Emissions accounting can be broadly defined as the systematic identification and estimation of emissions arising within a defined boundary (geographical or organisational). Systematic and comprehensive emissions accounting is necessary to both identify emissions hotspots and to monitor and evaluate measures to reduce emissions.
The predominant focus of research in this area at Tyndall Manchester is greenhouse gas emissions accounting.
Our work considers how emissions can be apportioned or allocated to different actors to support policy development and monitoring.
There are numerous accounting procedures available depending on the boundary in question, at the national level Governments report greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions following guidance from UN bodies, while Defra provides guidance on how organisations should report their emissions under the carbon reduction commitment.
LCA is a methodology used to assess the environmental impact of a product or process from cradle-to-grave. The principles and framework of LCA are described in ISO 14040:2006. The four sections of an LCA study are: goal and scope of definition, inventory analysis, impact assessment and interpretation.
The goal states the reasoning for the study and what exactly will be assessed and the scope defines the boundaries of the study or system. The inventory analysis is very much similar to emissions accounting, whereby the emissions are quantified over the life-cycle of the system. The impact assessment evaluates the prospective environmental impact of the material flows in the inventory according to set categories identified prior to the assessment.
Application of LCA
Tyndall Manchester has used LCA techniques to assess the environmental impacts of a wide range of bioenergy systems compared to the fossil fuel or conventional alternatives. The impact categories are typically chosen to inform policy makers of the wider sustainability issues associated with a particular technology in addition to the carbon savings and have included global warming potential, eutrophication potential, acidification potential and human toxicity.
Environmentally extended input-output analysis is a useful tool in sustainable consumption and production analysis. It provides an overview of which economic sectors are directly responsible for key national environmental pressures (e.g. GHG emissions), but also understands the lifestyles and consumption activities indirectly driving production and its consequent impacts.
The use of multi-region (or global) models can trace emission flows associated with trade, and assess trade-related issue such as carbon leakage.