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Supporting the Climate Change Committee

08 December, 2020

Supporting the Climate Change Committee

John Barrett

Clare Downing

Aimee K Eeles

Case study  

John Barrett, Clare Downing and Aimee Eeles

The UK has a global impact in that the consumption of goods and services creates a global supply chain with its associated global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Through a range of policy levers, the UK has the opportunity to both reduce emissions that occur within the territory of the UK, as well as reduce the emissions associated with imports.

This case study covers the significant impact the CREDS Materials & Products theme has had in relation to calculating the UK’s consumption based GHG emissions and formulating a policy response to address them. Over many years, the research team at the University of Leeds, led by Professor John Barrett, have both supported a number of Government departments and the Climate Change Committee in relation to consumption based GHG emissions. This case study focuses on the support provided to the CCC.

We have now made significant contributions to the past five major reports by the CCC that report progress to Government. This has involved giving the CCC access to our global MRIO model that tracks the GHG emissions associated with global supply chains. We have directly contributed to reports on multiple areas including measuring the UK’s consumption impacts and the resource efficiency.

We organised a secondment for Alice Garvey to support the CCC in their analysis of industrial energy policy options for the Sixth Carbon Budget report. We provided an updated analysis of resource efficiency strategies for UK industry. We also provided information specific to Scotland to allow us to undertake a similar analysis for the Scottish Government.

Without the development of the Leeds’ MRIO model, consumption-based emissions would simply not have featured in CCC reports. June 2020 (Acknowledged contribution from John Barrett and Diana Ivanova).

Our analysis of resource efficiency has provided key insights into an under-explored area of Government policy. The concept indicates that the total amount of resources (raw materials and process emissions) influences the scale of emissions and by changing the materials and process used, we can radically alter the emissions but maintain the same function. The research from Leeds allowed the CCC to report to UK Government that resource efficiency was equally, if not more important, than the previous focus on energy efficiency. Net zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming – May 2019 (Acknowledged contribution from John Barrett and Anne Owen).

Future plans

We will continue to support the CCC in these areas and will be working closely with them in relation to energy demand reduction leading on from our upcoming research that is developing a low energy demand scenario for the UK. Now that the CCC has published their 6th Carbon Budget report, we are supporting BEIS in providing an adequate policy response to the CCC’s recommendations. We are working closely with senior analysts responsible to defining BEIS’ position in relation to carbon budgets and also with the Deputy Director of Industrial Energy.

Sources of information


Prof Barrett and his teams’ work has directly informed many of the CCC’s reports over recent years. The model that the University of Leeds developed to calculate the UK’s consumption-based emissions has helped the CCC to track aspects of the UK’s impact on the global climate that fall outside of the boundaries of the UK Climate Change Act. The development of this model and the regular engagement and access to it provided by Professor Barrett’s team have been essential for consumption emissions to feature within the CCC’s annual progress reports, including the 2020, 2019 and 2018 Progress Reports of Parliament and the 2020 Scotland Progress Report. This research will also be used in the CCC’s advice on the sixth carbon budget to provide a high-level projection for future trajectories of consumption emissions. Richard Millar, Senior Analyst, CCC

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) is an independent non-departmental public body, formed under the Climate Change Act to advise the United Kingdom and devolved Governments and Parliaments on tackling and preparing for climate change.

Publication details

Barrett, J., Downing, C. and Eeles, A.K. 2020. Supporting the Climate Change Committee. Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions. Oxford, UK. CREDS case study.

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