MODULE 1.2: GREENHOUSE GAS (GHG) INVENTORIES
Exploring key issues relevant to local governments:
What support do municipal technical staff need to produce an inventory?
- To get an overview and a better understanding of most main issues that need to be dealt with in a GHG inventory, the Global Protocol for Community-scale GHG Emissions offers an overview of GHGs, boundaries, levels and scopes that need to be considered when dealing with a local community inventory. This offers a good starting point for both municipal technical staff and for political decision-makers, who need to gain an insight into the complexity of the matter.
- The Covenant of Mayors also publishes a useful manual for the development of Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs) and Baseline Emission Inventories (BEIs), with practical guidance for local governments. This is highly recommended for technical staff and people leading the processes within the municipality.
- Financial and staff resources are needed to conduct a BEI and follow up MEIs. This should form part of the annual municipal budget, allocating adequate resources to enable conducting the tasks.
- Municipal technical staff may not have the necessary expertise to conduct a BEI, and may need external assistance – e.g. from consultants and/or Covenant Coordinators and Supporters. Support is available, and may cost a fee depending on who offers support. This could include GHG calculation tools, support with data collection, data input into the calculator, assessing results, reporting to Council, etc..
Selecting the appropriate tool for your community
There are many different tools available to assist with GHG calculations. It is important to select one that reflects your requirements, e.g. ease of use, or rather a comprehensive tool that deals with all GHGs. You need to assess your specific requirements.
- Some are for a specific country (or language) and there are differences in what they calculate (all or specific GHGs, sectoral, etc..). Some only produce a Government Operations Inventory (similar to a corporate inventory, but for the municipal operations and services) and others produce a Community Inventory only but not a separate Government Operations section.
- See www.carbonn.org for a list of reporting entities available in Europe (it is periodically updated), with links to tools also added in the online Toolbox.
Sectors to be included in a local government GHG inventory?
- Sectors used should be appropriate for the normal reporting purposes for your municipality, and should also be easily understood by your residents.
- For example using terminology such as ‘buildings’ and ‘facilities’ and ‘streetlights’ and ‘water supply’ are more understandable than a single group called ‘stationary sources’.
- See the Protocol and SECAP Guidebook for more details about the sectors recommended for your inventory.
Levels and scopes - what are these?
- Levels: refer to the confidence you have in your supply of data.
- Scopes (scope 1, 2 and 3): define whether the emissions are caused directly (for example Scope 1 is gas burnt in our municipality boiler) or caused indirectly (for example Scope 2 is electricity produced in a coal fired power station in another location). Scope 3 emissions are those caused by someone else making things to supply to our community (for example diesel used by trucks that bring us products from outside our municipality). This is described more fully in the Protocol.
How does a GHG inventory connect to municipal processes?
- The GHG inventory should be seen as a standard operational element of the sustainability reporting for your municipality. It should be integrated into your management processes and be audited and published regularly, as expected for the financial or health and safety records or environmental and social statements about your community.