Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Climate Change Science: High Quality Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data are a Cornerstone of Programs to Address Climate Change

In this Statement by John Stephenson, Director Natural Resources & Environment Office before the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Committee on Science and Technology, House of Representatives testified that quality data on emissions are essential to the development and implementation of a system intended to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Domestic and international experiences with cap-and-trade programs, which place a price on emissions, demonstrate the importance of data quality in establishing baselines, monitoring results, and maintaining the integrity of a program. Existing cap-and-trade programs establish an overall allowable level of emissions and distribute allowances to regulated entities, which in turn are able to buy or sell excess allowances.

Key considerations in developing reliable data on greenhouse gas emissions revolve primarily around the purpose and intended use of the data. In cases where the data are used to develop or implement a program to limit emissions, key considerations include (1) the scope of the program across emissions sources, such as whether it affects all emission-producing activities or a specified subgroup, and (2) the program’s coverage across the six primary greenhouse gases.

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