Net Zero Wooden Blocks

Ricardo develops new dataset to help local authorities tackle the climate emergency

16 Jul 2022


The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released a significant update to its long-running UK local authority and regional carbon dioxide data statistics, covering a broader set of greenhouse gases. The improved scope and granularity of the new dataset provides local authorities with better insight into their pollution contributions, and an improved baseline on which to build their net zero plans and strategies.

Global strategic engineering and environmental consultancy, Ricardo, was instrumental in developing this update in response to local authorities’ need to understand their full greenhouse emissions: not just carbon dioxide, allowing for improved insight into all sources contributing to climate change.

For the first time, the scope of the dataset now includes emissions data on methane and nitrous oxide. The addition of these gases is particularly important to local authorities with large rural areas, which may have significant emissions from agriculture and/or land use, land-used change and forestry (LULUCF), or local authorities with significant waste generation. This latter change - assigning emissions to the local authority responsible for generating the waste not where the waste is treated - allows for greater transparency in reporting as local authorities will now be able to report more accurately the emissions for which they are responsible.

James Harries, Ricardo’s lead on local authority climate emergency support said: “For the first time, data will be publicly available on all the main greenhouse gases at local authority level. This new dataset will really help authorities understand the true challenge they face in addressing the climate emergency and where they can best focus their action.”

In the UK, Ricardo leads the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) and the Greenhouse Gas Inventory Programmes for the UK Government and is the designated National Inventory Agency. Since 2005, Ricardo and its partner organisations have produced annually a carbon dioxide emissions dataset by region and local authority (including National Parks) in the UK as a subset of the annual inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. The statistics can be used by local authorities to help identify high emitting sources of carbon dioxide and energy intensive sectors, monitor changes in carbon dioxide emissions over time, and help design carbon reduction strategies.

Further supporting local authorities’ journeys to net zero, Ricardo’s experts are helping them derive greater value from the dataset than previous iterations, through scenario analysis tools like their in-house Net Zero Projection tool. This enables more accurate and complete estimates of the impacts of future policies and measures that support decision-making in response to the climate emergency. Ricardo will also deliver a three-part series of virtual training sessions for local authorities this autumn via its EMAQ programme.