VERIFYING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

METHODS TO SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE AGREEMENTS

Committee on Methods for Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
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Verifying greenhouse gas emissions Methods to support InternatIonal ClIMate agreeMents Committee on Methods for Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Division on Earth and Life Studies

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS • 500 Fifth Street, N.W. • Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the United States intelligence community. Any opinions, findings, and conclu- sions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the intelligence community. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-15211-2 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-15211-9 Library of Congress Control Number: 2010926783 Copies of this report are available from the program office: Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 (202) 334-3512 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu Cover: Major sources and sinks of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Cover design by Van Nguyen. Copyright 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advis- ing the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON METHODS FOR ESTIMATING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS STEPHEN W. PACALA (Chair), Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey CLARE BREIDENICH, Independent Consultant, Seattle, Washington PETER G. BREWER, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, California INEZ FUNG, University of California, Berkeley MICHAEL R. GUNSON, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California GEMMA HEDDLE, Chevron Corporation, San Ramon, California BEVERLY LAW, Oregon State University, Corvallis GREGG MARLAND, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee KEITH PAUSTIAN, Colorado State University, Fort Collins MICHAEL PRATHER, University of California, Irvine JAMES T. RANDERSON, University of California, Irvine PIETER TANS, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado STEVEN C. WOFSY, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts National Research Council Staff ANNE M. LINN, Study Director, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources JANEISE STURDIVANT, Program Assistant, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate v

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BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE ANTONIO J. BUSALACCHI, JR. (Chair), University of Maryland, College Park ROSINA M. BIERBAUM, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor RICHARD CARBONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado WALTER F. DABBERDT, Vaisala, Inc., Boulder, Colorado KIRSTIN DOW, University of South Carolina, Columbia GREG S. FORBES, The Weather Channel, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia ISAAC HELD, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, New Jersey ARTHUR LEE, Chevron Corporation, San Ramon, California RAYMOND T. PIERREHUMBERT, University of Chicago KIMBERLY PRATHER, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California KIRK R. SMITH, University of California, Berkeley JOHN T. SNOW, University of Oklahoma, Norman THOMAS H. VONDER HAAR, Colorado State University/CIRA, Fort Collins XUBIN ZENG, University of Arizona, Tucson Ex Officio Member GERALD A. MEEHL, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado National Research Council Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Director LAURIE GELLER, Senior Program Officer IAN KRAUCUNAS, Senior Program Officer MARTHA McCONNELL, Program Officer MAGGIE WALSER, Associate Program Officer TOBY WARDEN, Associate Program Officer JOSEPH CASOLA, Postdoctoral Fellow RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator KATIE WELLER, Research Associate LAUREN BROWN, Research Associate ROB GREENWAY, Program Associate SHELLY-ANN FREELAND, Senior Program Assistant AMANDA PURCELL, Senior Program Assistant RICARDO PAYNE, Program Assistant SHUBHA BANSKOTA, Financial Associate vi

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Foreword A greements to limit emissions of greenhouse or to multination regions? Will individual baseline gases are a current focus of international nego- comparison years be employed or will rates of decreases tiations. Such agreements are sought partly in emissions be specified differently? The author- because gases emitted from each nation spread glob- ing committee provides answers to some anticipated ally in the atmosphere—a relatively inert gas spreads monitoring and verification requirements while also quickly in an east-west direction, then vertically and in creating a framework from which specific information a north-south direction. For gases with survival times can be drawn, along with ways to improve scientific of more than few years (such as carbon dioxide, nitrous c apabilities. Future agreements or carbon markets oxide, methane, many fluorinated hydrocarbons, but might include credits for uptake of carbon dioxide. This not ozone), constant emissions in the northern hemi- report’s discussion of agriculture, forestry, and other sphere result in nearly equal atmospheric amounts both land-use activities can lead to improved, scientifically north and south of the equator after several years. based estimates of the accuracy of uptake rates and National targets for emissions are being discussed methods of monitoring them. worldwide, as are baseline years against which changes This study was initiated by the National Research are to be compared. But how well can we determine Council because of our perception that the ques- whether a nation is meeting its targets and how well do tions above had not received enough attention from we know nation-by-nation emissions in baseline years, scientists, engineers, or governments. The authoring past or future? From my own research in atmospheric committee could draw from a very limited literature chemistry, I know that little research has been done to on these subjects and some of their findings and con- answer these questions. Similarly, governments have clusions are original. not focused much attention on how well these quanti- The extent to which monitoring and verification ties can be estimated and monitored. requirements will be incorporated into future interna- Physical scientists might assume that monitoring tional agreements on greenhouse gases and/or carbon and verification would be based on physical measure- markets will be decided by political and business ments of greenhouse gases in air and water and pro- leaders. This report informs those communities and cesses involving soils and vegetation. Business leaders scientists as to our current capabilities and also how to and diplomats might assume that self-reported data improve those capabilities over time. The committee based on activities like fossil-fuel usage and other chair, Professor Stephen Pacala, the other committee measures would be used for monitoring and verifica- members, Dr. Anne Linn, and the reviewers deserve tion. This report shows how data from both realms our thanks for this excellent report. can be used and also how to improve the respective estimates. Ralph J. Cicerone The details of future agreements are not yet known; Chairman, National Research Council and for example, will responsibilities apply to single nations President, National Academy of Sciences vii

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Preface G reenhouse gas emissions are estimated for a The committee met four times to gather input, variety of purposes, including gauging the deliberate, and write its report. After its last meet- success of mitigation measures, conducting ing, the committee prepared a letter report on the basic research on biogeochemical cycles, and carry- capabilities of CO2-sensing satellites to monitor and ing out agency operations. Such estimates are made verify greenhouse gas emissions. The most promising for a variety of gases, at a variety of scales and with a of these satellites—the National Aeronautics and Space wide range of uncertainties. With negotiations for a Administration’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory—had climate treaty under way, it is timely to ask how well failed at launch, and a decision on whether to replace the greenhouse gas emissions of individual countries it was expected before the committee’s final report was can be monitored and verified, and what improvements completed. A final decision on a replacement mission can be made to support a treaty. The National Research has not yet been made, and the information and analy- Council’s Committee on Methods for Estimating sis in the letter report are included in this final report. Greenhouse Gas Emissions was established to carry The committee thanks the individuals who briefed out the following study: the committee or provided other input: Fred Ambrose, Richard Birdsey, Mausami Desai, Leon Fuerth, Jeffery The study will review current methods and propose Goebel, Samuel Goward, Kevin Gurney, Bill Irving, improved methods for estimating and verifying green- Maurice LeFranc, Michael Levi, Hank Margolis, Paul house gas emissions at different spatial (e.g., national, regional, global) and temporal (e.g., annual, decadal) McArdle, Gilbert Metcalf, Joseph Norbeck, Lee Schip- scales. The greenhouse gases to be considered are per, Dale Simbeck, Karen Treanton, Riccardo Valentini, carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Rod Venterea, Wenwen Wang, Zhonghua Yang, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), nitrous oxide (N2O), Linda Zall. The committee also wishes to thank the methane (CH4), and perfluorinated hydrocarbons NRC staff in general and Anne Linn in particular for (PFCs). Emissions of soot and sulfur compounds exceptional efficiency, supernatural patience, expert along with precursors of tropospheric ozone may also be considered. The results would be useful for a variety editing, and good humor. Her knowledge and assistance of applications, including carbon trading, setting emis- were critical and she made the process a pleasure. sions reduction targets, and monitoring and verifying international treaties on climate change. Stephen W. Pacala, Chair ix

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Acknowledgments T his report has been reviewed in draft form by Ralph Keeling, Scripps Institution of individuals chosen for their diverse perspec- Oceanography, La Jolla, California tives and technical expertise, in accordance Denise Mauzerall, Princeton University, New with procedures approved by the National Research Jersey Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The Arvin Mosier, U.S. Department of Agriculture purpose of this independent review is to provide candid (retired), Mount Pleasant, South Carolina and critical comments that will assist the institution in Michael Obersteiner, International Institute making its published report as sound as possible and to for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, ensure that the report meets institutional standards for Austria objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study Paul Wennberg, California Institute of charge. The review comments and draft manuscript Technology, Pasadena remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following Although the reviewers listed above have provided individuals for their review of this report: constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the report’s conclusions or recommen- Scott Doney, Woods Hole Oceanographic dations, nor did they see the final draft of the report Institution, Massachusetts before its release. The review of this report was over- Emanuel Gloor, University of Leeds, United seen by William L. Chameides, Duke University, and Kingdom Charles E. Kolb, Aerodyne Research, Inc. Appointed Richard Goody, Harvard University (emeritus), by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain Falmouth, Massachusetts that an independent examination of this report was Isaac Held, National Oceanic and Atmospheric carried out in accordance with institutional procedures Administration, Princeton, New Jersey and that all review comments were carefully considered. Richard Houghton, Woods Hole Research Responsibility for the final content of this report rests Center, Massachusetts entirely with the authoring panel and the institution. xi

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Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 11 Domain of the Report, 11 O verview of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, 15 Organization of the Report, 20 2 NATIONAL INVENTORIES OF GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS 21 Developing and Reporting National Inventories, 21 Sector-Based Reporting, 24 Limitations of National Inventories for Monitoring, 28 Near-Term Capabilities for Improving National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, 33 Recommendations, 35 3 MEASURING FLUXES FROM LAND-USE SOURCES AND SINKS 37 Remote Sensing, 37 Improving UNFCCC Inventories of Land-Use Emissions, 46 Future (>5 Years) Opportunities and Threats, 49 Recommendations, 50 4 EMISSIONS ESTIMATED FROM ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANIC MEASUREMENTS 53 Inverse Modeling Studies of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, 54 New Approaches for Increasing the Accuracy of National Emissions Estimates, 59 Recommendations, 68 REFERENCES 71 APPENDIXES A UNFCCC Inventories of Industrial Processes and Waste 85 B Estimates of Signals Created in the Atmosphere by Emissions 89 xiii

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xiv CONTENTS C Current Sources of Atmospheric and Oceanic Greenhouse Gas Data 93 D Technologies for Measuring Emissions by Large Local Sources 103 E Biographical Sketches of Committee Members 105 F Acronyms and Abbreviations 109