Who is building our global GHG MRV infrastructure?

July 13, 2010, by Michael Gillenwater

Sometimes it feels quite lonely here at GHG Management Institute headquarters. Toiling away trying to do what we think is needed to support the future of greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation policy. While most people who pay attention to the issue are obsessed with the politics of the moment, we work away behind the scenes thinking about and building infrastructure for the long-run. Indeed in today’s world of economic near-depression and policy gridlock, the unfortunate reality is that long-term infrastructure garners minimal attention.

What do I mean by infrastructure in this context? I mean those things that enable implementation of policy in all sectors and at all levels. I include in this list:

  1. The scientific knowledge necessary to understand the problem and the technologies to address it
  2. The legal and regulatory systems to manage the problem
  3. In this era of information technology, the information management and decision support systems necessary to address a global problem that is pervasive in its implications
  4. The technical standards (i.e., rules, codes, etc.) that facilitate industry and other actors to coordinate and act cost-effectively with high degrees of quality assurance
  5. Adequate quantity and quality of human resources to address the problem and educational systems to supply well-trained professionals

There is much work yet to be done to develop the legal and regulatory infrastructure necessary to mitigate GHG emissions. However, as we all are aware, further progress on this front awaits an expanded political consensus.

Significant investment is going into new information technology systems designed to manage GHG emissions in anticipation of future policy and emission markets. Yet, the quality of products available varies widely and is poorly understood. By offering substantive third-party testing, the Institute has begun working to address this opacity.

Globally, the body of standards that will need to be developed to support the range of policies, technologies, and markets is still in its infancy. GHG standards to-date are, for the most part, overly broad and non-specific. The engineering and scientific communities have yet to heavily engage and support the development of more detailed and rigorous standards along the lines of what we see in other industries. And standards development has been systemically hamstrung by the expense and time existing approaches and processes require. However, when you consider the speed and scale at which standards must be developed to keep pace with the demands of a carbon-constrained world, the question of whether existing processes are up to the task emerges. (We will discuss this issue in greater depth in a future blog post detailing the work the GHG Management Institute is undertaking to revolutionize the development of standards, methodologies, protocols, and codes.)

And clearly, the Institute is strongly focused on training and education: building the GHG measurement and management workforce of the future. This has been a key focus since the Institute was founded, and is visible in a range of initiatives from our courses to our developing professional certification program, even our workforce survey.

But, in this blog post, I want to focus more on the first of these infrastructure components: scientific knowledge. The Institute is not a research organization, so our role here is not to generate new science. But as a convening organization, we network GHG professionals from around the world, providing fora for GHG professionals and researchers to develop the intellectual foundation of their new field. One of the key ways we are doing this is with the launch of a peer-reviewed scholarly journal with Earthscan. The journal’s title is Greenhouse Gas Measurement and Management, and it is unique in its focus on the intellectual infrastructure we will need to go beyond just policy debate and design and move onto the serious work of IMPLEMENTATION.

GHGMM

We encourage you to spread the word about this new important journal and to even consider submitting a paper yourself. I hope you agree, that any field without an intellectual base and home will not be successful. And we cannot afford the art and practice of GHG measurement and management to fail.

The aims and scope of the journal are as follows:

Greenhouse Gas Measurement & Management (GHGMM) aims to serve the growing community of professionals dealing with greenhouse gases (GHGs) by providing reliable and up-to-date information on a broad spectrum of relevant issues, including the following:

Measurement of greenhouse gases

Markets and projects

Products and technologies

Management of greenhouse gases

GHGMM will be open to different types of articles, including:


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