Counting Carbon Is Not as Simple as We Think
The old saw that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” bedevils efforts to meet the climate pledges made in Paris a year ago, according to a new study from researchers in Finland and England.
More than 190 countries agreed in Paris—and confirmed this month in Marrakech—their intention to substantially reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to hold average global warming below 2.0ºC. But “laudable as these pledges and policies are,” notes the Climate News Network, “they mean very little without strong, transparent monitoring systems capable of building trust between the various nations involved.”
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With that in mind, researchers at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the UK’s University of East Anglia and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) examined “one of the most advanced monitoring systems in the world,” in place in the European Union since 1993. They found “serious shortcomings,” Climate News reports.
“These include arguments among participating [EU] countries over the costs involved, which institutions should oversee the system, and the usefulness or otherwise of the information collected.”
The EU—like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which collates national emissions data for all the world’s countries– depends on individual governments to report their jurisdictions’ emissions, “with governments unwilling to allow EU institutions to have too much control,” the outlet observed.
“Over the years, countries have adopted different methods of monitoring GHG emissions and climate policies. Often nations have not supplied references to corroborate their findings: while Germany has in the past given full references, the UK and Spain often supplied none at all. This has made comparisons between various states difficult.”
“Monitoring is probably the most underestimated challenge in implementing the Paris Agreement,” commented Mikael Hildén of the SYKE’s climate program. “In the past, it has been seen as a technical, data-gathering task. We show that it is anything but a mere reporting exercise.”