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Harmonizing Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Project Accounting and National Inventories

May 3, 2018 3 MIN. READ
In a new article for ClimateLinks, Marian Van Pelt explains why greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation activities are often not sufficiently incorporated into GHG inventories.

Encouraged by ambitious targets set in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), countries around the world have been ramping up their pursuit of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission mitigation initiatives. While the widespread pursuit of these initiatives is a positive indication of growing global support for climate action, it also raises a somewhat-daunting challenge for climate change practitioners. How can they ensure that the successes of these mitigation initiatives are adequately captured and reflected in national GHG inventories? GHG mitigation activities are often not sufficiently incorporated into GHG inventories, and disparities between bottom-up (mitigation activities) and top-down (national inventories) GHG emissions are a frequent occurrence.

Why do these mismatches happen? National GHG emission projections may not reflect ongoing mitigation activities. Different actors may rely on different data and assumptions. Mitigation efforts across multiple sectors may create the potential for double counting of emission reductions. Institutional differences can also further compound this problem, with each institution relying on their own protocols and schedules for Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV).

To address this challenge, the USAID Resources to Advance LEDS Implementation (RALI) team developed a first-of-its kind harmonization framework, known as the RALI GHG MRV Harmonization Approach, to help practitioners align emission reductions achieved with national GHG inventories. A new paper in the RALI series provides a high-level summary of each of the six steps of the Harmonization Approach and highlights its early application. While grounded in the World Resources Institute’s GHG Protocol, the application of the Harmonization Approach also benefits from the direct experience of RALI climate change practitioners, whose significant experience helping developing countries quantify emissions and the impact of mitigation policies was a key component of the development of the MRV Harmonization Approach.

By using the Harmonization Approach to improve the alignment of mitigation initiatives with their national inventories, countries become more confident in the accuracy of their national GHG emissions and are able to report internationally on their mitigation successes. This can also benefit NDC reporting, enhancing global capacity for tracking GHG emission mitigation progress. Finally, it can help inform decision-makers as they assess the effectiveness of different mitigation strategies and direct resources toward low emissions development activities.

RALI is already working with the Government of Colombia to strengthen their GHG MRV systems. In addition, team members have presented the MRV Harmonization Approach at numerous events, including the Global NDC Conference in Bonn, Germany; the Latin American and Caribbean LEDS (LAC LEDS) regional meeting in Mexico City, Mexico; and at the Conference of Parties (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.

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