Emission Measurement Systems Programme - NCAS

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: National Centre for Atmospheric Science


The UK government has committed through the Climate Change Act 2008 to achieving net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 and the Sixth Carbon Budget brings greater clarity and guidance on the pathway the UK must follow. Beneath the ambition is a highly complex societal challenge to which we are seeking definitive outcomes. An outcome we can only be confident in achieving with empirical evidence: how will we know we have progressed towards and achieved net zero balance across the UK? An outcome which can only be delivered with understanding, engagement, and action from all relevant key stakeholder groups: how do we operationalise and efficiently make accessible GHG data to enable net zero actions? The solution is a near "real-time" feedback loop, providing diagnostic and analytical insight, monitoring nationwide emissions. Whilst being agnostic of specific policies, strategies and plans, this system would enable tracking of the impacts due to policy intervention and identification of unintended consequences.

With advances in science and technology, we are now in the position to move towards a nationwide, observations-based, policy agnostic and timely assessment of GHG emissions. This new assessment complements the current emissions inventory, which typically takes 2 years to compile, and goes beyond the reporting of the Act's legal framework. An observations-based estimates of GHG emissions would provide UK government, industry and citizens with the near real time data that are needed to act with confidence in delivering net zero. The need for an emissions "live dashboard" and importance of direct measurement was referenced by Patrick Vallance, UK Government Chief Scientific Advisor in an article in The Times (10 August 2021).

The UK science community is already working in collaboration with, and for, Government to support net zero ambitions and societal transformation. Essential to the support of both is an integrated, common-use, traceable GHG Emissions Measurement System (EMS) providing regional, temporal and activity-based data to inform and monitor emissions that is run on a long-term operational basis.


10 25 50