The workshop discussion was framed as follows:
The ability to accurately measure, report and verify greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—from point and non-point sources, on the ground, in regions, and globally—is vital to future reduction and verification strategies for GHGs.
Without accurate measurement of a nation’s, state’s, or covered entity’s emissions, it will not be possible to determine if the necessary reductions are being made. Yet, different countries use different reporting systems. In addition, some industrial sectors have extensive experience reporting GHG emissions, others very little. Furthermore, there is strong evidence on global and regional scales that the differences between reported "bottom-up" emissions and "top-down" emissions for a wide range of GHGs—as determined from measurements in the atmosphere—are too large to meet the goals of climate legislation and carbon-equivalent emissions trading.
Accurate—not just precise— "bottom-up" emissions quantification is critical to effective climate policy. Confidence in the accuracy and comparability of emissions and reduction reporting is critical for the viability of carbon markets and the development of offsets projects. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, Title XVI, Sec. 1610 (H), also includes a mandate for the Department of Energy to collaborate with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop standards and best practices for calculating, monitoring, and analyzing GHG intensity.
The purpose of this workshop is to better understand the constraints and uncertainties in current "bottom-up" emissions quantification methods, and then to define a path that will reduce these uncertainties. It is one of a series sponsored by NIST to identify the key technology and measurement areas related to issues of national and global importance. Emissions of primary interest will be those defined by regulation and legislation: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, and fluorinated gases.
Key Questions for Consideration
- What kind of accuracy do we need, when do we need to achieve it, and why (in the context of pending regulation and efforts to mitigate climate impacts)?
- How should different segments and sectors be treated?
- How do we effectively allocate the carbon footprint? Who is responsible for improvements in efficiency? How do emissions count toward inventories?
- How do we avoid double-counting (e.g., power sales and purchases)?
- How do we define additionality (e.g., when is it additional, where does it fit – emissions, financial, regulatory)?
- What are the key challenges and gaps in measurement and monitoring?
- How do we effectively integrate information across segments and sectors?
- What levels of uncertainty are needed to support carbon markets?
- What are the priority MRV issues that we urgently need to address?
The insights gained at the workshop will form the basis for a consensus document outlining the most pressing challenges and key recommendations for GHG emissions quantification and verification strategies for the future. This important document will help to:
- Inform and influence policy and planning, now and in the future;
- Provide strategic guidance for public and private decision-makers;
- Support a foundation for future GHG emissions programs;
- Provide key actionable recommendations.
Breakout Topics and Chairs
Power Plants Karen Obenshain, Edison Electric Institute
Point source emissions from power plants, including CO2, nitrous oxide, SF6, and methane; includes emissions from combustion of fuels and gaseous leaks.
Industrial Generation Ed Rightor, The Dow Chemical Company
Point and non-point source emissions (including aggregated point sources) from industrial sources, including CO2, nitrous oxide, methane, halons, SF6, and other gases with high global warming potential; includes emissions from combustion of fuel as well as processing emissions and gaseous leaks.
Distributed/Localized Sources and Sinks (including Offsets) Kenneth Davis, The Pennsylvania State University
Emissions from localized sources such as farming, landfills, coal mine methane, oil and gas extraction, and others; includes distributed but connected sources (e.g., freight depots); includes integrally connected human-managed sinks such as farms, forests, grasslands, and others.
Global Monitoring: Regional and International Emissions: Ralph Keeling, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Measurement and monitoring of atmospheric emissions, both at regional and international level; includes satellite based optical measurements, remote and atmospheric monitoring.
Integrating measurements across disparate segments, methodologies, and length scales; measuring whether a country is meeting or has met compliance and/or reduction targets; and establishing consistent nomenclature (e.g. verification, control, certification, etc).