2030.
Unlocking this “huge prize to be won”, continued Dowden, will require “unprecedented levels of investments” of an additional £50 to £60 billion each year through the coming decades and continued “pitching the UK as a land of green opportunities.”
“We’ve already committed to policies and ambitions that will leverage around £100 billion of private investment. That is money that will finance new industries and innovative low-carbon technologies and which in turn is expected to support up to 480,000 green jobs by 2030.
“We’re working hard in a host of other ways to ensure that the UK is in a winning position with a winning proposition for investments. We’re developing a strong green industrial base across the country, in tribute to our rich manufacturing and engineering heritage.”
Chris Skidmore MP on whether the UK was sending the right signals internationally regarding its position on climate change.
“We have this opportunity to send a signal to international climate change. I still feel that opening a coal mine in Cumbria sends absolutely the wrong international signal and totally undermines the UK’s climate leadership for the future,” said Skidmore.
“I see this as something that is potentially so disastrous for UK climate leadership. So potentially, in the here and now, that is an immediate decision that should be stopped.”
When asked whether the decision to open the Cumbria coal mine angered him Skidmore replied:
“What I tried to do with the Net Zero Review is take that rational, evidence-based approach to those who often want to make you think that you’re emotional, who often want to put you in a box and say that net zero is a crazy eco-project. I didn’t want to lose the legitimacy of demonstrating that this transition can be done, that it’s reasonable, and that it’s a reality that needs to happen.”
Skidmore concluded the media is currently exaggerating a “tiny” number of opponents of net zero and, in reality, the silent majority are in favour, so the government is wrong to delay decisions on net zero funding until the autumn. By then firms will head to the US to make the most of the subsidies, courtesy of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Salah Said, head of sustainability for Klarna on supporting innovative solutions, driving system-level changes and involving consumers in their sustainability journey.
“If everybody just focused on what they need to do in order to get their own claim, then the world isn’t going to go anywhere. When we support those new solutions in the carbon removal space and beyond, it’s really about helping those solutions get off the ground so other companies and the world can benefit from them.”
“It’s an ecosystem change and a systems change we’re looking for. It’s really important for us to support companies like the Human Rights Watch because we need to drive policy and the ecosystem towards this new approach”
“The default should always be, don’t wait until you have all the answers, just start acting and create viable impact. This is so in the nature of Klarna to have a default to action and try to see an impact by just doing something and not waiting too long”
“You can be a low-emitting company or a high-emitting company, Klarna is on the low end of that side. That means we have a much more ability to pay for projects outside of our value chain. If you’re a high emitting company because you’re manufacturing a lot of products, and you have all this machinery, you ended to focus much more on decarbonising your supply chain and making sure that you have the right pricing mechanisms in place.”
“We want our consumers to understand our approach, and we want to take them with us on our journey.”
Guy Newey, chief executive officer at technology and innovation centre Energy Systems Catapult on the role of government.
“If you look at the history of energy innovation, it takes a long time. Take shale gas, probably the greatest innovation over the last 30 years, with all the downsides aside.
Everyone goes ‘what an overnight success that was’, yes, after 30 or 40 years of patient government support through credits and various other avenues. It takes a long time for some of these technologies to come to market.
“So, what’s the role of government? Yes, it’s putting as much money as it can afford into innovations over a long period of time, but even more important than that, is creating the market frameworks that are going to give confidence to people investing in the kind of companies we [need to achieve net zero], that there is going to be a genuine market pull for it. If you have confidence that there are going to be customers for your idea, for your innovation, that is a scale above anything the government can afford on the innovation support side.”
Innovation Zero was essential because it served as a moment dedicated to driving sustainable innovation and shaping a future of net zero. It highlighted important points to remember for a practical and realistic shift towards net zero.
These points include recognising the extensive work ahead of us and understanding that the challenges and solutions are not limited to individual nations, but have global implications. It also emphasised the benefits of achieving this transition, along with the need for many different solutions across many different industries to succeed, there is no one size fits all.
Governments were acknowledged for their role in investment into net zero innovation, but creating the right conditions for private investment was seen as the bigger win. Finally, it stressed the importance of getting customers on board willingly rather than forcing changes upon them.
Everyone at Sustainable Future News found the event insightful and informative, making connections with speakers, exhibitors, and other sustainability professionals. The team will be taking forward many of these points into future content.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?