Who is building our global GHG MRV infrastructure?
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:
- The scientific knowledge necessary to understand the problem and the technologies to address it
- The legal and regulatory systems to manage the problem
- 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
- 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
- Adequate quantity and quality of human resources to address the problem and educational systems to supply well-training 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 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. 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 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 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 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 the for a for the emerging discipline of GHG professionals and researchers to develop the intellectual foundation of the field. One of the key ways we are doing this is with the new peer-reviewed scholarly journal we have launched 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.
We encourage you to spread the word about this new important journal and to even consider submitting a paper yourself.
The aims and scope of the journal are as follows:
Greenhouse Gas Measurement & Management (GHGMM) is a scholarly peer-reviewed journal that aims to provide reliable and up-to-date research and information on a broad range of issues relating to greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the growing community of professionals dealing with climate change.
As the old saying goes “you cannot manage what you do not measure.” GHGMM covers the application of science, engineering, and economic principles to improve the way society mitigates the anthropogenic causes of global climate change. This includes developing and providing reliable performance metrics related to GHG emissions and removals and managing activities that reduce GHG emissions to and/or increase their removals from the atmosphere.
GHGMM is relevant to a variety of emission and removal accounting frameworks (i.e., system boundaries), each of which define the metrics that support particular mitigation policies and activities, such as those resulting from international treaties, domestic regulations, industrial efforts, or consumer actions. These GHG accounting frameworks (levels) include:
- sectoral, program, and policy;
- technology, product, life cycle, and supply-chain;
- entity (e.g., corporate emissions inventory);
- facility (i.e., installation); and
- project (e.g., offsets).
To mitigate GHGs, it is essential to ensure the availability of reliable data regarding their emissions and removals, which is achieved through the design and application of regulatory and compliance-relevant Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) systems. These systems and rules for GHG emission and removal metrics must take into account the context of policy developments and industry practices. Specifically, the measurement of GHGs includes the following issues:
- Metering and sensors – collecting primary data of direct GHG emissions and relevant proxy data with which emissions or removals can be monitored and estimated;
- GHG protocols, standards, methodologies, emission inventories, accounting and metrics – designing, applying, and understanding the limitations of different approaches used for measuring, estimating, reporting and verifying GHG emissions and removals (including issues such as boundaries, additionality, baselines, leakage, and permanence); and using different technologies for various accounting frameworks and sectors (e.g., fuel combustion, agriculture, forestry, waste management, etc.);
- Uncertainty – understanding and managing uncertainty in the measurement and estimation of GHG emissions, removals and storage;
- Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) – establishing and enhancing QA/QC and auditing processes, including validation of approaches and verification of GHG emissions, removals and storage;
- Information and communication technologies (ICTs) – developing and using software and other tools for the measurement and estimation of GHG emissions, removals and storage.
Managing GHG emissions involves: the use of performance metrics, systems engineering, and economic analyses to identify mitigation activities, as well as planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling the implementation of these activities. Specifically, the management of GHGs includes the following issues:
- Mitigation analysis – understanding, identifying, assessing and selecting appropriate policies (including economic and market-based instruments), measures, technologies and business strategies that aim to mitigate GHGs;
- Mitigation implementation – understanding the behavioral and technological options for reducing emissions and enhancing removals in a given context and managing the implementation of selected mitigation activities;
- Performance management – accounting for, and measuring, the effectiveness of implemented mitigation activities and technologies at all levels and using metrics to improve performance;
- Emissions analysis – predicting and modeling the effects of specific mitigation activities, products or technologies on GHG emissions and removals;
- Information and communication technologies (ICTs) – developing and using software and other tools for the management of GHGs;
- Adaptation and pollutant emissions – identifying synergies and co-benefits between activities that reduce GHGs, adaptation to the impacts of climate change, and emissions of other pollutants;
- Social issues – understanding the social, economic, and political factors, risks, opportunities, and governance issues relating to the management of GHGs (e.g., corporate disclosure, community right to know).
GHGMM will be open to different types of articles, including:
- Original research papers (for example, on topics relating to: theoretical and practical developments on GHGs, concepts and methods, empirical analysis, policy assessments)
- Short communications/Case studies
- Invited reviews
- Opinion pieces/Commentaries
- Book reviews
- Meeting reports