The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) is leading a major new £12.6 million research programme to support countries, organisations and companies to develop and deliver plans to reduce emissions, increase nature-based carbon sinks, and adapt to our changing climate.

Following the 2015 Paris Agreement, signatory countries must submit their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change every five years through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). However, developing and delivering science-based, realistic and comprehensive plans, which reconcile competing priorities, is very challenging.

The new programme, entitled International Science for Net Zero Plus, which is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), will create data-driven models and information to support the NDC process and underpin high-impact investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation worldwide. It will focus on natural ecosystems such as forests, which provide the greatest opportunity for land-based mitigation.

Professor Harry Dixon, Associate Director of International Research and Development at UKCEH, explains: “UKCEH scientists will work with international partners to take an integrated approach to net zero planning. Considering trade-offs and co-benefits for food production, biodiversity and soil, water and air quality will be integral to the programme. This approach is known as ‘net zero plus’.

“Efforts to mitigate future climate change must go hand-in-hand with support for climate change adaptation. We will be working in areas of the world which are facing significant future hydrometeorological risks to enhance our understanding of freshwater hazards and our ability to predict them, supporting countries with their National Adaptation Planning.”

The programme focuses on Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and global, intergovernmental initiatives. UKCEH will develop scientific partnerships with international science centres, universities and other stakeholders, and enhance the UK’s contribution to global initiatives including:

  • Intergovernmental initiatives of UN organisations such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • Global scientific initiatives such as the GEWEX (Global Energy and Water Exchanges) Project of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).

The new funding is part of a broader £39 million investment from NERC to tackle major global environmental challenges. The funding has been awarded to project teams at NERC research centres and affiliated science facilities, that specialise in earth, ecological, hydrological, ocean, polar, and atmospheric science. UKCEH is a strategic delivery partner for NERC, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Further information

UKCEH’s national role

UKCEH’s national science infrastructures

UKCEH’s international role

Read the NERC announcement