Review of Environment Agency Carbon Reduction Approaches for Net Zero by 2030

16th June 2020

We are proud to announce that we have been commissioned by the Environment Agency to deliver a review of carbon reduction approaches. The UK government has set a target of achieving Net Zero by 2050. Net zero means that total Green House Gas emissions to the atmosphere are equal to, or less than emissions removed from the environment.

Achieving Net Zero at the Environment Agency

The Environment Agency’s total emissions are 180,000 tCO2e per annum, this includes 44,000 tCO2e from direct activities and 136,000 tCO2e from supply chain (46% of which is from construction).

To start to reduce  emissions, the Environment Agency have set an ambitious organisational target of reaching Net Zero by 2030, to achieve this it will need to reduce the CO2 emitted from both its operations and supply chain by 45%. Once this has been achieved the Environment Agency  will then need to balance the remaining residual CO2 emissions by investing in a cost-efficient mix of approaches which remove an equivalent or larger amount of CO2 from the atmosphere, e.g:

  • Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage
  • Biological carbon sequestration/absorption
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Carbon offsetting and insetting
  • Land use and land use change
  • Negative emission technologies (also known as CO2 removal technologies)

Purpose of this study

The Environment Agency have less than 10 years in which to meet the Net Zero by 2030 target. This project will pull together (in a 10 month programme) a robust evidence base to help the Environment Agency understand how best to balance its  residual CO2 emissions. It will help answer key questions such as:

  • Which CO2 balancing approaches will be most effective at reducing residual CO2 emissions?
  • What CO2 offsetting and insetting options are available to the Environment Agency and which ones are the most suitable, feasible, cost-efficient, sustainable, ethical and politically acceptable?
  • Where (geographically) should the Environment Agency work?
  • Who should the Environment Agency collaborate with?

Approach

The project will be delivered in 4 stages:

Stage 1 – Desk Based Study: Synthesise existing evidence to understand the different approaches which can be used to balance the Environment Agency’s CO2 emission describing: pros and cons, quantification of their CO2 removal potential (metrics/figures), any positive interrelationships (e.g. with biodiversity net gain), maintenance requirements and costs, guidance on how to calculate CO2 balancing potential and indication of our overall confidence in the science. Evaluate the effectiveness of different approaches and set out their feasibility/suitability.

Stage 2 – Market Study: Undertake a review and critical analysis of the wider market study (Domestic UK and international) to understand which offsetting schemes offer the Environment Agency the best value for money whilst being ethically and politically acceptable. Meet with our supply chain to establish feasibility/suitability of insetting our CO2 emissions through them.

Stage 3 – Partnership Working Opportunities: Identify where (geographically) and with whom (partners) the Environment Agency could work to implement preferred CO2 balancing approaches. To achieve this Eunomia will:

  • Synthesise existing evidence to establish how much capacity (area of land type) is theoretically available within the UK to balance residual CO2 emissions and what the potential demand is to use this land to balance residual CO2 emissions
  • Undertake a GIS-based analysis of the Environment Agency’s estate to understand how much capacity (area/land type) is theoretically available to balance its CO2 emissions and what types of CO2 balancing approaches might be possible/suitable
  • Undertake a questionnaire survey and workshop with key partners to establish:
    • how they are balancing their residual CO2;
    • any good practice we could learn from/adopt; and
    • the potential to work with them to balance our residual CO2 emissions on their land and through their projects.

Stage 4 – Analysis of Findings: Analyse findings, report and communicate project outputs.

Eunomia will lead a team of consultants on this work, including 3Keel, Royal Agricultural University and the University of Hertfordshire. The Environment Agency will also be working collaboratively with Defra, Natural England, the Forestry Commission and IEMA to share data and knowledge and develop a collective understanding of how to balance CO2 emissions.

For further information contact:

Lydia Burgess-Gamble – Principal Scientist, FCRM Research Team

George Beechener – Project Manager, Eunomia