Category: International organisations, Emission inventories

2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines

Justin Goodwin, Director at Aether, worked as part of a multi-national team on the 2019 Refinement of the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.

The aim of the 2019 Refinement is to deliver a scientifically up-to-date foundation for supporting the preparation and ongoing improvement of national greenhouse gas inventories, used in conjunction with the 2006 IPCC Guidelines.

Under Article 13 of the Paris Agreement, countries (Parties) are obliged to regularly submit national inventory reports of emissions from anthropogenic sources and carbon removals to environmental stores (sinks) of greenhouse gases. To ensure the quality of data reporting, all Parties to the UNFCCC must follow the IPCC Guidelines. The latest version of the Guidelines will include the 2019 Refinement which elaborates on, updates and fill certain gaps in the guidance provided by the 2006 IPCC Guidelines. This helps Parties in fulfilling the terms of the Paris Agreement transparency reporting.

The challenge

A universal revision of the 2006 IPCC Guidelines was deemed to be unnecessary by the 26th Meeting of Task Force Bureau (TFB), held in Ottawa in 2014. That meeting ultimately concluded that the 2006 IPCC Guidelines provide a strong methodological framework for compiling national greenhouse gas inventories. However, to ensure the scientific integrity of the guidelines, it was emphasised that specific refinements were required as a result of technical progress since 2006.

Therefore the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI) formulated a technical assessment of the 2006 IPCC Guidelines, revealing an abundance of new empirical and scientific knowledge published since 2006. In particular, this assessment called for scientific progress to be considered in respect to data for emission factor development for certain gases and categories.

Another aim was to improve guidance on national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory arrangements and the use of inventory management tools. The 2019 Refinement therefore also supports countries in compiling complete, reliable national inventories of GHGs, regardless of their available resources and experience.

The solution

The 2019 Refinement involved the fine-tuning of chapters from the 2006 IPCC Guidelines, alongside new sections aimed at addressing gaps in the 2006 IPCC guidelines. The new sections (Volume 1 Sections 1.4 and 1.6), on national inventory arrangements and the use of inventory management tools were designed and led by Aether’s Justin Goodwin.

These sections provide guidance on the establishment of GHG inventory arrangements that support the ongoing updating and maintenance of national GHG inventories to ensure high quality in emissions reporting. Improving the quality of national GHG inventories on a continuous basis involves achieving transparency, accuracy, completeness, comparability and consistency (TACCC), and this requires systems to manage data gathering, analysis and reporting, alongside well-functioning teams of experts.

The guidance included details of workplans, data management systems and capacity building procedures. Workplans clarify the schedule of each step required in the generation of GHG inventory outputs, accelerating the compilation of inventories. Data management systems range from collections of spreadsheets to more advanced database tools for data aggregation and QA/QC support. Advice on the use of data management systems and national inventory arrangements will be of great use for Parties in the coming years, to ensure a high quality of inventory reporting no matter the extent of resources available to each country.

The new guidance also notes that under the Paris Agreement enhanced transparency framework, the national GHG inventories may benefit from being managed alongside other environmental data collection services. These include National Statistical Systems, air pollution inventories and subnational GHG inventory compilation. Such linkages will be greatly beneficial in pooling resources and expertise, especially when directed and overseen by a “single national entity”, the lead organisation with the responsibility for collating and reporting official national GHG estimates.

The result

This project delivered the new guidance needed to improve and refine the guidelines for compiling national greenhouse gas inventories. While it is yet to be seen whether the 2019 Refinement sparks a tangible improvement in national GHG emissions reporting, the call for improvements to GHG inventory training and education marks a positive step forward in encouraging countries to compile the most reliable emissions inventories possible.

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Justin Goodwin

Director

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