University of Edinburgh: UN collaboration aims for greener value chains

A new partnership with the United Nations has been launched that will develop a system for businesses to measure – and reduce – the greenhouse gas emissions in every part of their operations.

The framework will calculate how much a series of interventions would cut harmful emissions, making it possible to assess the most cost efficient way to make the biggest dent in greenhouse gas production.

The team from the University of Edinburgh and UN Climate Change say the framework is necessary to translate the Paris Agreement’s net-zero pledges into tangible outcomes.

​​​​​​​The systemic change necessary to comply with the Paris Agreement’s temperature target requires genuinely new technologies, innovative policies, and better targeted financing. These techniques are available, but often are not recognized for the value they can add because the emission reductions of these measures are often indirect.

Navraj Singh Ghaleigh
Project Team Leader and Senior Lecturer in Climate Law
The partnership – which involves experts from the University’s Law School, Business School and the EPCC – will seek to identify the processes that indirectly lead to the most significant emission reductions.

It will develop and digitise a methodological framework to measure and attribute the climate contribution of every step in a business’ value chain, from the conception of a product to its distribution, have on the climate crisis. In this way, emission reduction actions can be better prioritised.

The depth and scale of change envisaged by the Paris Agreement requires a broad range of disruptive climate solutions to be developed by solution providers such as financiers, cleantech start-ups, customers and even individual citizens. For this to work, there is an urgent need for a reliable system to measure and attribute credit for greenhouse gas emissions reductions to actors and actions within value chains. The project will focus on this to incentivise innovation, enable recognition, address climate efficient production and consumption, and boost the uptake of renewables.

Massamba Thioye
Manager of UN Climate Change’s Mitigation Division
Specifically, the project will determine the greenhouse gas emission reductions that technology, finance, innovation, culture change and other levers for climate action can achieve.

It will also forecast the emission reduction potential for components of existing and new value chains, such as product manufacture, service delivery or societal interactions.

At the University the project team brings together Navraj Singh Ghaleigh and Justin Macinante from Edinburgh Law School, Ashley Lloyd from the Business School, Adrian Jackson from EPCC and Markus Hüwener, an international advisor and carbon market expert.

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