Greenhouse gases and their relationship to climate change continues to be studied, but the scientific community increasingly believes that human-caused changes to earth's climate are now visible, according to the last United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 1997. Now, a group of Berkeley Lab researchers have begun devising ways to help nations that are trying to reduce their GHG emissions verify that their actions are working.
At least 176 countries have become parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) and agreed to take steps to limit the growth in their emissions of greenhouse gases by adopting the Kyoto Protocol negotiated in December 1997.
"One of the requirements of the protocol is that developed countries must reduce their aggregate emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 5.2% below 1990 levels by the 2008-2012 time period," says Ed Vine, a scientist in the Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division. "With this growth in international activity on climate change, there's a need for reliable and credible ways to verify that projects aimed at GHG reduction actually result in real emissions decreases."
Vine, EETD's Jayant Sathaye, and others have been working on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop guidelines for MERVC—monitoring, evaluation, reporting, verification and certification of energy-efficiency projects for climate change mitigation. The results of their work, published papers describing MERVC guidelines that address some key problems faced by government agencies charged with GHG reduction, will help these entities do a more effective job of making GHG reductions work. Among the problems Vine and Sathaye address are how to estimate the gross and net energy savings, and GHG reduction from energy efficiency measures, and how to apply standardized data collection and analysis methods.
Their work uses the recent U.S. Department of Energy International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP), much of which was developed by EETD researchers Steve Kromer and Satish Kumar.
For three weeks in September 1999, Vine led a training course on the monitoring and evaluation of energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects (for climate change mitigation purposes). A total of 30 participants from 15 countries all over the globe met under the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development to learn about MERVC methods, and develop ways to apply the guidelines to their countries. Many of the attendees were from Ministries of Energy or of the Environment in their home nations. The USAID workshop included talks about the theory and practice of GHG monitoring, computer-based exercises in monitoring and analysis, and field trips to Bay Area sites such as Pacific Gas and Electric's Energy Center in San Francisco, energy-efficient homes in Davis, Altamont Pass wind installations, and the Lab's own energy-efficient buildings. The Institute of International Education assisted in organizing the course.
"This group is one of the best and most exciting that I've ever been privileged to teach," says Kromer, who was one of the instructors. "They were fun to work with, thoughtful, and they asked very challenging questions."
Vine will be leading a similar course in May 2000 at Berkeley Lab, this time on forestry projects for participants countries.
Participating countries in the September workshop included India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Thailand, Senegal, South Africa, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Romania, Slovakia.
Vine and Sathaye's paper, "Guidelines for Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting, Verification, and Certification of Energy Efficiency Projects for Climate Change Mitigation" [LBNL-41543] is available for download (613 KB PDF).
Also see: Vine, E. and J. Sathaye "The Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting, Verification of Change Projects," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 4: 43-60, 1999.