Arc Universities

A major funding opportunity to establish a research hub for Net Zero Transport – focusing on climate adaptation and mitigation solutions for transport systems across modalities and landscapes.

As part of UKRI’s strategic theme of ‘building a green future’ and aligning to the UK’s Net Zero Research and Innovation Framework, UKRI and DfT will support the establishment of a single £10 million flagship Net Zero Transport for a Resilient Future Research Hub. This will build capacity and research critical mass in the UK. The hub will take a systems approach to developing and implementing sustainable, low carbon, adaptation solutions for resilient transport infrastructure and streetscapes.


As the largest contributor to UK emissions, accounting for 27% of emissions, decarbonising the transport sector is a crucial component of achieving the UK’s net zero 2050 target. The scale of transformation required to decarbonise our transport system is unprecedented and at the same time, the climate is already changing. We need to be able to respond quickly to ensure our transport system continues to be resilient and will support our net zero future.

Warmer wetter winters, hotter drier summers and more extreme weather events bring a range of hazards that the transport system is not currently built to withstand. This is generating a dual challenge that needs to be tackled, we need solutions that both reduce the carbon footprint of our transport system and enable it to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Transport and its linked infrastructure and streetscapes are excellent illustrations of the complex interdependencies between:

  • innovation in engineering
  • construction processes
  • materials
  • reuse and recycling
  • new technological modalities
  • people
  • communities
  • our economy
  • policy

Given that most of the infrastructure that will be in place in 2050 are already in service this becomes a challenge of rethinking and reworking our current infrastructure and streetscapes. It also means we should introduce new solutions that are resilient and net zero from the outset.

The most effective way to reduce carbon is to ‘design it out’, rethinking how we can achieve mobility of people, goods, and services without relying on traditional infrastructure design, installation, and current maintenance regimes. At the same time, much of this infrastructure will need to be modified or replaced to help it adapt to the impacts of climate change over this period and into the future.

Compared to development of low carbon emission technologies, the adaptation of existing infrastructure to increase its ability to absorb and recover the effects of climate change is unexplored. Approaches to achieving net zero emissions and creating resilience in transport systems and streetscapes need to be developed rapidly through a wide range of solutions that bring co-benefits such as:

  • wider access
  • reduced inequality
  • enhanced safety
  • reduced waste
  • greater levels of recycling
  • improved air quality
  • biodiversity
  • economic growth
  • environmental net gain

The hub is expected to bring together research, early-stage innovation, and demonstrations across transport modes to create, develop and test climate resilient places. It will bring together work in climate change mitigation and adaptation, recognising that different places and modes will require different solutions but need to learn from each other.

It spans academic disciplines, with work required on materials, construction methods, retrofitting, economics, geography and behaviour change. It meets a pressing UK need to build the resilience of our transport system, and to develop innovations that have international potential as the world faces the same challenges simultaneously.

This hub will provide a focus for the UK transport systems research community, working in close partnership with businesses, communities, government departments, and administrations throughout the UK to tackle research challenges linked to decarbonisation and adaptation of the sector.

The hub will build capacity linking together the investment landscape, carry out research, undertake knowledge exchange, develop key skills, while offering policy solutions and commercialisation for economic growth.

Find out more and apply

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