Atmospheric science research in the Department of Chemistry, University
of Cambridge has played a leading role in demonstrating the depletion of
the ozone layer following anthropogenic emissions of halogenated compounds
and other Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). This research has been a key
input into the series of assessment reports that have made the case to
policy makers for the strengthening of the Montreal Protocol. The research
underpinning these reports has made a vital contribution to a number of
changes to the Protocol that have ensured a more rapid phase-out of a
wider range of ODS and their replacements, leading to significant global
health and climate benefits during the REF period. Researchers at
Cambridge have helped to raise global awareness of these benefits, helping
to maintain support for the Protocol among policy makers and the public,
and supported European legislation to limit the environmental impact of
ODS and their replacements.
Successful policy formulation and effective action on ozone depletion and
climate change, both of
which have profound environmental implications, depend on the availability
of credible data on
atmospheric gases. Research conducted in the School of Chemistry at the
University of Bristol
between 1992 and 2013 has played a leading role in global efforts to
achieve reliable, long-term
measurement of climatically important gases such as CO2, CH4
and N2O. When combined with
models of atmospheric gas transport, these observations provide an
independent means of
assessing natural and man-made emissions. This work is used by the UK's
Department of Energy
and Climate Change (DECC) for monitoring compliance with international and
identifying priorities for improving inventory accuracy, assessing the
UK's progress towards targets
set in the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols, evaluating the impact of policy,
and informing international
negotiations. These data have been central to recent World Meteorological
Office (WMO) Scientific
Assessments of Ozone Depletion produced between 2007 and 2010 and to the
Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment of Climate
published in 2007.
Research performed at York during 2003-6 revealed the unexpectedly high
level of organic emissions by trees in the UK during the hottest periods,
catalysing the formation of smog. This research on causes of summertime
air pollution informed UK government policy reports in 2008/9. It also
resulted in on-going changes in modelling of biogenic emissions by DEFRA
(Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs), embedding the
knowledge into all future government policy evaluations of air pollution.
The Met Office and others have now improved their air quality forecasts
provided to the public by adding the effect of natural emissions. The
beneficiaries of the York research include government and those people at
health risk from low air quality. The impact spans public policy,
environmental policy and health.
Halocarbons in the atmosphere can be both ozone-depleting and greenhouse
gases. Our halocarbon research has formed a vital part of the science that
has underpinned the Montreal Protocol on `Substances that Deplete the
Ozone Layer'. Whilst this Protocol was originally ratified in 1987, it is
amended at regular intervals based on the latest scientific evidence as
reported through quadrennial World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Ozone
Assessments. Our research has contributed to the Assessments in 1994,
1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010, as well as IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change) assessments. These assessments have led directly to
reductions in emissions of a large number of halocarbons and consequently
major climate and health benefits worldwide; e.g. UEA research on methyl
bromide and halons has led, via Montreal Protocol amendments, to a decline
in atmospheric bromine between 2008-2013.
Air pollution is a major health concern and government policy driver.
Leeds researchers and colleagues have developed a detailed chemical
mechanism which describes reactions in the lower atmosphere leading to the
formation of ozone and secondary particulate matter, key air pollutants.
The so-called `master chemical mechanism' (MCM) is considered the `gold
standard' and has been used by the UK government and industry groups to
inform their position on EU legislation and by the US EPA to validate and
extend their regulatory models. The Hong Kong Environmental Protection
Department has used the MCM to identify key ozone precursors and provide
evidence for abatement strategies.
Human activity leads to the emission of many greenhouse gases that differ
from carbon dioxide (CO2) in their ability to cause climate
change. International climate policy requires the use of an "exchange
rate" to place emissions of such gases on a "CO2-equivalent"
scale. These exchange rates are calculated using "climate emission
metrics" (hereafter "metrics") which enable the comparison of the climate
effect of the emission of a given gas with emissions of CO2.
Research in the Unit has contributed directly to (i) the calculation of
inputs required for such metrics, (ii) the compilation of listings of the
effects for a large number of gases and (iii) the consideration of
alternative metric formulations. During the assessment period this work
has been used in the implementation of the first commitment period of the
Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012) to the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC), and in decisions and discussions (which began in
2005) on the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment
period (2013-2020), as well to intergovernmental debate on aspects of the
use of metrics in climate agreements.