Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation
The Copenhagen climate conference placed the spotlight on measurable, reportable, and verifiable (MRV) reporting mechanisms when China resisted international inspection of its carbon emission inventories. Yet even as they question outside verification of their numbers, China's policymakers recognize the need for reliable data on energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the post-Copenhagen landscape, the newly released GHG accounting protocol of the Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation (iCET) may offer a bridge across the divide.
The Energy and Climate Registry (ECR) "is based on an internationally acceptable, recognizable model," according to iCET's Program Director Yufu Cheng. That model, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol developed by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, has become the basis for the carbon accounting frameworks used by the International Standards Organization, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and The Climate Registry, among others. Through iCET's efforts, the protocol now has been adapted to meet China's needs and conditions.
Carbon accounting brings a nuts-and-bolts approach to greenhouse gas emissions, said iCET Program Manager Lucia Green-Weiskel. As a set of tools, carbon accounting itself is policy-neutral. But when conducted according to a rigorous, consistent, and transparent protocol, it generates data that can be used to craft policy, monitor progress toward goals, or compare enterprises, industrial sectors, or regions. The concept is still relatively new to China but iCET, "as a Chinese organization," Dr. Cheng said, "is well-positioned to introduce it in China."
In developing the ECR, iCET has engaged a wide circle of partners. It collaborated with The Climate Registry, drawing on its experience in creating voluntary registries in North America, and the World Resources Institute, adopting its widely accepted GHG reporting protocol. It earned the support of the Guangdong Development and Reform Commission and the Guangdong Energy Conservation Commission, government entities that are eager to find ways for the province to meet its energy intensity reduction targets. It also has been promoted as a program under the California-Jiangsu Strategic Agreement on Energy and Environment. iCET is reaching out to nongovernmental organizations, to include their stakeholders in the process of expanding the registry. The result is "a tool to create a common standard for measuring and managing supply chain greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage," according to the registry's Web site.
The Energy and Climate Registry will be piloted in Guangdong Province with the support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The focus on Guangdong is apt: it is one of the main engines of China's economy and the base for exporting manufactured goods to the rest of the world. In recruiting members, iCET expects to first bring on board multinational corporations whose supply chain operations extend through the province. Multinational corporations with operations in North America may already be members of registries developed by The Climate Registry, so they can readily see the benefits of adding the ECR to their reporting. Their participation, in turn, will help increase recognition of the registry and attract the participation of domestic companies.