International Engagement

The atmosphere is a global entity impacting all nations with its warmth. Quantification of carbon is a common thread within any carbon management approach, whether that be based on regulatory or market- based methods or a combination thereof. Consistently accurate quantification methods rely on application of measurement methods with demonstrated performance and correspondence in their results as a means of achieving uniformity. Engagement among parties ranges from UNFCCC/IPCC requirements and structures to those useful for local governments to manage their carbon emissions and private sector involvement in those endeavors. Recent international efforts have seen the development of a new entity that can increase the focus on advancing consistency and accuracy of greenhouse gas measurements.

The Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System (IG3IS) is a component of the WMO’s Global Atmospheric Watch program. IG3IS aims to promote development of evidence-based greenhouse gas emissions information and the methodologies that produce it at quality levels consistent with carbon management quantification needs (GAW-WMO Global Atmospheric Watch, 2019; IG3IS, 2018). With a 50-year history of providing research and information on the atmosphere, particularly atmospheric trace gases, GAW and now its IG3IS component, is a driver for consistency in data and measurement and monitoring methods supporting international engagements under the Paris Agreement. GAW’s archive of GHG measurement, standards, and monitoring method documentation is an important archive of information aimed at improving atmospheric trace gas quantification capabilities.

The UN Environment Program is closely involved with IG3IS because its efforts will further UNEP's global interests in caring for the world’s environment where quantification of process impacting Earth is pror iding universally recognized bases for a wide variety of activities that encompass carbon management. The General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM), established by the Convention of the Metre (French: Convention du Metre, also known as the Treaty of the Metre) in 1875, coordinates measurement standards efforts of the international metrology13 community and the development and use of the International System of Units, the SI. Its efforts establish the international measurements framework utilized by member and non-member governments to act in common accord on all matters relating to units of measurement, a key ingredient in facilitating equity in commerce and regulation (BIPM-WMO, 2002; BIPM/CCQM, 2017). Working across these organizations and the private sector, IG3IS structures, objectives, and methodologies can provide carbon management systems with consistent, and internationally recognized information and measurement methodologies useful in supporting successful implementation of carbon reduction strategies. The meshing of systems to provide consistently accurate information based on internationally recognized methodologies providing quantitative data of undisputed quality is an important element of carbon management implementation.


The natural philosophers and scientists of the late 18th and 19th centuries laid the foundations of our knowledge of the Earth's atmosphere and the potential impacts that the relatively small concentrations of greenhouse gases have upon it. The analysis of Arrhenius, based substantially upon Tyndall’s extensive observations duiing the mid to late 19th century, was the first quantitative analysis of the impact of water vapor and ‘carbonic’, CO„ on atmospheric wanning. In the mid-20th century. Keeling’s measurements of CO, mole fractions propelled the evolution of scientific knowledge and investigation underpinning advances in understanding of the carbon cycle and its impact on atmospheric wanning. Keeling’s close attention to and the development of highly accurate measurements was an important contribution to the development of highly accurate gas mixture standards. These continue to support scientific innovations and carbon management policies and practices. Advances in understanding of the carbon cycle are based on quantifying and measuring greenhouse gas exchanges between the atmosphere and Earth’s surface. As nations individually and collectively move toward managing the emission and uptake of atmospheric carbon, those efforts will substantially benefit from quantitative, evidence-based, and internationally recognized information of sufficient accuracy.

This chapter has discussed some of the measurements and standards systems needed to quantify reductions in greenhouse gas emissions based upon current estimates and statements of reduction requirements forecast for this century. Much of the measurements and standards technology reviewed here is in varying stages of development in anticipation of the need for its use in implementing carbon management practices. Significant measurement science and technology challenges remain alongside those of developing and implementing effective mechanisms to move the results of these investments into practice, thereby providing carbon management system practitioners with access to the quantitative information required for effectiveness and efficiency of management efforts.

l::The scientific study of measurement.


The author thanks Dr. Anna Karion for her many suggestions concerning the creation of this chapter and her critical technical review of it.

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