Under the Copenhagen climate accord reached last December, countries that pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions are to be held to strict domestic and international reporting standards. But this doesn't ensure that reported emission levels are truly accurate, according to a recent report from the U.S. National Research Council (NRC). For most countries, independent data on the full range of greenhouse gases is still unavailable, the report concludes.
In industrialized countries, self-reported national inventories of carbon dioxide [CO.sub.2] emissions from fossil fuel use have estimated uncertainties of less than 5 percent, on average. However, uncertainties for net [co.sub.2] emissions from land use change (such as deforestation) and for emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, perfluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride often range from 25 to 100 percent.
The NRC offers several recommendations for improving the collection, analysis, and reporting of emissions that could quickly improve verification procedures. The cost, based on an estimate of improving emission verification in 10 of the largest emitting developing countries, would be a "relatively modest" US$11 million over five years.
"For any international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, it would be essential for each...