Case study

Case study

National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory for the UK

In order to comply with and contribute to a number of international commitments the UK is required to produce annual estimates of greenhouse gas an air pollutant emissions. This data is reported to the UNFCCC, UNECE, EU as well as being used to underpin policy development and public reporting within the UK. Ricardo compiles these national emissions inventories on behalf of the UK Government Departments of the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) Defra and Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The overall programme is known as the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI).

To provide annual estimates of emissions for a large number of the greenhouse gases and air pollutants using international agreed and recognised methods. Also to report this data annually to the UK Government, UNFCCC, UNECE and EU.

Ricardo was one of the first organisations in the world to make national estimates of pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions and we have operated the UK emissions inventory programme continually since its inception some 30 years ago (more details are available at

Under this programme emissions estimates for the UK and its overseas territories have developed for a large number of individual air pollutants and greenhouse gases. Data covers a wide range of sources and was compiled to so as to meet the wide ranging reporting requirements under UNFCCC and UNECE protocols. Detailed outputs are created and compiled into a number of reports and submissions, fulfilling the UK’s international requirements and domestic policy support needs. Emission maps of the UK were also generated at 1km x 1km resolution to provide further spatial context and utilisation of the data for reporting and policy development.

The Ricardo emissions inventory also team contribute to international working groups set up by the United Nations, IPCC and European Commission/European Environment Agency, including authorship of guidance documents for and formal reviews of emissions inventories.

The NAEI Programme has supported the understanding of atmospheric emissions, development of international agreements, protocols and collaborative working arrangements in the areas of both greenhouse gas and air quality pollutant emissions over the past 30 years. Our team currently includes five fully qualified UN Expert Reviewers for Inventories and a number of world leading sector experts in the emissions inventories field.

The NAEI has also provided the underpinning evidence base from which policies and statutory targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants has been developed in the UK. For example it has been extensively used in the formation and to track commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the UK Climate Change Act.

Our Greenhouse Gas emission estimates provide an independent estimate of the UK’s GHG emissions for reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Likewise the air pollutant emissions estimates provide similar estimates to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. Our UK inventory was recently audited by a UNFCCC international expert review panel and received very complimentary feedback.

Ricardo has also developed a web-based portal allowing users to view, understand and interrogate spatially mapped NAEI data. This provides an intuitive approach to further analysing emissions and is an innovative approach communicating atmospheric emissions to the public.