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Inside Carbon: Reduction of actual emissions over paper emissions

A 2020 article on Refining National Greenhouse Gas Inventories opened with, “The importance of greenhouse gas inventories cannot be overstated.” The argument: these inventories inform national strategies to achieve climate goals.

While it may be true that the importance cannot be overstated, the methodologies can certainly be overused. National inventories offer insights into national and international trends over time and comparisons across sectors over the course of one or more years. They are built on national, average, annual emission factors on an equipment and activity factor basis. The inventories are essentially a proxy for an inventory of equipment out in the field - and not a good indicator of emissions from any one (or group of) asset(s).

This means two facilities, sitting side by side could have identical paper emissions while one may be a tightened up facility and the other pumps methane into the air. The actual emissions can be incredibly different. That’s why the key to reducing actual methane is measurement.

Recognizing this, WSJ published an article recently applauding three large companies in their commitment to transition to measurement verified methane emissions via OGMP 2.0 membership.

“Investors won’t give any credit to companies that don’t actually measure and verify their findings via third parties, said Andrew Logan, senior director at Ceres, a nonprofit that works with investors and companies on sustainability that was involved in pairing the frackers with OGMP.”

And on the same day, WSJ published a different article slamming operators’ performance on the basis of US EPA emission factors based inventories. The actual atmosphere needs reduction of actual emissions - not paper emissions, so the message ought not be mixed - focus on the measurement-based data.

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