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The Earth’s climate has been evolving since the beginning of time but the manifestations of future catastrophes can now be seen. From frequent earthquakes, drying up of rivers and lakes to the disastrous situation in Kerala, the damage is perceivable. The situation has been demanding remedial measures especially since human activity is a cause. Keeping this in mind countries from all over the world united, to look for and implement solutions. With this came the concept of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventories.
A National Greenhouse Gas Inventory is “an estimate of all emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHG) from given sources or sinks from a defined region in a specific period of time.”
Rephrasing an old saying, “measurement is required for management” is the idea of GHG Inventories. Devised during the adoption of UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, these inventories act as raw materials to a full fledged process. Greenhouse Gas Inventories estimate all emissions and removals of greenhouse gases of five sectors (Energy, Industrial Processing and Product Use, Agriculture, Land Use Land Use Change in Forestry and Waste), acting as a link between pollution and its sources. To report GHG emissions , The intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been updating and developing guidelines since the year 1996. Tier approaches (I, II and III) with different emission factors and levels of activity data are used for the calculation of seven GHGs (mainly CO2, CH4 and N2O). If a country has resources to develop its own emission factor for a certain component of a gas, then it is used as country specific emission factor. To ensure less uncertainty in the emission calculations, higher tiers with different equations are used.
National GHG Inventory Systems
Developed and developing countries have different reporting requirements. Now, Annex-I (developed countries) submit their GHG Inventories as separate reports every year while Non Annex-I (developing countries) compile them within their National Communications (every 3 years) and Biennial Reports (every 2 years). One of the outcomes in the Low-Emission Capacity Building (LECB) Program advises countries to set up strong GHG inventory systems at their national level. Through the LECB program, a GHG inventory is also able to support the basis for the Measuring, Reporting & Verification (MRV) systems which is a requirement of the Paris Agreement. A National GHG Inventory Management System includes the description of the procedures for reporting GHG inventories. Robust systems also contain quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) measures with structured institutional mechanisms for ensuring periodic reporting of data and transparency.
Many countries have made the effort of devising GHG inventories, but only a few have managed to set up successful GHG Inventory Systems. India is one of those few countries that has yet to establish an inventory system but efforts are being made for it with the proposal for it already in place. Some best practices by developed countries like Republic of South Korea, Japan and developing countries like Ghana, can be followed by India.
Republic of South Korea is one of the countries that has gradually progressed to being called a developed nation. It has a transparent, easy tracking and well structured institutional mechanism. The public has been sensitized about the concept of inventories and can file an RTI if any discrepancy is found. The country has also started its own training programs which other countries are encouraged to attend.
Despite being a country still in transition, the Republic of Ghana has gradually designed a structured institutional set up and also has developed 6 well defined data archiving portals- one climate change hub and the rest for different sectors. They have also set aside a manual, The National GHG Inventory Manual of Procedures for new recruits to be familiarized with the procedures.
All in all, Greenhouse Gas Inventories not only act as links but are imperative instruments for understanding growth trends, improving developing policies/programs to address climate change and identifying activities which create an imbalance for future resource management. They are extremely beneficial for sensitizing the public about the sectors which release the most pollutants. More precise GHG inventories also allow decision makers to make more informative policy choices, with greater confidence. Due to this resourcefulness, they were made mandate components of National Communications and Biennial Update Reports.
What can be done by the Government of India? Defined set of responsibilities need to be assigned to constant particular institutions for each inventory year with a specific time frame. The private sector should also be brought on board with the public sector for new suggestions and more labor. Continuous evaluation of existing emission factors and development of new emission factors should also take place for advancement to higher tiers and for reducing uncertainty. India being a resourceful and adequately funded country can either begin training programs within the country or set manuals for training new members. Like Japan,
India can also establish a separate team of experts who would not be involved in the country but would review, verify and suggest improvements. The data from the institutions and evaluations should be archived and documented in case of data loss or natural calamity (eg. Japan) within a digital portal accessible to the public to ensure transparency and only authorized for tier users. Faster review and approval of the National Inventory Management System (NIMS) proposal by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change should be considered a major step. With India’s population at an alarmingly increasing rate, it can be taken as a boon rather than bane to some extent. If aware, the population scenario can turn into more public involvement leading to better trust for the Government and more success and development rate of the country!
*This blog is a part of my internship with TERI. The information was collected under the supervision of Ms. Neha Pahuja and Mr. Abhishek Kaushik.*
- Krug, T. Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories GHG Inventories: Their Importance to Monitor Progress in Climate Change Mitigation. (2015).
- Carman, R. Information Brief- Strengthening National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Systems. United Nation Development Programme India. 8 (2014).
- Ministry of Environment. MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT – National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. (2013).
- Benefor, D. Ghana Climate Ambitious Reporting Program. (2017).
- Schauss, V., Pedersen, M. & Wade-murphy, J. Guidance for setting up and enhancing national technical teams for GHG inventories in developing countries. 1–38 (2017).
I now write on Green Lens. For more blog posts, please visit there.