Skills and Capabilities for a Net-zero UK Economy


Supervisor: Pelin Demirel

Non-accademic partner: British Chambers of Commerce

Studentship start date: 01/10/2023

Application deadline: 11/02/2023

Application details: if you have any questions about the project or application process please get in touch with the supervisor. For the application form see

Supervisor: Pelin Demirel:

For more information on how to apply for this full time PhD check here.

Achieving the UK’s net-zero target to decarbonize all sectors by 2050 requires a landmark change in the economy. It is expected that companies will have to eliminate their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, while significantly reducing their Scope 3 emissions by 2050. Yet, a recent large-scale survey by British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) shows that most firms are significantly behind in their net-zero journey: Majority of the firms do not understand and measure their environmental impact and they lack sound action plans to achieve the emissions reduction targets for 2050. Green labour skills (i.e. technical and managerial) and firms capabilities (i.e. technological and organizational) are going to be important levers foreffectively engaging UK firms into the net-zero transition.

This research project, jointly undertaken by Imperial College London and British Chambers of Commerce, will generate a taxonomy of green skills and capabilities that will be essential for UK’s net-zero transition. It will also generate insights towards the complex relationships that green skills and capabilities have with firms’ economic and environmental performance. One of the fundamental challenges in engaging firms to the net-zero transition is translating the terminology of ‘green skills and capabilities ’into a language understood by businesses. Hence, the study will focus on better understanding ‘green labour skills’ and ‘green firm capabilities’ and how they apply to different types of businesses to move towards tangible net-zero solutions at the firm-level. The project aims to generate frameworks and insights that can help shape the investments of UK firms in green skills and capabilities; whilst providing evidence-based policy guidance on the range of green skills and capabilities that would be essential for the de carbonisation and growth of the UK economy.

As an empirical context, we will focus on the Circular Economy (CE) transition and its three guiding principles of:(1) “eliminating waste and pollution”, (2) “circulating products and materials (at their highest value)” and (3)“regenerating the nature” . In the first phase of the study, using a range of diverse data sources (e.g. BCC firm surveys and UK Innovation Survey , ONS occupational data , UK online firm and job adverts data and patent data ), we will map out the required green labour skills and firm capabilities in connection to the abovementioned three CE principles across a range of UK sectors (likely to include construction, textiles, chemistry, agriculture and heavy industries among others). We will, then, undertake an econometric study of the complex relationships that green skills and capabilities have with firms’ economic and environmental performance. In the second phase of the project, we will organize stakeholder workshops for policy and industry communities to test and validate the findings of this project; as well as effectively disseminating the key insights of the study.