The biggest accounting flaw that distorts the calculation of CO2 emissions

Comptabiliser les émissions de CO2, pas si facile. © bluedesign, Adobe Stock

5.5 billion tons of CO2, Equals the annual emissions of the United States! Scientists have found a large gap between the emissions reported by each state and those calculated by independent models. The difference is in the ways in which some countries can rush to reduce their efforts.

This is a gap of 5.5 billion tons of CO2 Per year, equal to Emission Annual in the United States: The Difference Between CO emissions2 Each state report And those calculated by the international model maintain the ambiguity that could undermine the global goal of reducing greenhouse gases. However, this is not a question of fraud in any way or a country deliberately not wanting to cover up its plans. This giant gap is really a factor Wrong Formal.

Some models seem to give information in miles and others in kilometers

There are actually many models to evaluate CO emissions2. On the one hand, countries report anthropological CO emissions2 In the form of goals submitted from time to time to the United Nations Framework Convention Climate change (UNFCCC). On the other hand, anthropology flows CO2 Estimated by the International Council on Climate Change (IPCC) Comes from global models (Integrated rating models Or I). However, these models do not have a uniform way of calculating emissions and obtaining a net result. ” Some models seem to give information in miles and others in kilometers », The famous Giacomo Grossi, Forensic expert of the European Commission and the primary author of a study on this subject published Natural climate change.

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Carbon will sink into the heart of the debate

The reasons for this huge gap are very technical, but mainly relax in a counting way Carbon sink, And especially the amount of CO2 Absorbed by forests. Countries with large forests can deduct CO from their emissions2 Captured trees. For example, the United States reports an equivalent emission of 6.6 billion tons of CO2 From 2019 (last reporting year), from Combustion From Fuels Fossils, human agricultural activities and other anthropological sources. But then they spent 789 million tons to take into account the share of the soil. In the end, the net result of emissions reported to the international community is about 5.8 billion tons, which is 12% savings.

Interval of 3 billion hectares of forest land

But be careful: eliminate CO emissions2 Forests, which should correspond to the voluntary action of countries, for example, cessation Deforestation, The Tree replanting Or reclaiming degraded forests. However, it is very difficult to determine what a “managed” land is. National estimates have a very flexible way of looking at these Carbon sink Thus there are approximately 3 billion hectares of managed forest lands worldwide rather than independent samples. As a result, the system naturally favors large forested countries such as Russia or Brazil and does not encourage efforts to reduce their emissions.

Diplomatic puzzle

« This gap is a major obstacle to the use of MOIs to set adequate emissions targets in the context of the Paris Agreement. Warn the authors of the study, who are proposing an “adjustment” method to synchronize everything.

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Cary Douglas

About the Author: Cary Douglas

Cary Douglas is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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