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A data strategy to promote the clean growth of UK industries

Jonathan Norman, John Barrett, Alice Garvey, Peter Taylor, Justin Goodwin, Mark Gibbs, Richard German and Lucy Garland

The role of data in accelerating positive change for industry and the environment

Climate change is increasingly being treated as a crisis in both policy and public life, and the UK has signalled its commitment to radical greenhouse gas reductions in recent legislation for a net zero 2050 target. This scale and pace of change requires significant industrial decarbonisation across all sectors. Good quality data will support action to implement this transformation and inform credible decision-making.

In this report, we review whether the existing publicly available data can meet these new challenges. We found that data are not currently good enough for the demands of providing robust and timely analysis while monitoring progress over time. There are serious concerns related to:

  • inaccessibility and proprietary ownership limiting the availability of data to users;
  • poor transparency in dataset methods, underlying sources and assumptions;
  • inconsistency, incompleteness, and incomparability in the use of classifications and taxonomies, units and formats;
  • lack of continuity with irregular updates to datasets; and
  • poor detail, particularly technological detail, in existing datasets, limiting the quality and scope of representing industrial sub-sectors.

We conclude that there is an urgent need for a public data strategy which gathers linked data on emissions, technologies, and related environmental, social and economic impacts. We identify that high-quality data and indicators for the monitoring and management of industrial energy should respond to the needs, both present and future, of stakeholders. We further conclude that this ideal dataset(s) should be readily updatable, open access, and independently managed, whilst ensuring consistency in concept, terminology, and classifications. We also suggest that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) would be well placed to help establish a central public body that works with key agencies (for example the Office for National Statistics and Committee on Climate Change) with the aim of delivering an improved evidence base on industrial energy, emissions and technologies.

Publication details

Norman, J., Barrett, J., Garvey, A., Taylor, P., Goodwin, J., Gibbs, M., German, R. and Garland, L. 2020. A data strategy to promote the clean growth of UK industries: The role of data in accelerating positive change for industry and the environment. Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions, Oxford. ISBN: 978-1-913299-02-6

Banner photo credit: Alireza Attari on Unsplash

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