“It's a lot easier to criticize what people are doing. And but it's a lot harder to come up with solutions.”
Oxford Net Zero is an interdisciplinary research initiative based at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE). It is embedded within the ecosystem of research on climate neutrality. Their research fellows, recruited from partner institutions from around the world, are working to accelerate the transition to a net zero future.
In this series of conversations, you’ll hear about the work these experts are focused on and how their research can be applied to business. You’ll also get to hear their personal stories and achievements you wouldn’t otherwise read in their bio, where they get their inspiration and even what kind of music is on their playlist! Tune in to this series if you’re looking to be inspired, excited and hopeful about the important research underway at Oxford in creating a net zero pathway for the world.
Interviewee: Kaya Axelsson, Policy Engagement Officer and Team Lead at Oxford Net Zero
Interviewer: Charmian Love, Social Entrepreneur in Residence at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
Key takeaways from the conversation
Where does Kaya go as a source of energy and inspiration?
Kaya is a boxer - she boxes for the University of Oxford boxing team and shared that this activity is an outlet and especially important when spending so much time ‘in the books’.
Kaya also draws inspiration from two women in her family. Her mother - who read the newspaper to her every single morning as a way of getting her out of bed (she’s not a morning person!) and would bring out the good news. And her grandma who would be ‘yelling about whatever president was in power’ and how inactive they were on environmental issues on women's issues.
What big questions is Kaya exploring?
In Kaya’s doctoral studies, she is drawing on two key areas:
The need for regulation and policy incentives to connect organisations and sectors to drive change towards a net zero outcome.
Identifying the gaps in voluntary action within the private sector which has helped her to identify what Oxford is defining as ‘sensitive intervention points’; areas where there is a need for policymakers to step in.
How would Kaya like to see businesses engage in climate?
Kaya is particularly excited about the potential of two key sectors when it comes to short term and high impact action on climate change.
The first is road transport. Kaya sees the potential for this industry to decarbonise quickly, and with the help from the government, in the form of the necessary infrastructure. She believes that this sector has an opportunity to write a net zero strategy that is achievable by 2035.
The second is food and agriculture, where she sees a natural sequestration potential if we can crack the engagement along the supply chain and really invest in staffing to build good relationships with those that are growing our food.
What advice does Kaya have for students?
It's a lot easier to criticise what people are doing, but it's a lot harder to come up with solutions. So, never stop challenging but also strive towards solutions and think from the perspective of the person who will be implementing that solution.