Government regulation of existing and emerging industry is a critical component of environmental protection. We are proud that governments around the world rely on our work to guide their laws and regulations.
Our internationally renowned research on carbon capture and storage (CCS) and negative emissions has underpinned the development of crucial technologies needed to deliver economy-wide decarbonisation for the UK and global industry.
We are among the world-leading researchers who have made crucial contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports. These are the most comprehensive scientific reports about climate change produced worldwide.
You can find out key information by clicking on each heading below:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for assessing climate change.
Every five to seven years, the IPCC produces Assessment Reports. These are the most comprehensive scientific reports about climate change produced worldwide. Between the Assessment Reports, the IPCC also publishes Special Reports which focus on a specific issue.
The IPCC is now producing the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) with contributions by its three Working Groups. The first instalment of the report by Working Group I (WGI) – the Physical Science Basis was released in August 2021.
Our contributions to the reports
Our research has made significant contributions to the IPCC Assessment Reports and the Special Reports, guiding policies around the world.
Special Report: 'Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees C'
Following the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change requested advice from the IPCC to limit climate warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The IPCC aimed to assess the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways.
The resulting 2018 landmark IPCC Special Report 'Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees C', was arguably one of the most important and influential reports in the IPCC's history.
For example, in 2019, via assessment by the UK Committee on Climate Change, the UK Parliament moved to strengthen its climate target by passing legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK's net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050.
The report's findings underpin the subsequent strengthening of the UN Paris Agreement climate change targets worldwide, with many major economies (together around 70% of the world's economy) now following the UK in setting net-zero emissions targets in 2019.
We made significant contributions to the IPCC, with our research cited throughout the report.
In addition, IPCC exclusively selected Dr Vivian Scott as an Expert Reviewers due to their world-leading expertise.
Find out more:
|Starkest warning yet - what our research and latest IPCC (AR6) report reveals||What are we doing about climate change? Our impact on IPCC||IPCC Special Report 'Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate'|
You can also read related stories on the University Impact website:
For decades removing harmful carbon from the atmosphere and storing it safely under the sea was a mere pipe dream. Edinburgh researchers are helping make it a reality.
The Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) report
Professor Stuart Haszeldine is one of two academics invited onto the Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) council, advising the UK Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Energy Minister. He was the sole academic member of the UK Parliamentary Advisory Group on CCS and co-author of its report to the Secretary of State for BEIS in 2016.
The 2016 report to BEIS was used to inform key recommendations on the UK Government's strategic investment into CCS infrastructure. Specifically, this involves separating investment in CO2 capture and CO2 transportation and storage. It also involved setting up clusters of actors sharing infrastructure with the common goal of decarbonising industry, producing low-carbon hydrogen and enabling negative emissions as a key part of the lowest cost route to achieving the UK's decarbonisation targets. These features are the basis of all current UK CCS developments and many others worldwide.
Successive civil servants and UK Energy Ministers adopted the recommendations of the 2016 report to BEIS. This culminated in the major commitment to invest in a new CCS Infrastructure Fund of at least £800 million in the March 2020 UK budget. The budget is to develop CCS clusters and to support the construction of a CCS gas power plant. In November 2020, UK CCS funding was increased to GBP 1,000,000,000 in the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
Carbon capture and storage is precisely the kind of exciting technology where Britain can lead the world over the next decade. I can announce today that we will invest at least £800 million to establish two or more new carbon capture and storage clusters by 2030…The new clusters will create up to 6,000 high-skill, high-wage, low-carbon jobs in areas like Teesside, Humberside, Merseyside or St Fergus in Scotland.
UK Central and devolved government climate change legislation
Our research expertise in negative emissions made key inputs into the UK's world-leading net-zero by 2050 climate change legislation in 2019.
Dr Vivian Scott was seconded to the UK Committee on Climate Change to provide expert advice on net-zero to the UK and devolved governments. He led the assessment of negative emissions potential for the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) 2019, which provided formal advice on net-zero emissions to the UK, Scotland and Wales Governments.
Informed by our work on negative emissions, the CCC's net-zero advice was subsequently adopted by the UK and Scottish governments in passing legislation in 2019. They updated their Climate Change Act targets to net-zero by 2050 and net-zero by 2045, respectively.
The UK Budget 2020 states "the transition to a net-zero economy by 2050 will require radical changes in every sector" and presents a range of measures to advance net-zero action. This included "at least double the size of the energy innovation programme" and "an additional £10 million in 2020-21 to support the design and delivery of net-zero policies and programmes".
Furthermore, Dr Scott's work helped identify the importance of Direct Air Capture (DAC) technologies - machines that scrub CO2 from the air - as a permanent and potentially rapidly scalable greenhouse gas removal approach. This led to the inclusion of a strategic cost discovery scale of DAC deployment in the CCC UK net-zero emissions pathway.
From this, the UK government announced in June 2020 up to £100 million of funding for DAC research and development. In December 2020, the Scottish Government announced a further GBP180,000,000 of funding for hydrogen, CCS and negative emissions technologies.
Our researchers have played a major role in supporting the strategic case for CCS development and deployment in Scotland.
Our work on establishing the huge potential of the North Sea's CO2 storage resource and the opportunities for the repurposing of oil and gas pipeline infrastructures (and industry skills) to enable lower-cost deployment has informed Scottish policymakers in embracing CCS as a crucial component of Scotland's climate and energy strategy.
In November 2019, our researchers and the Scottish Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage helped establish the North East Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (NECCUS) alliance. The alliance is comprised of 33 companies, government agencies and research institutions. NECCUS will act as the delivery vehicle for CCS in UK industry, funded by GBP300,000 from the Scottish Government. In April 2019, NECCUS was awarded GBP100,000 to prepare bids to the UK Government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
You can find out more about the NECCUS alliance on the website.
Dr Scott and Professor Haszeldine have worked extensively with policymakers in the EU Commission and the intergovernmental North Sea Basin Task Force. Their work has made crucial and valuable contributions in shaping EU CCS policy and securing EU funding for CCS planning and development around the North Sea region by applying their research on North Sea CO2 storage and CCS projects and infrastructure development.
This resulted in projects in the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Norway being selected as EU Projects of Common Interest eligible for EU Connecting Europe Facility Infrastructure Funding. It has resulted in funds awarded in 2020 of EUR102,000,000 towards CO2 infrastructure construction in the Netherlands, plus funding between EUR5 million and EUR 15 million for engineering design of CO2 infrastructures and shipping facilities linking Belgium, Netherlands, UK and Norway.
Our work on climate modelling, geological extraction and permanent storage of carbon, methods of CO2 capture and separation, pipeline engineering, as well as on the public’s perception of CCS and viable business models, is contributing to inform policy and incentivise the deployment of CCS