Measurement under the UNFCCC

Requirements for measurement of GHG emissions

Measurement of GHG emissions in developing countries’ national GHG inventories should follow, at a minimum, the IPCC 1996 Revised Guidelines with the option of using the 2006 IPCC Guidelines and the more recent 2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (IPCC, 2019). The IPCC Greenhouse Gas Guidelines provide detailed methods for estimating GHG emissions by sources and removals by sinks.

The 2006 IPCC guidelines update and synthesize the Revised 1996 Guidelines, Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). There are some structural changes in the 2006 guidelines, including the combination of the previously separate agriculture and LULUCF sectors into one sector (called agriculture, forestry, and other land-use (AFOLU)); however, for the most part, the inventory methods in the 2006 Guidelines are updates of the previous editions (e.g., additional sources, new default emission factors). The 2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (IPCC, 2019) brings focus onto emission factors – including more disaggregated Tier 1 default values (i.e., considering the effects of different livestock productivities and types of nitrogen fertilizers on emissions) and improvements in variables necessary for countries to develop specific Tier 2 emission factors.

Requirements for measurement of mitigation actions

For measuring the effects of mitigation actions, there is limited agreed-upon methodological guidance under the UNFCCC. The one exception is REDD, where more detailed methodological guidance has been agreed on.

Guidance on the preparation of National Communications requires developing countries to provide information on steps taken in the implementation of the UNFCCC guidance, including mitigation actions. The guidance states that: “based on national circumstances, non-Annex I Parties are encouraged to use whatever methods are available and appropriate in order to formulate and prioritize programs containing measures to mitigate climate change.” Guidance for Biennial Update Reports (BURs) requires that “information on methodologies and assumptions” is given “to the extent possible” and that domestic MRV arrangements are described.

Guidance on GHG quantification for domestic MRV of domestically supported NAMAs respects the principles that MRV should be:

“voluntary, pragmatic, non-prescriptive, non-intrusive and country-driven, take into account national circumstances and national priorities, respect the diversity of nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs), build on existing domestic systems and capacities, recognize existing domestic measurement, reporting and verification systems and promote a cost-effective approach.”

When the Paris Agreement states that all Parties shall account for their NDCs, it refers to existing guidance adopted under the UNFCCC (see the box below).

NDC accounting requirements
“Parties shall account for their nationally determined contributions. In accounting for anthropogenic emissions and removals corresponding to their nationally determined contributions, Parties shall promote environmental integrity, transparency, accuracy, completeness, comparability and consistency, and ensure the avoidance of double counting, in when recognizing and implementing mitigation actions with respect to anthropogenic emissions and removals, Parties should take into account, as appropriate, existing methods and guidance under the Convention, in the light of the provisions of paragraph 13 of this Article.”

Source: Paris Agreement, Article 4, paragraphs 13-14