Category: International organisations, Policies and measures

Developing a comprehensive approach to nitrogen in the UK

Aether, alongside project partners the Stockholm Environment Institute, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and Plantlife International, undertook a study for WWF of the nitrogen cycles and pathways in the UK and reviewed existing strategies and policies that could affect the balance of nitrogen in the environment.

The challenge

Whilst nitrogen is essential for life, excessive amounts of so called “reactive” nitrogen compounds (including nitrogen oxides, ammonia and nitrates) in the environment are harmful. These compounds can affect ecology, climate change, and air quality. The industrialisation of the UK’s food system, alongside the contribution of nitrogen emissions from other industry, transport, and wastewater treatment, have led to a large increase in emissions of reactive nitrogen. The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) wanted to understand the impact of the UK’s current reactive nitrogen emissions, identify potential interventions, and set out priorities for policy as a response.

 
The solution

Aether, alongside project partners, contributed to a comprehensive review of the nitrogen cycle in the UK. We used our technical insight across sectors to highlight the primary sources of disruptive reactive nitrogen and potential interventions that would reduce their impact whilst helping to meet the “triple challenge” of food security, climate mitigation and reversing biodiversity loss. For this, we undertook a detailed literature review, combining our technical knowledge of emissions inventories and processes, before researching mechanisms and existing policy actions on a local, national, and international scale.

 
The result

The technical report was published by the WWF in 2022 and has been used as evidence within the WWF’s ‘Land of Plenty’ campaign, which calls on the UK’s central and devolved governments to consider the findings of our report and set out their own decarbonisation strategies for agriculture and land use.

The full technical report can be found here. 

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Richard German

Senior Consultant

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Testimonial

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“Chris was excellent to work with and always very pro active in making suggestions, taking work forward and applying his considerable technical knowledge in effective ways.”

Robert Vaughan, Defra Air Quality Team

“A heartfelt thank you to all the Aether team for this very comprehensive review – this is certainly turning out to be one of the most beneficial capacity building projects I have ever been involved in.”

Saviour Vassallo, Senior Environment Protection Officer, Malta Resources Authority

“Saint Lucia embraces the professional approach with which this project was undertaken by Aether, particularly their ability to develop mentorship relations with local government experts. This provides a basis for ensuring that the pool of local experts remain engaged and recognized over successive processes.”

Annette Rattigan-Leo, Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer

“It has been a pleasure to work with Chris Dore and Richard Claxton from Aether: they did their job in a very professional and timely manner. The workshop was organized and carried out in a cooperative spirit; the information provided to the workshop participants was complete and clear.”

Alina Novikova, UN/ECE Secretariat

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Javier Cano Martín, Professional Unit for Climate Change and Environmental Services, CONAF (National Forestry Corporation), Chile

“Professional team and very collaborative communication. Effective result in terms of suggestions for improvement in the quality of the inventory and proposals on how to streamline specific topics.”

Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research

“The professional service provided by your company was of very high quality and completed within agreed timelines.”

Matthew Dudley, UNFCCC Secretariat

“Aether's approach to couple innovative visualisation with high expertise manpower delivered valuable insights for our inventory work.”

Umweltbundesamt (Germany)

“If we have a need for any more reports in the future Aether will be first on my list.”

Alan Hardy, Kyson Design

“Aether delivered training workshops and generated learning materials for our SSN members, providing technical content in a manageable and comprehendible format. We particularly benefitted from their extensive knowledge and ability to interpret the needs of our members into the training materials.”

Jennifer Anderson, Sustainable Scotland Network

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