“Dodgy” reporting of national greenhouse gas emission inventories could be a bigger threat to the success of the Paris agreement than Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the landmark global pact, according to a BBC investigation that exposed gaps between actual emissions and the data countries have filed with the United Nations.
“The core part of Paris [is] the global stock-takes which are going to happen every five years,” designed to document countries’ progress in reducing their emissions, “and after the stock-takes countries are meant to raise their ambition,” said Prof. Glen Peters of Oslo’s Centre for International Climate Research. “But if you can’t track progress sufficiently, which is the whole point of these stock-takes, you basically can’t do anything.”
In the investigative report, researchers from Switzerland’s Jungfraujoch air monitoring station report levels of hydrofluorocarbon from a location in Italy that the country doesn’t acknowledge in its emissions inventory. BBC also critiques China’s carbon dioxide data, and India’s accounting for its methane emissions. India is home to about 15% of the world’s livestock, but “what they note is that methane emissions are about 50% uncertain for categories like ruminants,” said the University of Bristol’s Dr. Anita Ganesan, who has overseen some of the air monitoring research for the country. “What this means is that the emissions they submit could be plus or minus 50%” of the actual reality.”
India’s margin of error for nitrous oxide is 100%.
“What we’re worried about is what the planet experiences, never mind what the statistics are,” said University of London Prof. Euan Nisbet. “In the air, we see methane going up. The warming impact from that methane is enough to derail Paris.”