When will there be new IPCC GHG inventory guidelines?

January 3, 2018, by Michael Gillenwater
20170609_BilbaoMeeting

As you hopefully know, the IPCC Guidelines for National GHG Inventories are the foundational reference for all GHG measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) work. Whether it be project methods from VCS, corporate reporting using the GHG Protocol, NAMAs, etc., all modern-day GHG programs, methods, and policies have their roots in the IPCC Guidelines.

The latest incarnation, the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, is the fourth published version of guidelines (i.e., preceding it were the initial 1994 guidelines, revised 1996, and 2000/2003 good practice). As indicated by their title, this current collection was published in 2006, and was based on scientific work done before 2005. So, they are now more than a decade old.

Since 2006, ample new scientific knowledge has become available in the literature to update the guidelines, particularly with respect to new emission factors and technologies.

So, is it time to replace them, especially given the new demands for more transparent MRV under the Paris Agreement? The short answer from the IPCC is…not exactly. It is commonly agreed by practitioners, and the IPCC itself, that the 2006 IPCC Guidelines still largely reflect the latest scientific information for calculating emissions (e.g., there is still only so much carbon that can be emitted from combustion of a ton of coal). A number of staff at GHGMI have been IPCC Guidelines authors. And we can testify that, overall, the 2006 Guidelines have stood the test of time. They are good. Good enough that GHGMI has invested years of work creating the world’s only comprehensive and rigorous training curriculum on them. We also continue to actively support the translation of this IPCC guidelines curriculum into French and Spanish.

However, the reality is, that for certain categories, new scientific knowledge has become available in the literature to support updating emission factors and technologies.

With this in mind, the IPCC has been meeting over the last few months to begin new guidance development… but with a big caveat.

The 2006 Guidelines are not being replaced. Again, they have held up well. And for reasons that beg political satire, the Guidelines are not to be “revised.” But instead, in select sections, we are “refining” the 2006 Guidelines by updating, supplementing, and/or elaborating them where gaps or out-of-date science is identified. Improved guidance, along with supplementary methodologies and factors for GHG sources or sinks will also be provided where new technologies and production processes have emerged. In this bureaucratic spirit, the planned title of this new IPCC guidance report is the 2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.

You’ve got to love the literary talents of my fellow IPCC scientists.

Banter aside, the substance is encouraging. Where there is new science to update, updates will be made. Instead of a few major changes, the focus is on numerous small improvements; see the itemized summary table below. Perhaps most notable is new guidance being developed for fugitive methane emissions from petroleum and natural gas exploration, given the dramatic changes associated with fracking and other techniques. See also this recent blog post on this topic.

However, while substantively good, in practice the update may cause extra headaches for users. The “Refinement” will take the form of a separate publication, thereby requiring us to cross-reference simultaneously while doing our work, if we are to be sure we are using the most updated guidance. And, as I mentioned above, the updates, while small, are numerous. There will be a lot of back and forth required on behalf of the practitioner. These headaches have real impacts and should be thoughtfully considered by the IPCC in its communication of how to use the final “Refinement”. We have seen the challenges already with the 2006 IPCC Guidelines, which have been subject to 9 corrigenda to date. Adding a separate publication with updated emission factors and, in some cases, methods, introduces further complexity.

Now, going back to the title of the post, when will this “Refinement” become available for you to use? Our drafting work on the “Refinement” will continue through 2018. Government and expert reviews will occur in 2018 and early 2019. And final adoption and publication is planned for mid-2019.

But, this is not the end. Ultimately, it is expected that all countries will use these refined guidelines as the technical basis for GHG reporting under the Enhanced Transparency Framework of the Paris Agreement. For this to happen, the Refinement will have to be agreed upon by the Parties to the Paris Agreement through a decision of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement. This formal approval step entails the requirement for Parties to use the Refinement will not be in place until 2020 or 2021, and possibly a few years later.

You can find a complete report on all of the planned refinements here in the IPCC meeting report.

Although not necessarily exciting, I am sure you agree that this detailed technical work on guidelines is enormously important and foundational to climate change policy at all levels.


Planned “Refinements” for 2019 IPCC Guidelines report

Volume 1: General Guidance and Reporting

Chapter 1 Introduction to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines
Issue: Provide a better description on implementation of an inventory management system.

Chapter 2 Approaches to Data Collection

Issue: Add guidance for the development of country-specific emission factors, focusing on developing countries.

Issue: Add guidance for activity data collection.

Issue: Add guidance on the integration of GHG emissions reported from facilities into national GHG inventories.

Chapter 3 Uncertainties

Issue: Refine guidance on uncertainty with latest scientific knowledge and simplification of guidance by providing more default values, calculation examples and best practices.

Chapter 4 Methodological Choice and Identification of Key Categories

Issue: Add guidance on key category analysis to address disaggregation of categories, trend analysis.

Chapter 5 Time Series Consistency

Issue: Provide more practical guidance on time series consistency.

Chapter 6 Quality Assurance / Quality Control and Verification

Issue: Add guidance on the use and reporting of complex emission estimation models.

Issue: Update verification guidance, especially addressing use of atmospheric measurements.

Chapter 7 Precursors and Indirect Emissions

Issue: Elaborate clearer guidance for the calculation of indirect CO2 emissions.

Volume 2: Energy

Chapter 2 Stationary Combustion

2.3 Methodological issues

Issue: Address linkage between biomass combustion and methodologies for harvested wood products.

Chapter 4 Fugitive Emissions

4.1 Fugitive emissions from mining, processing, storage and transportation of coal

Issue: Add guidance on emissions from coal exploration and CO2 emissions (Underground coal mines, Surface coal mining)

Issue: Include new section on abandoned surface coal mines

4.2 Fugitive emissions from oil and natural gas systems

Issue: Update emission factors and provide additional guidance for unconventional oil and gas production and abandoned wells.

4.3 Fuel transformation [New]

Issue: Include new section on fuel transformation

Volume 3: Industrial Processes and Product Use

Chapter 3 Chemical Industry Emissions

3.3 Nitric acid production

Issue: Update guidance on appropriate emission factors for dual pressure technologies

3.10 Fluorochemical production

Issue: Update guidance and default emission factors for production of fluorinated compounds other than HCFC-22

3.11 Hydrogen production [New]

Issue: Develop guidance for estimating GHG emissions from hydrogen production

Chapter 4 Metal Industry Emissions

4.2 Iron & steel and metallurgical coke production

Issue: Update emission factors and methodological guidance.

4.4 Primary aluminium production

Issue: Elaborate guidance and emissions factors to incorporate “low-voltage anode effect” PFC emissions. Update of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 default factors.

Issue: Develop a new methodology for CO2 emissions from alumina production.

4.8 Rare Earth elements [New]

Issue: Develop a new guidance on GHG emissions (PFCs and CO2) from production of Rare Earth elements

Chapter 6 Electronics Industry Emissions

Issue: Update guidance and default Tier 1 and Tier 2 emission factors for Semiconductor Industry, improvement of the Tier 3 guidance and elaboration of guidance on generation of by-products from abatement technologies (CF4 from NF3)

Chapter 7 Emissions of Fluorinated Substitutes for Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS)

7.5 Refrigeration and air conditioning

Issue: Add examples and update emission factors by further segregating equipment types, regions, and time periods.

8.3 Use of SF6 and PFCs in other products

Issue: Develop guidance for PFC emissions from Textile Industry and water-proofing electronic circuit boards

Volume 4: Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use

Chapter 2 Generic Methodologies Applicable to Multiple Land-use Categories

2.3 Generic methods for CO2 emissions and removals

2.3.1 Change in biomass carbon stocks (above-ground biomass and below-ground biomass)

Issue: Develop guidance on the use of allometric equations for biomass estimation and use of biomass density (amount per unit area) maps from remote sensing for biomass estimation.

2.3.2 Change in carbon stocks in dead organic matter

Issue: Update default values for litter stocks and develop default values for deadwood stocks

2.3.3 Change in carbon stocks in soils

Issue: Update reference carbon stocks.

Issue: Develop new Tier 2 method for mineral soils that requires less activity data

Chapter 3 Consistent Representation of Lands

3.3 Representing land-use areas

Issue: Develop guidance on how remotely sensed data, ground based data, and ancillary data can be integrated and used to derive consistent time series estimates of land use and land-use change

Chapter 4 Forest Land

4.2 Forest Land Remaining Forest Land

4.2.3 Soil carbon

Issue: Provide guidance and develop new Tier 2 method for mineral soils that requires less activity data than the current default method

4.5 Tables

Issue: Update values for BEF/BCEF and root/shoot ratio, average biomass stocks, and average biomass increments

Chapter 5 Cropland

5.2 Cropland Remaining Cropland

5.2.1 Biomass

Issue: Update default biomass carbon parameters.

5.2.3 Soil carbon

Issue: Update carbon stock change factors.

Issue: Develop new Tier 2 method for mineral soils that requires less activity data than the current default method

5.5 Methane emissions from rice cultivation

Issue: Develop regionally specific default EFs

Chapter 6 Grassland

6.2 Grassland Remaining Grassland

6.2.1 Biomass

Issue: Update default biomass carbon parameters.

6.2.3 Soil carbon

Issue: Update carbon stock change factors.

Issue: Develop new Tier 2 method for mineral soils that requires less activity data than the current default method

Chapter 7 Wetlands

7.3 Flooded Land

Issue: Update CO2 emission factors for land converted to flooded land (Wetlands) and fully develop a consistent methodology for estimating CO2 and CH4 emissions from flooded lands (both land converted to flooded land and flooded land remaining flooded land).

7.X. Additional guidance on Tier 2 method for mineral soils [New]

Issue: Develop new Tier 2 method for mineral soils that requires less activity data than the current default method, taking into consideration Chapter 5 of the 2013 Wetlands Supplement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines: Wetlands.

Chapter 8 Settlements

8.2 Settlements Remaining Settlements

8.2.1 Biomass

Issue: Update default biomass carbon parameters.

8.2.3 Soil carbon

Issue: Develop new Tier 2 method for mineral soils that requires less activity data than the current default method

Chapter 9 Other Land

9.3 Land Converted to Other Land

9.3.3 Soil carbon

Issue: Develop new Tier 2 method for mineral soils that requires less activity data than the current default method

Chapter 10 Emissions from Livestock and Manure Management

10.2 Livestock population and feed characterisation

Issue: Update guidance on improved description of feeding systems

Issue: Develop consistent system descriptions for manure management between source categories (regionally/climatically stratified) for basic and enhanced characterisation for livestock populations

10.3 Methane emissions from enteric fermentation

Issue: Improve parameters based on different feeding strategies for cattle and sheep.

10.4 Methane emissions from manure management

Issue: Update methodology, temperature relationships, Tier 1 emission factors and Tier 2 parameters for different manure management systems

Issue: Update guidance on how to deal with non-CO2 emissions due to biogas production.

10.5 N2O emissions from manure management

Issue: Update N excretion parameters for all livestock categories.

Issue: Update emission factors for N2O for manure management system descriptions.

Issue: Update manure management volatilization and leaching factors with manure management systems.

Chapter 11 N2O Emissions from Managed Soils, and CO2 Emissions from Lime and Urea Application

11.2 N2O emissions from managed soils

11.2.1 Direct N2O emissions

Issue: Update N2O EF1, stratification by climate

Issue: Update crop parameters for calculating residue quantity and N.

Issue: Update the EF3 for N applied to soils, pasture, range and paddock by grazing animals.

Issue: Update emission factor for rice production (N2O)

11.2.2 Indirect N2O emissions

Issue: Evaluate emissions factors for indirect N2O, both the amount of leaching/runoff and volatilization, as well as the indirect emission factor.

Chapter 12 Harvested Wood Products (HWP)

Issue 1: Update technical parameters

Volume 5: Waste

Chapter 2 Waste Generation, Composition and Management Data

2.2 Waste generation and management data

Issue: Update default data on Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generation and management

2.3 Waste composition

Issue: Update default data on MSW composition data

Issue: Add information on nitrogen (N) content, Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) or Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) of sludge

Annex 2A.1 Waste Generation and Management Data – by country and regional averages

Issue: Update default data on MSW generation and management

Chapter 3 Solid Waste Disposal

3.2 Methodological issues

Issue: Elaborate on the First Order Decay (FOD) method taking into account active aeration of landfills

Issue 2: Elaborate on default DOC which decomposes (DOCf) values for different waste components

Chapter 5 Incineration and Open Burning of Waste

5.4 Choice of emission factors

Issue: Update oxidation factors for open burning of MSW

Issue: Elaborate on EF for CH4 from incineration related to new technologies gasification, pyrolysis, and plasma technology)

Issue: Elaborate on EF for N2O from incineration related to new technologies (e.g. gasification, pyrolysis, and plasma technology)

Chapter 6 Wastewater Treatment and Discharge

6.1 Introduction

Issue: Update to reflect additional types of treatment and disposal systems, such as aerobic/anaerobic treatment systems (e.g., anaerobic/anoxic/oxic (A2O), nitrification/denitrification, etc.) and constructed wetlands, as well as various types of septic systems (e.g., bottomless systems).

6.2 Methane emissions from wastewater

6.2.2 Domestic wastewater

Issue: Develop new Methane Correction Factors (MCFs) to reflect treatment processes that may be a combination of aerobic and anaerobic or anoxic zones (e.g., anaerobic/anoxic/oxic (A2O), modified Ludzack-Ettinger (MLE), etc.).

Issue: Consider the development of new MCFs to reflect different types of septic system (e.g., bottomless) and also to consider the effect of temperature on the MCF.

Issue: Elaborate guidance on what systems are classified as “not well managed”/overloaded for centralized aerobic treatment plants.

Issue: Provide guidance on estimating emissions from septic systems that are connected to larger centralized treatment plants.

Issue: Determine whether methane emissions from treated effluent should be included, particularly that discharged to stagnant water or overloaded receiving waters.

6.2.3 Industrial wastewater

Issue: Develop new MCFs to reflect treatment processes that may be a combination of aerobic and anaerobic or anoxic zones (e.g., anaerobic/anoxic/oxic (A2O), modified Ludzack-Ettinger (MLE), etc.).

Issue: Elaborate guidance on what systems are classified as “not well managed”/overloaded for centralized aerobic treatment plants

Issue: Determine whether methane emissions from treated effluent should be included, particularly that discharged to stagnant water or overloaded receiving waters.

6.3 Nitrous oxide emissions from wastewater

6.3.1 Methodological issues

Issue: Add discussion on the latest research related to how N2O is formed and emitted in treatment system

Issue: Consider introducing Tier 1 and Tier 2 methods, similar to the CH4 section.

Issue: Correct EF for nitrification/denitrification and develop N2O emission factors for additional treatment system configurations (aerobic/anaerobic/anoxic systems) as well as activated sludge systems.

Issue: Add EF for septic systems.

Issue: Addition of N2O emission calculation for centralized plants and septic systems

Issue: Improve the calculation of Neffluent

Issue: Addition of N2O from industrial wastewater


5 comments on “When will there be new IPCC GHG inventory guidelines?

  1. Mamadou Diarra on said:

    Hi Michael,

    Thank you very much for that useful information.

    2006 IPCC guidelines reviewer

  2. Hi Michael, thanks for the excellent and thorough update on the progress being made. While the IPCC Guidelines are intended for country-level inventories, do you expect that some of these changes will make their way into entity-level accounting, e.g. GHG Protocol?

  3. Michael Gillenwater on said:

    Pablo,

    Yes, most definitely, these changes will impact emission (and removal) estimation at all scales. Many changes include new emission factors that will be based on new science. As well as refined methods to better reduce uncertainties. We are also working on improved guidance to better explain and give guidance on issues like how to set up an inventory system and assess uncertainty. I would say that the majority of changes will be relevant in some way to inventories for organizations as well as calculations for projects and other accounting frameworks. As I have said in the past, most other protocols and methods rely on the IPCC guidelines as a technical reference.

    -Michael

  4. I am writing a PhD Study on Optimisation of Anaerobic Digestion system as an altrnative to Sustainable mitigation on GHG Emissions in Tropical Countries, a case study of Kenya.I kindly wish to have data on Global GHG Emissions contributed by Urban Solid waste; WASH,wastewater,industrial wastewater; chemical and hazardous waste and Kenyan status/stuation.

    Kind regards

    John Gakunga

  5. Michael Gillenwater on said:

    John,

    I would recommend you start with Google Scholar search for scholarly literature on your topic. There is much out there published to find.

    The 2006 IPCC guidelines will also provide highly useful overview and methodological information, and you should also look at the references section on the Waste and Agriculture volumes.

    Michael

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