Towards Net Zero Carbon

Towards Net Zero Carbon

Start date
17 December, 2018

The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report addresses the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, bringing together the latest advances in climate science. According to the report global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.

British Antarctic Survey works to understand, tackle and mitigate the effects of climate change, and embed evidence in decision making and climate policy. Our scientific research programmes and Net Zero Carbon Strategy underpin the UK’s commitment to:

  • achieving a net zero carbon economy by 2050
  • respond to the challenges of climate change
  • live more sustainably

BAS Net Zero Carbon Strategy 2020 – 2040​

Our strategy is driven by our scientific research findings and is aligned to the UKRI-NERC Environmental Sustainability Strategy. We focus on five areas of activity that will help us meet our strategic goals:

  • Net Zero Carbon Science for the Future
  • Infrastructure
  • Transport & Logistics
  • Supply Chain
  • Community

Three working groups co-ordinate key areas and report progress to the BAS Executive Team:

  • Net Zero Carbon Science for the Future​​
  • Decarbonisation Management​
  • Communication and Awareness​

The Challenge

We carry out vital scientific research on the impact of climate change in Antarctica and beyond. By replacing old inefficient infrastructure with sustainable technologies, our ambition is to reduce carbon emissions in our Antarctic stations and Cambridge office to net zero by 2040.

Given the challenges in reducing emissions from ships and aircraft, we need to work smarter. We work with these sectors to help all of us move towards net zero as quickly as possible, and have a history of innovation that we can draw on to succeed.

Our Net Zero Carbon Targets

  • Maximise our renewable energy capacity in the UK and Antarctica.
  • Degasify our heating and hot water systems in the UK by 2030.
  • Reduce carbon emissions from the Antarctic Stations and the BAS Cambridge office to net zero carbon by 2030
  • Reach net zero carbon emissions across our entire operations by 2040.

Our Net Zero Carbon strategy ambitions are to:

  • achieve net zero carbon by 2040 from our direct operations, including our measurable scope 3 emissions* aligned with the UKRI Environmental Sustainability Strategy​,
  • meet the interim targets approved by UKRI-NERC (40% Greenhouse Gas [GHG] emissions reduction by 2025, 70% GHG emissions reduction by 2035),
  • contribute to the global efforts of adapting and mitigating against climate change,
  • and ensure all of us within BAS work together as a team with a common sense of purpose, values and direction.

*Read the definitions of net zero and associated sustainability terms.

Our Net Zero Carbon Strategy aims are to:

  • Deliver world-leading science with effective carbon management at its core.
  • Operate net zero Antarctic stations and Cambridge HQ by 2040.
  • Develop a high impact decarbonisation plan for transport & main access to Antarctica.
  • Identify the whole supply chain contribution to BAS carbon footprint.
  • Create external and internal engagement campaigns to drive forward the ambitions of the net zero strategy.

Our Journey to Net Zero

We will take the following strategic approach across the five priority areas and work in collaboration with the wider science community to decarbonise our direct operations over the next 20 years.

Net zero strategy structure infographic

Net Zero Carbon Science for the Future

  • Delivering all science projects with net zero carbon emissions in line with NERC/UKRI​ targets, using methods to calculate carbon involved in all science projects.
  • Working with the wider science community to adopt strategies for decarbonisation within the UK and beyond​.
  • Developing and reviewing climate policy ​using research from our scientists.
  • Evaluating Earth system’s change using our observations systems and practices.


  • Achieving net zero carbon emissions for all research stations and infrastructure.
  • Growing relationships with industry and academia to tackle challenges of reducing carbon in construction.
  • Opening a new net zero carbon research station in East Antarctica.
  • Using low-carbon and low-energy materials in all buildings and infrastructure.

Transport & Logistics

  • Introducing electric vehicles (e.g. snowmobiles) to Antarctic stations, moving away from fossil fuel vehicles.
  • Utilising new technology and automation, such as gliders and robotics, to reduce the need for Antarctic travel.
  • Planning efficiently for Antarctic travel to work smarter to reduce carbon emissions, without limiting scientific research.
  • Unavoidable carbon emissions are removed from the atmosphere, achieving equilibrium and net zero carbon emissions.

Supply Chain

  • Encouraging businesses we work with to use international stands, such as Fairtrade and Marine Stewardship Council.
  • Including carbon in all procurement for the supply chain, including sustainability criteria and carbon reduction in tender exercises.
  • Tracking indirect emissions through our suppliers and monitoring their carbon emissions.


  • Promoting successes and challenges of reaching net zero to the science community, business, and corporate partners and the wider public.
  • Empowering staff across BAS to understand the challenge and change behaviours to reach net zero carbon targets.
  • Building relationships with industry to share best practise on tackling climate change.
  • Aligning UK Government, UKRI-NERC targets with BAS communications activity.

In addition to the above members of the Net Zero Carbon Strategy Group, there are three subgroups for different working areas. Each group is chaired from within the Net Zero Strategy Group.

Net Zero Carbon Science for the Future

Anna Jones – Chair

Decarbonisation Management Group

Parthena Nopi Exizidou (Chair)

Communication and Awareness Group

Julie Jupe (Co-chair)

Pilvi Muschitiello (Maternity cover: Co-Chair)

Livia Oldland (Maternity leave: Co-chair)

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RRS Sir David Attenborough

The RRS Sir David Attenborough, commissioned by NERC, built by Cammell Laird for operation by British Antarctic Survey, is one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world.

Rothera Research Station

The largest British Antarctic facility is a centre for biological research and a hub for supporting deep-field science.