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03 May 2024

Thousands gather at London Olympia for the UK’s largest net zero industry event

Thousands gather at London Olympia for the UK’s largest net zero industry event

Almost 10,000 people, including industry experts, business professionals, funders, academia, politicians and innovators have gathered at London’s Olympia to discuss, debate and review the latest thinking and key issues around climate change mitigation, policy, investment, clean technology innovation and implementing low carbon solutions.

Experts interested in the fight against climate change, gathered this week at Innovation Zero 2024, the UK government-backed two-day international congress at London Olympia from 30 April to 1 May 2024. The congress was one of the largest sustainability and net zero expos ever seen in the UK, with a comprehensive programme featuring hundreds of world-class speakers across 175+ content sessions, all of whom are experts in climate change mitigation, clean technology innovation and implementing low carbon solutions.

Speaking at the opening of the congress, Innovation Zero chair, Sir Liam Fox MP, said that the event would improve connectivity and link policy makers to innovators so that clean tech solutions to the challenge of climate change could be fast-tracked and implemented at the pace needed to meet net zero targets and create a more sustainable world.

“We need a sense of urgency on the issue, to continually stress the concept of sustainability and use technology to shape the world around us, not let the world shape us,” Fox said. He welcomed “the shapers” to the event and said it was they who had it within their grasp to shape a more sustainable world and he looked forward to the congress providing a platform for those discussions to take place.

Professor Jim Skea, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agreed with Liam Fox’s call for urgent action. “More than a century of human activity is to blame for the problems we face,” he said. “Up to 3.5 billion people live in situations that are vulnerable to climate change and hazards and it is developing countries and small island state that are suffering adverse impact. Some of the effects of climate change are irreversible, so adapting to the climate change we have seen is crucial,” said Skea.

There were grounds for optimism, Skea said. “Half of all global emissions are covered by statutory legislation, the price of solar and wind are getting cheaper, now meeting 10% of global power demand and economies of scale and learning by doing has improved the situation, as witnessed by the massive decline in cost of batteries,” he said.

Skea had a warning though. “We won’t realise net zero unless we influence the demand side. We need to change people’s behaviour and actually by 2050, emissions could be reduced by up to 70% due to demand side actions alone,” he said. More investment was needed in infrastructure, especially in areas like electric vehicle changing, Skea said, but “despite the urgent challenge facing us, we have the tools to do it,” he said.

Giving a keynote address at the congress, Claire Coutinho MP, secretary of state for energy security and net zero, said: “Government does have a role to play to address supply chain constraints around climate change, which is why we’ve launched a £1bn green industries growth accelerator. We are also making targeted investments in priority future technologies like fusion energy, small modular reactors, carbon capture and hydrogen.”

She was also keen to stress the point that public support for measures to address the climate challenge was essential. “We have to carry the public with us. Consumers need to know we are doing things in a proportionate way and with the cost-of-living crisis we need to persuade the public,” she said. Coutinho also defended the government’s actions on net zero and denied fudging its messaging around the issue. “We have decarbonised quicker than every other country because we have had a broad political consensus. I want that consensus to continue. We need to win the battle with families who are finding it tough and be proportionate in our approach,” she said.

The secretary of state also said that the government was confident that it would meet its net zero commitments and was totally committed to its carbon budgets. She cited the huge increase in offshore wind that the government had overseen as evidence of this and said that she wanted that to continue. Conceding that it was still taking too long to get projects on stream, Coutinho said that the planning system needed to be speeded up and that measures to encourage more pension fund investment were also required. “We have decarbonised more than any other major country. Prosperous economies are the ones that will have access to cheap green energy and clean energy is one of our most successful industries. I want that to continue,” she said.

Ed Miliband MP, shadow secretary of state for climate change and net zero, was also a keynote speaker at Innovation Zero. Speaking to a packed auditorium, he defended Labour’s recent announcement that it was to scale back its £28bn green spending proposals. “Per capita, our plans are similar to what Biden is spending in the US,” he said. “We will build a future on fiscal responsibility and the single biggest financial commitment we are making is in the green transition,” Miliband claimed.

He said that Labour was already working hard on measures to unlock planning and the grid connection system and had clear targets and aims on decarbonisation. He said that the party had been working closely with industry and was all set to hit the ground running should they win the next general election. “We will be day-one ready to go,” he said.

Miliband was also keen to stress the energy and expertise on show at Innovation Zero. “At this congress there are innovators who are impatient to get things done. I believe that Britain can do big things - and we need to do that by encouraging these innovators to make a difference,” he said.

He also criticised what he called “the anti-net zero brigade” for opposing onshore wind and rejected what he saw as a pessimism amongst some of his political opponents about what could be achieved. He said that a future Labour government would see closer working between the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and the Treasury than was currently the case and that there would be more effective ownership of the issue across the whole of government.

“Some people see the challenges that we face as daunting and they are, but they are also inspiring too. All of us here at this congress are in the better lives business and that’s why we care about wanting to improve things,” said Miliband.

As well as leading keynote addresses, discussions and debates, the two-day Innovation Zero congress also saw hundreds of climate tech exhibitors showcasing their work and more than 175 content sessions, featuring 650 leading experts in climate change mitigation, clean technology innovation and implementing low carbon solutions offering up their insights and solutions on how to address the climate crisis and achieve net zero.

Commenting on the success of the event, Paul Dunne, Innovation Zero CEO and co-founder, said: “We are delighted with our second annual Innovation Zero congress, which saw a 44% increase in attendees year on year, creating what is now acknowledged as the UK’s premier showcase for collaboration and innovation in the climate tech sector. The top-class line-up of speakers and panellists we assembled together with our highly knowledgeable and engaged audience have made for a really inspiring event which I am sure will further enthuse and encourage even more people to return for Innovation Zero 2025. As speaker after speaker stressed at this year’s event, we are all on a journey towards achieving net zero and together, working in partnership and collaboration, we will be successful.”


Notes to the Editor

Photographs from Innovation Zero are available at the link below for free download. Password: Innovation24

For further information, interviews and further photographs, contact Andy Walker at the Innovation Zero media office on +44 (0) 7791 997602 or

Innovation Zero is organised by Clean Tech Events Ltd.

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