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China and US Both Have Capacity to Measure and Report CO2 Emissions, Says WWF

Questions Over Measuring and Reporting of Emissions have Been Source of Contention Between Countries

BONN, Germany, June 7, 2010 – The United States and China, by far the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gas pollution, have the technology and processes in place right now to accurately measure and report their emissions of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases, according to a new report issued today by World Wildlife Fund. 

“The US and China have historically been at loggerheads when it comes to measuring and reporting emissions,” said Keya Chatterjee, Director of WWF’s Climate Program in the US.  “This report finds that there is ample opportunity for both countries to work collaboratively and learn from each other.  Working together is essential for reducing tensions and fostering an environment of trust that will be needed for a fair, ambitious and binding international climate treaty.” 

With the US and China accounting for approximately 40 percent of CO2 emissions, cooperation between the two countries, including around the measuring and reporting of emissions, is viewed by WWF as critical to addressing climate change.  At the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, disagreements between the US and China on emissions reporting and transparency nearly ground the international talks to a halt. 

International negotiators are currently meeting in Bonn, Germany, picking up where the Copenhagen climate talks left off.  Negotiators are specifically discussing the measuring, reporting and verification of emissions at the Bonn summit.

WWF’s report, Counting the Gigatonnes: Building Trust in Greenhouse Gas Inventories from the United States and China, outlines the systems already in place in both countries that can ensure accurate and timely data on greenhouse gas emissions.  The report concludes that the US and China are committed to making significant progress in building capacity to track and report emissions and finds that each country currently has the capability to measure its emissions, albeit in different ways. 

The report outlines areas in which the two countries could improve collaboration and learn from each other’s experiences. For example, the report finds that China could learn from the US’s long experience in conducting surveys, more regular reporting, and disclosure of primary data and methodologies; while the US could gain from China’s recent experience in ensuring the validity of self-reporting structures through robust auditing and regular spot-checking.

“Because the US does not yet regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other large emitters, those emissions sources in the US have no reason to lie about their emissions,” said Chatterjee.  “Lack of regulation of greenhouse gas emissions may increase the reliability of US data, but it hurts the ability of the US to compete with China in the clean energy economy.

“If the US wants to compete with China in the clean energy economy, it will require increased collaboration with China and it will require the US to implement the comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation currently being debated in the US Senate,” Chatterjee said.  

WWF’s report, Counting the Gigatonnes: Building Trust in Greenhouse Gas Inventories from the United States and China, is available here.