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

Principal Consultant

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Testimonial

Don't just take our word for it...

“The Aether team were a joy to work with and I would recommend the consultancy - the service provided throughout the process was exceptional.”

Clare Bayley, Defra

“Engaging Aether to support us to develop the first GHG Inventory System and first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for the United Republic of Tanzania has been a rewarding experience due to their high level of professionalism, creativity, timeliness and value for money. We will definitely consider Aether in our future initiatives.”

Abbas Kitogo, Programme Specialist Energy and Climate Change, UNDP Tanzania

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

Alan Hardy, Kyson Design

“The support provided by Aether for this project was especially remarkable considering the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tools and methods used in order to engage local stakeholders really added value to the capacity building of the national team.”

Shanna Emmanuel, Saint Lucia BUR Project Coordinator

“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

“The Aether team were a joy to work with and I would recommend the consultancy - the service provided throughout the process was exceptional. Where there were problems, they provided solutions. The team were working to very short time scales but were able to deliver a high quality piece of work within the specified time frame.”

Sefton Council - for the Merseyside Atmospheric Emissions Inventory

“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

“We have been collaborating with Aether for several years, and our projects have greatly benefited from it. Aether staff are very knowledgeable, professional and flexible - and last but not least, very friendly and a pleasure to work with.”

Umhverfisstofnun, Environment Agency of Iceland

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

Matthew Dudley, UNFCCC Secretariat

“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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