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Press Releases :: February 24, 2009

Subcommittee Discusses Tracking Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(Washington, DC) – Today the House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held a hearing to discuss the current systems of monitoring, reporting and verifying greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Witnesses discussed current efforts of GHG registries to track emissions of the six GHG’s from individual companies, cities, universities, and other organizations. Information on carbon dioxide emissions is available and generally reliable for the power-generation and industrial sector. However, tracking the other five GHG’s presents a greater challenge. Monitoring technologies, improved emissions factors, and models are necessary for an accurate accounting of baseline GHG emissions and to track changes in emissions.

“In order to evaluate programs – either mandatory or voluntary – for controlling greenhouse gases, we must be able to track emissions accurately,” said Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA). “We need an accurate measurement of baseline emissions. We need to know the emissions levels we are starting from and we need a good baseline estimate as a benchmark to determine whether control programs are effective or not in reducing emissions.”

Measurement, reporting and verification are the backbone of a cap-and-trade or any other GHG control scheme. Incorrect emissions data can undermine a program’s legitimacy and effectiveness. Any successful market-based GHG control scheme will need a fair, robust, and accurate monitoring, reporting and verifying system, thereby ensuring that emissions reductions have, in fact, occurred.

The hearing focused on three aspects:
• Measuring GHG emissions—either by measuring emissions of greenhouse gases directly or by estimating emissions;
• Reporting GHG emissions—including GHG registries; and
• Verifying GHG—including audits to check that the proper procedures, emissions inputs, use of emissions factors, adhere to the registry’s guidelines.

The six greenhouse gases are: Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

For more information, please see the Committee’s website.



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