Improvements to Greenhouse Gas Accounting – the Impact of Ecometrica Publications So Far

Ecometrica Publications exists to disseminate ideas and methods related to Ecometrica’s expertise in greenhouse gas accounting, and spatial data analysis.

We have produced a number of papers now with suggested improvements in the field of greenhouse gas accounting, and it is interesting to look back at the impact we’ve had so far.

    1. The International Energy Agency (IEA) now produces electricity-specific emission factors. In August 2011 we published a paper setting out a method for deriving electricity-specific emission factors. The IEA emission factors at the time, which were widely used as proxy factors for grid electricity, were actually for combined electricity and heat emissions, and were not very accurate.

      As a result of the Ecometrica paper the IEA have now published electricity-specific emission factors, which should greatly improve the accuracy of greenhouse gas accounting around the world.
    2. Defra/DECC have changed their waste emission factors. Defra/DECC’s 2009, 2010, and 2011 emission factor publications included credits for avoided emissions in the factors for recycled waste and incineration with heat recovery. We produced a paper to explain that corporate greenhouse gas accounts are inventories of actual physical emissions and removals, and that such inventories should not include values for avoided emissions.

      As a result of the paper, the 2012 publication of Defra/DECC’s emission factors does not include credits for avoided emissions.
    3. The Carbon Trust amended their calculation spreadsheet. We had come across companies who were misreporting their electricity emissions because they were using the Carbon Trust’s footprint spreadsheet. The spreadsheet was mistakenly reporting the emissions associated with transmission and distribution (T&D) losses as scope 2 (whereas they should be scope 3). In order to flag up this problem we produced a paper on how to correctly report electricity emissions.

      As a result of the paper the Carbon Trust amended their spreadsheet (though they continued to report generated and T&D loss emissions together as “scopes 2 and 3”, which is not completely compliant with the requirements of the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard).

    What’s next in our sights?

    There are still some areas of greenhouse gas accounting that need to be improved, and hopefully these changes will be made in the near future.

    1. Substitution should not be used within attributional life cycle assessment (LCA). ISO 14044 needs to be clarified, and the PAS 2050 and the GHG Protocol Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard need to be amended, so that substitution is not used within attributional LCA. For more discussion on this please see Substitution: a Problem with Current Life Cycle Assessment Standards.
    2. Double-counted non-additional green electricity purchasing instruments should not convey the right to claim zero emissions. The Carbon Disclosure Project should amend its proposed guidance for 2013 submissions, and the forthcoming GHG Protocol guidance on green power accounting should ensure double-counted non-additional green purchasing instruments do not convey the right to report zero emissions. For more discussion on this please see Green Electricity Purchasing Instruments – Are We Heading for Carbon-Gate?




Leave a Reply