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Opinion - Urgent need to measure and manage greenhouse gases

2021-04-30  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Urgent need to measure and manage greenhouse gases
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 Prof. Moses Amweelo


Climate change is already impacting business and society worldwide. Yet the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are driving global average temperatures upward continue to climb. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that GHG emissions must be reduced 50-85% from 2000 levels by 2050 to limit global warming to 2.0 -2.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and avoid the worst impacts of climate change (IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, 2007). 

A critical first step for both businesses and governments to effectively reduce their emissions is to prepare a GHG inventory. The greenhouse gas protocol led by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), provides the means to this end. 

Therefore, there is a need to develop comprehensive GHG measurement and management standards to reduce emissions and drive more efficient, resilient, and prosperous businesses organisations. 

Greenhouse gases emissions from the 12 countries (Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe) included in the Southern Africa Regional mission are primarily from the energy, land-use change and forestry (LUCF), and agriculture sectors. 

At the regional level, energy is the highest emitting sector (544 MtCO2e), followed by LUCF (255 MtCO2e), then agriculture (166MtCO2e). GHG emissions from waste and industrial processes are relatively insignificant. Agriculture is the highest emitting sector in three countries: Namibia, Lesotho, and Swaziland. 

However, none of the three is among the region’s top agriculture emitters; their agriculture emissions combined constitute only 8% of the region’s total GHG from agriculture. All countries in the region submitted an intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) prior to the UN climate conference (COP 21) that culminated in the Paris Agreement. 

The sectors in which GHG mitigation actions are expected to be achieved are also identified. Namibia unconditional-emissions avoided: unconditionally by Namibia prior to 2011 are included in the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario. This unconditional share will represent about 10% (2,000 Gg CO2e) of the mitigation potential when taking into consideration implemented and planned measures up to 2030. 

Conditional – Reduction of 89% of its GHG emissions (20,000 Gg CO2e inclusive of sequestration in the agriculture forestry and other land use (AFOLU) sector) by around 2030 compared to the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario. The GHG protocol provides the most commonly used international standards and tools to measure and report GHG emissions. 

Developed through a broad and inclusive multi-stakeholder process with the help of hundreds of businesses, government agencies, non-government organizations, (NGOs) and academic institutions around the world, they ensure a credible and consistent approach to emissions accounting. 

To date, the GHG protocol has enabled hundreds of companies and organizations to produce reliable inventories so they can understand where their emissions come from, inform reduction strategies, set performance targets, and report progress to stakeholders. 

“The GHG Protocol provides a framework based on the experiences and learning of corporate managers and facility engineers, which enables data relevant for decision making to ensure comprehensive energy and GHG management” (Ajay Mathur, Advisor, Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, India). 

The GHG Protocol offers a full suite of accounting and reporting standards for business and government. The tools establish a much-needed comprehensive, global, standardised framework for organisations working to manage their corporate, value chain, and product emissions, and to mitigate their climate impacts. 

Since 2005, the GHG Protocol has been working with local partners in key developed and developing countries, to build the capacity of companies and other organisations to measure and report their emissions. In addition, the GHG Protocol is collaborating with a number of global and country GHG programs and climate initiatives to maximise the success of the standards. 

It also has a range of new initiatives underway aimed at supporting national, international, and corporate efforts to measure and manage GHG emissions in key GHG- intensive sector. 

Capacity building is targeted in developing countries and major emerging economies.

2021-04-30  Staff Reporter

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