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  • Writer's pictureKat Buckley

From data to action: the journey of UK Zero

We sat down with UK Zero’s CEO and Founder, Leo J Barnett, to chat about the app’s journey so far, from the idea that sparked it to our mission to bring energy data to everyone.

How it all started

I've been building and growing mobile apps for over a decade. My first project was a platform that supported independent underground artists, and my video editing software, Reelshot, has been featured worldwide by Apple. I've always had a keen interest in the environment, closely watching climate change and what we’re doing about it. I wanted to use my skills to be part of the movement pushing for a cleaner future.

I love creating and am driven by problem-solving. I'm very good at simplifying the complex. As climate change and reaching net zero are complex problems, I wanted to use my skills to do something that would have an impact. When COP 26 was coming up, I thought, what would it look like if there was a countdown to the moment the world goes net zero?

I wanted to build a real countdown, with everyone watching, where we witnessed a new historical point in time: the world finally reaching net zero. While I was working on building that countdown with the available data, I found out that the UK’s energy data is open source. I knew then that I wanted to present the UK's energy sources in real-time to people in a modern, beautiful way.

And that’s how UK Zero was born.

The vision behind the app

Our vision is to combine global and local data with meaningful actions people can take to make a personal impact. We want every country in the world to have its energy and emissions data completely transparent, easily accessible, readable, and understandable. By presenting that data in an app format, people can track their country’s progress and start some healthy competition between countries.

On the other end of the spectrum, we want to localise all this data as well. How's your town or city doing? What could it do better? Then, we can enable people to take local actions to help speed up their town or city's progress. 

How does UK Zero work?

UK Zero collates data on our energy sources - solar, nuclear, wind, hydro, biomass, and all fossil fuels, coal, and gas - from the national grid. We take that data, simplify it, make it beautiful, and present it in widgets. 

While a widget on your phone might seem too simple, caring about the climate doesn’t need to be complex or inaccessible. It’s for everyone. Easily accessible and viewable data is the best way to track our energy status and inspire change. We want people to check energy emissions like they check the weather. 

The widget is updated every half an hour. At the end of each day, we create averages for each energy source to show a breakdown of every single year, month, and day to date. Currently, our data is back to 2016, and there's a fresh update every day.

What sets UK Zero apart from other energy-tracking platforms? 

UK Zero is super simple. We’ve designed it with accessibility in mind. Climate consciousness is for everyone, and we don’t want anyone to feel alienated by clunky design or hard-to-understand data. 

We designed our app to be modern, beautiful, and intuitive. You don’t need to be a digital native or a climate expert to use and understand it. It’s for everyone who has an interest in the climate.

Soon, we’ll be able to provide global and local data. Once we do that, there will be no one else like us in the world. The UK can be the first country in the world to make progress in that area. Alongside our data, we want to provide real actions that people can take in their local communities. 

How do you envision UK Zero empowering people to take that action towards a more clean, green future?

When the UK’s energy data is transparent and right in front of people, they’ll be able to see the progress we’re making and use it as momentum for change. We’re seeing the world heat up before our eyes. When extreme weather incidents get closer to home - more flooding, more extreme heat, and extreme wind - it’s on individuals to start taking action and really see what they can do. 

Knowledge is power, and knowing exactly where the UK is on its journey to Net Zero will have a huge impact.

Who is UK Zero for?

UK Zero is for everyone who’s climate conscious and cares about the planet. It gives you the knowledge you need to see the progress we’re making toward a cleaner world. You can use that insight to take actions that will help speed up the UK’s transition to net zero, put pressure on the government and corporations to move the needle on going fully clean, and have solid data to back up your arguments with the climate clueless among us.

What would you say to someone who's feeling overwhelmed by climate doomism? 

You’d be forgiven for letting pessimism creep in. Climate change is scary. However, when we look to the past, what has climate pessimism ever really achieved? Collective optimism is the only way to create change. Be optimistic with your friends, your family, your neighbours, your community, and your country. 

Collectively, we have the power to change our future. With collective optimism and a collective vision, it’s much easier to achieve. 

Join the movement! Download UK Zero, connect with others, and let's work together for a sustainable future.

The UK Zero logo beside a phone with the UK Zero home screen showing the UK's energy mix on the 11th May 2023.


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