Friday, April 10, 2015

Climate change: The benefits of methodological revisions

When we signed the Kyoto protocol, we agreed to hold our average net greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012 to the same level as gross emissions in 1990. When we nailed down that figure, sometime in the 2000's, it was 61.9 million tons of CO2-equivalent.

But since then, we've changed the way we calculate our inventory. All in accordance with international best practice of course, but conveniently this has reduced our current net emissions against that fixed baseline. In the process, it has also hiked our estimate of 1990 emissions to 66.7 million tons - an increase of about 7%.

Here's where it gets interesting: our government has set itself a 2020 target of a 5% reduction on 1990 levels between 2013 and 2020. And thanks to that baseline readjustment - which hiked 1990 emissions while lowering 2012 ones by ~5 millions tons compared how we calculated them last year, it appears to have scammed itself nearly an extra 10 million tons in the last year alone. Which I guess is why they focus on research on inventory work rather than actually reducing emissions: because it is far more effective at making the numbers look good.