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Sustainable Net Zero

Effective routes to accelerate the transition to sustainable Net Zero


Our region faces major challenges in moving to an equitable, sustainable Net Zero. The effects of climate change are already being felt by marginalised urban, rural and coastal communities, which are particularly vulnerable to flooding, heat stress, coastal erosion and a loss of biodiversity.

The GW4 Accelerating to Net Zero transformational project brings together GW4 researchers, government, industry, and communities to better understand the challenges and priorities faced by different sectors in our region, and identify opportunities to collaborate on innovative solutions.

We will Accelerate to Net Zero:

  • Further: Reaching beyond our region, beyond academia and beyond disciplines – we will collaborate with our communities, government, and industry partners to test and deliver interdisciplinary solutions scalable for the whole of the UK and internationally.
  • Faster: Working together will accelerate opportunities –recognising where swift but beneficial and long-lasting changes can be made.
  • Fairer: Developing innovative whole system solutions, with equitable approaches through co-creation.

Applying a whole systems approach, the programme will focus on key themes in which GW4 has internationally competitive and complementary strength across the universities – aviation, maritime, road and rail, digital technologies, and social sciences.

To enable rapid decarbonisation, there is growing consensus that low carbon hydrogen represents a key opportunity to transform our heating and interconnected transport systems. Hydrogen also provides the unique possibility for new cross-sector business partnerships and sector coupling in a way that is currently impossible. GW4 is working to build research excellence across the universities and working with industry to respond to the challenges of using hydrogen as an alternative fuel source.

Our aim is to turn the GW4 region into a whole system Net Zero testbed, where ideas and innovative solutions can be trialled. GW4’s regional diversity provides a unique opportunity to explore and test equitable transitions to Net Zero. Our geography covers two national governments, two health systems, includes areas with among the highest and lowest deprivation rates, and rural, urban and city areas.

As a living lab testbed for sustainable mobility, the project will explore interdependences and opportunities that can be applied across the UK and beyond to accelerate to Net Zero.

Underpinning these themes is the importance of digital innovation. As a region, we have taken a leading role in developing the digital technologies that are transforming people’s lives. We will continue to build on our digital capability across the region to support faster implementation of new and existing technological solutions.

As part of our Net Zero ambitions, GW4 submitted a proposition to the government’s 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review open call. Our proposition focuses on the regional opportunity to make genuine shifts and switches that will achieve sustainable mobility.

Download the proposition here

Project Team

Academic Ambassadors from each GW4 university have been identified to help initially lead and build on this vision. However, achieving and sustaining this transformational project will require the involvement and expertise of many others, from all disciplines, so we encourage all those with an interest to get in touch.

GW4 Net Zero Academic Ambassadors





University project team representatives:



For further details about the Accelerating to Net Zero programme, please contact GW4 Research Development Manager (Net Zero), Dr Katie Lidster or contact your GW4 university project team representative.


Find out more about our previous stakeholder workshop, held in May 2021, which brought together industry, local authorities, national governments, funders and other regional organisations. The stakeholder workshop confirmed that our research strengths and innovation can respond to the challenges different sectors and our region face in achieving Net Zero.

GW4 Accelerating to Net Zero Stakeholder Workshop Exec  Summary

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter