Drive to net zero at risk from “almost useless” myriad of data, warns UK manufacturing research group


A lack of common carbon emissions reporting standards across industry “risks completely undermining the UK’s drive to net zero”, a leading UK strategic manufacturing group has warned.

Manufacturing produces 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint yet the lack of a common accounting framework for corporates and products means the sector cannot properly track emissions. A universal methodology for measuring and reporting emissions must be developed – with government agreement on which metrics must be used – according to a new report by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC).

There is a particular problem on what are known as ‘Scope Three’ emissions – indirectly produced emissions, such as early materials extraction and processing. These account for up to 90% of emissions and are fundamental to reaching net zero.

The Embodied Emissions and Net Zero report adds that additional assistance will be needed to support SMEs understand and “demystify” carbon accounting. The report warns: “Without a proper auditing and monitoring system in place, there is no way of knowing where the UK manufacturing industry is in terms of working towards and meeting net zero targets.”

HVMC chief executive Katherine Bennett said:

“Tracking carbon emissions is now an integral part of a company’s annual audit. Yet, a myriad of different carbon accounting standards and methodologies are used, meaning that the data is rendered almost useless when combined across the manufacturing sector.

“Given the energy intensive nature of manufacturing, this lack of common data makes tracking overall emissions reductions almost impossible and vital information can be obscured or lost. This risks completely undermining the UK’s drive to net zero. We would be delighted to work with relevant government departments, such as BEIS, to address this shortfall and jointly develop these universal standards.”