United Kingdom


Clean Energy RD&D investments

The UK was the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming. This requires the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, compared with the previous target of at least 80% reduction from 1990 levels. Our Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement commits the UK to reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. The UK has also recently brought forward legislation for the Sixth Carbon Budget, proposing a target which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035, compared to 1990 levels.

The UK recognises that sustained investment in research, development and demonstration will be critical to maintain our strategic advantage as a global science & technology leader, to achieve our ambitious national climate and energy targets and to achieve our shared global goal of limiting average global temperature rises to below 2 degrees and closer to 1.5 degrees target.

Furthermore, the UK has committed to increase our investment in Research & Development to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and to increase public funding for R&D to £22 billion per year by 2024 to 2025.

The UK’s membership of Mission Innovation is led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) whose mission is to build a stronger, greener future including through unleashing innovation and tackling climate change.  As a member of Mission Innovation, the UK committed in 2015 to double clean energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) investment from a baseline of £200 million in priority areas. The UK has surpassed this commitment, investing £533 million against this baseline in 2019-2020. Over the next four years, BEIS is responsible for delivering the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio from 2021-25, which represents a doubling of the UK’s £505m Energy Innovation Programme over the past five years (2015-21). The new funding aims to decrease the costs of decarbonisation and to set the UK on its path to Net Zero, creating world-leading industries and new jobs.  It also aims for this public investment to be complemented by up to £3.5 billion of matched and follow-on funding from the Private Sector.

In addition, UK Research and Innovation has a current portfolio of £1bn active grants investing in research and innovation and training the next generation of research and innovation leaders spanning the full energy value chain from generation, storage, distribution, end-use and energy efficiency with collaborations across disciplinary boundaries from climate research, biotechnology, energy storage, renewables, hydrogen, CCUS, new energy materials to economics, policy, regulation, environment, energy efficiency and demand, and consumer behaviour. Our future investments, which will be rooted in an understanding of the economic, regulatory, social and behavioural aspects of the UK’s energy challenges, will focus on areas of significant UK potential that will be critical to the UK’s Net Zero target.

The Prime Minister has pledged to double UK International Climate Finance to £11.6 billion, setting a clear benchmark for the international community ahead of COP26. And through the Ayrton Fund, we committed to spend £1bn on Official Development Assistance (ODA)-funded RD&D in clean energy technology and business models for developing countries over five years from April 2021.