Articles 5 mins read

Accreditation: Supporting net zero policies

One of the main goals of COP26 is to agree a pathway forward for achieving global net zero emissions by mid-century.  At COP26 countries will be asked to put forward their 2030 emissions reductions targets that will help to reach this goal.  Regardless of which policies and/or schemes are announced by the government and industry in the coming months, accreditation will be a key enabler of the robustness, effectiveness and real-world impact of those policies and schemes.

From the monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions and certification of microgeneration schemes to the testing and inspection of solar, wind, wave and nuclear power generators, UKAS accreditation has an established track record in supporting both government policy and market-led initiatives that manage, reduce and offset emissions.  Its inherent flexibility and reliability reduce the dependence on both prescriptive regulation and enforcement by public authorities, and can help demonstrate the proper use of public funding, while generating crucial market and public confidence.

Despite their differing individual criteria, all policies and schemes in this area are reliant on one or more of accurate measurements, competent inspection, reliable testing and verifiable claims.  Accreditation provides an independent and robust evaluation of bodies that test, measure, inspect, verify and certify products, systems, claims and personnel that are fundamental to the success of these individual schemes.  It also plays a significant role in supporting government policy and industry-led initiatives that together can help reach ambitious net zero and sustainable development goals.

Monitoring emissions

Emissions Trading Schemes (ETS) have proved to be one of the most effective tools for measuring, monitoring, reporting and ultimately reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Under the UK ETS (which has replaced the EU ETS in the UK, following Brexit), all submitted emissions reports must be verified by an organisation that is accredited to ISO/IEC 14065.

Similar requirements apply to the measurement of CO2 emissions from maritime transport, whilst aviation emissions can be verified under CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reporting Scheme for International Aviation).  Other UKAS accredited carbon measurement verification schemes include PAS 2050 for “carbon footprinting” and the Woodland Carbon Code forestry carbon sequestration scheme.

By being accredited to ISO 14065, organisations have demonstrated that they can carry out validation and verification of emissions monitoring activities competently, consistently and impartially.  This generates confidence amongst government, industry and end users in the accuracy of emissions data and ultimately the effectiveness of both market-led schemes and net zero policy.

Carbon offsetting

UKAS is currently running a pilot project for demonstrating carbon neutrality under PAS 2060.  Under this scheme, where GHG emissions cannot be reduced from a process they must be offset by absorbing a similar amount from the atmosphere, through for example reforestation schemes or carbon capture systems.  As with the emissions monitoring schemes outlined above, accredited verification to PAS 2060 will provide a recognised method of substantiating the accuracy and extent of environmental claims.  In addition to helping government reach net zero targets, PAS 2060 will support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and has the potential to improve business efficiency and enhance an organisation’s ‘green’ credentials in the eyes of its customers.

Microgeneration

Before the introduction of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) in 2006, government and industry initiatives in this burgeoning area were based entirely on self-certification.  This lack of independent appraisal meant it was difficult for government, industry and end users to have confidence in either the quality of microgeneration products or the competence of their installers.

The MCS is an independent UKAS accredited quality assurance scheme that provides market confidence in microgeneration products and installations without the need for direct government intervention.  Under the MCS, products and installers must be MCS certified by a UKAS accredited certification body in order to be eligible for UK government financial incentives, such as feed-in tariffs and the renewable heat incentive.  In turn, certification bodies must demonstrate their own competence, impartiality and integrity to UKAS in order to be accredited under ISO/IEC 17065: 2012.  By “checking the checkers”, accreditation of the MCS provides assurance to end users that renewable energy products are fit for purpose and that installers are competent to install them.

Renewable energy

Making better use of renewable resources is going to be crucial in reducing overall emissions and reaching net zero targets.  In addition to accrediting microgeneration certification schemes, UKAS accredits testing and inspection bodies that examine solar, wind and wave energy installations.

UKAS accredited since 2005, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is the world’s first and only centre of its kind to offer open-sea testing of wave and tidal energy conversion systems at its purpose-built facilities.  In addition to providing independently verified performance assessments through its accredited laboratory (ISO 17025), EMEC also offers independent accredited inspection and verification of environmental products and systems (ISO 17020).

Similarly, Global Wind Service has become the UK’s first Type C inspection body to receive accreditation for the statutory inspection of all types of windfarms.

Together, the independent verification and testing of renewable energy systems help them to fulfil their true potential, whilst simultaneously enabling innovative and potentially more effective technologies to reach the market.  These services are underpinned by accreditation, giving assurance to potential users and increasing market, consumer and regulatory confidence.

You can find more information on how UKAS accreditation is supporting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals here. To find out how accredited conformity assessment can underpin your scheme leading to net zero contact UKAS on [email protected].