oversight

Climate Change: Selected Nations' Reports on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Varied in Their Adherence to Standards

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-12-23.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                United States General Accounting Office

GAO             Report to Congressional Requesters




December 2003
                CLIMATE CHANGE
                Selected Nations’
                Reports on
                Greenhouse Gas
                Emissions Varied in
                Their Adherence to
                Standards




GAO-04-98
                a
                                               December 2003


                                               CLIMATE CHANGE

                                               Selected Nations' Reports on Greenhouse
Highlights of GAO-04-98, a report to the
Chairmen, Committee on Energy and
                                               Gas Emissions Varied in Their Adherence
Commerce and its Subcommittees on
Energy and Air Quality and Oversight and
                                               to Standards
Investigations, House of Representatives




In 1992, the United States and other           In their most recent reviews, expert teams found that the United Kingdom’s
parties, including both developed              2000 and 2002 reports on greenhouse gas emissions and the United States’s
and developing nations, agreed to              2000 report were largely complete, although the teams noted minor findings,
try to limit dangerous human                   such as the lack of information on quality assurance methods, which the
interference with the climate by               nations were encouraged, but not required, to include in their submissions.
participating in the United Nations
                                               In contrast, they found that Germany’s 2001 and Japan’s 2000 reports lacked
Framework Convention on Climate
Change. The parties agreed, among              critical elements, such as the required documentation that was essential to
other things, to report on their               understanding them. Preliminary checks found that all four nations’ 2003
emissions of carbon dioxide and                reports were largely complete.
five other gases whose buildup in
the atmosphere is believed to affect           Secretariat staff have not assessed inventories from China and India because
the climate. The parties developed             these nations have not submitted them. According to Secretariat records,
standards for these reports and                China and India plan to submit inventories in February 2004 and November
processes for periodically                     2003, respectively. Secretariat staff assessed Mexico’s most recent
evaluating the reports. Expert                 inventory, but they reported few details about it because their policy is to
teams selected by the parties                  consolidate the findings of all the developing nations’ inventories submitted
review the developed nations’                  during a year.
reports; staff of the Framework
Convention’s administrative arm
(the Secretariat) assess developing            To improve the inventories, the parties are changing the reporting standards
nations’ reports. GAO agreed to                and review process. For example, starting in 2004, developed nations must
describe the results of the most               present their inventory reports in a standardized format to facilitate review,
recent reviews and assessments of              and developing nations must report data for more years and gases than
reports from selected economically             before. Also, in 2003, the parties began conducting more rigorous reviews of
developed and developing nations,              developed nations’ inventories, but no such changes for developing nations
as well as the parties’ plans to               are planned.
improve the reports.
                                               Carbon Dioxide Emissions for the Seven Nations in GAO’s Study, Actual and Projected
For the developed nations, GAO
agreed to study four geographically
dispersed nations with high levels
of emissions—Germany, Japan, the
United Kingdom, and the United
States. For the developing nations,
GAO studied China, India, and
Mexico, which also have high
emissions levels and are
geographically dispersed. These
nations are not representative of
others; therefore, GAO’s findings
cannot be generalized.



www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-98.

To view the full report, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact John
Stephenson, 202-512-3841 or
stephensonj@gao.gov.
Contents



Letter                                                                                                  1
                            Results in Brief                                                            4
                            Background                                                                  6
                            Recent Reviews Found That U.K. and U.S. Inventories Were Largely
                               Complete, but German and Japanese Inventories Lacked Critical
                               Elements                                                                14
                            Little Nation-Specific Inventory Information Is Available for the
                               Three Developing Nations                                                15
                            The Four Developed Nations Reported Generally High Confidence
                               in Their Latest Emissions Data, but Future Assessments of
                               Confidence Must Be More Precise                                         17
                            The Parties Are Taking Steps to Improve the Quality of Emissions
                               Data                                                                    21
                            Scope and Methodology                                                      23
                            Agency Comments                                                            24


Appendixes
             Appendix I:    Results of Expert Reviews of the Four Developed Nations’
                            Inventories                                                                26
             Appendix II:   GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments                                     29
                            GAO Contacts                                                               29
                            Staff Acknowledgments                                                      29


Tables                      Table 1: Comparative Statistics of the Seven Nations in Our Study           9
                            Table 2: Four Developed Nations’ Ratings of Confidence in Their
                                     Data for Total Emissions in 2001                                  19
                            Table 3: Results of the Most Recent Expert Reviews of the Four
                                     Developed Nations’ Inventories                                    27


Figures                     Figure 1: Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Developed and Developing
                                      Nations and Nations with Economies in Transition, 1970
                                      through 2025, Actual and Projected                                7
                            Figure 2: Carbon Dioxide Emissions for the Seven Nations in Our
                                      Study, Actual and Projected                                       8




                            Page i                              GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
Contents




Abbreviations

EIA          Energy Information Administration
EPA          Environmental Protection Agency
IPCC         Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


 This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
 United States. It may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further
 permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain copyrighted images or
 other material, permission from the copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to
 reproduce this material separately.




Page ii                                     GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
A
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548



                                    December 23, 2003                                                                                Leter




                                    The Honorable W.J. “Billy” Tauzin
                                    Chairman, Committee on Energy and Commerce
                                    House of Representatives

                                    The Honorable Joe Barton
                                    Chairman, Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality
                                    Committee on Energy and Commerce
                                    House of Representatives

                                    The Honorable James Greenwood
                                    Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
                                    Committee on Energy and Commerce
                                    House of Representatives

                                    The Congress recently debated the need to limit U.S. emissions of the so-
                                    called “greenhouse gases”—whose buildup in the atmosphere is widely
                                    believed to adversely affect the climate. This debate dates back to at least
                                    1992, when the United States and most of the other nations of the world
                                    took steps toward ensuring that worldwide progress in reducing
                                    greenhouse gas emissions could eventually be measured. At that time, the
                                    nations negotiated the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
                                    Change (hereafter called the Framework Convention) with the aim of
                                    stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and five other
                                    greenhouse gases.1 The nations also agreed to periodically report on their
                                    greenhouse gas emissions.2




                                    1
                                     The five other gases are methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons,
                                    and sulfur dioxide.
                                    2
                                     In 1997, the United States and other parties to the Framework Convention participated in
                                    drafting the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to specifically limit emissions of the
                                    six greenhouse gases, and in 1998 the United States signed the protocol. However, President
                                    Clinton did not submit the protocol to the Senate for advice and consent, which are
                                    necessary for ratification. In March 2001, President Bush announced that he opposed the
                                    protocol.




                                    Page 1                                        GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
As of November 2003, 188 parties had ratified the Framework Convention,
including the United States.3 Of this total, 40 parties—39 nations and the
European Union as a whole—are listed in Annex I of the convention. The
39 Annex I nations include the economically developed nations of the
world as well as nations whose economies are in transition, including the
Russian Federation, the Baltic states, and several central and eastern
European nations. The Annex I nations have agreed to report annually on
their emissions levels. The annual reports, called inventories, generally
reflect estimated—rather than directly measured—data. The remaining 148
nations that are party to the Framework Convention but are not included in
Annex I—“non-Annex I nations”—are generally classified as economically
developing nations. These nations also agreed to report on their emissions,
but in less detail and less frequently than the Annex I nations.

Recognizing that good-quality data on all nations’ greenhouse gas
emissions are critical to determining whether the Framework Convention
is successful at stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, the parties
to the convention are working in several ways to ensure the quality of the
emissions data that nations report. First, with technical assistance from the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),4 the parties developed
extensive procedures for all nations to follow when estimating and
reporting their greenhouse gas emissions and removals (removals offset
emissions—for example, forests absorb carbon dioxide, removing it from
the air). In addition, the developed Annex I nations agreed to provide funds
to help the non-Annex I nations develop their inventories. Finally, the
parties agreed that nations’ estimates of their emissions, and the
documentation that supports these estimates, would undergo one of two
main types of review: one for Annex I nations and another for non-Annex I
nations. Annex I nations’ inventories periodically undergo individual
reviews performed by teams of experts assembled from the party nations.
The expert reviews are extensive, examining all aspects of each inventory
and its preparation to determine whether the inventory complied with the
estimating and reporting procedures. The Framework Convention’s


3
 We use the term “ratified” to indicate that nations have ratified, accepted, approved, or
acceded to the Framework Convention. The convention entered into force after it was
ratified by 50 nations.
4
 Established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment
Program in 1988, the IPCC supports the parties by providing scientific, technical, and
socioeconomic advice through periodic assessments and special publications, such as the
guidelines it developed on estimating emissions and removals.




Page 2                                        GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
administrative arm, the Secretariat, publishes a report on the findings of
each nation’s individual expert review. Non-Annex I nations’ inventories are
assessed by Secretariat staff, who examine all such inventories submitted
during the year. The assessment is less extensive and evaluative than the
review of Annex I nations’ submissions. It focuses on identifying problems
that the developing nations have had with preparing and reporting their
inventories and ways to improve them. The Secretariat issues one report
each year discussing its findings on the non-Annex I nations’ inventories in
summary format, with few nation-specific details.

We agreed with your offices to (1) describe the results of the most recent
expert reviews of the greenhouse gas inventories submitted by four
economically developed nations—Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom,
and the United States; (2) describe the results of any assessments of the
inventories of three developing nations—China, India, and Mexico; (3)
determine the extent to which the developed nations have confidence in
the quality of their inventory data, and describe any changes that the
parties to the Framework Convention have made to requirements for
assessing data confidence in the future; and (4) describe any steps that the
parties to the Framework Convention are taking as a group to improve the
quality of future inventories, including when such improvements might be
in place.

Also as agreed with your offices, in examining these issues, we did not
independently review the nations’ inventories to assess their quality.
Instead, we examined the guidance developed for the nations and the
requirements they are to meet in preparing and reporting their greenhouse
gas inventories and believe the guidance provides reasonable parameters
for ensuring good-quality inventory data. We also examined the
methodology for the reviews of developed nations’ inventories and believe
it provides reasonable help to reviewers in evaluating the quality of
inventories. We relied on the findings of the reviews as reported by the
Secretariat. Regarding the Annex I nations, we agreed to study the two
European Union nations and the two non-European Union nations with the
highest levels of emissions that are developed nations, according to the
most recent data available to the United Nations (2001). Although some
nations that are considered Annex I nations have economies in transition
and emit significant levels of greenhouse gases, as agreed, we did not
include them in our study. Regarding the non-Annex I nations—developing
nations—we agreed to study China, India, and Mexico because of their high
levels of greenhouse gas emissions and geographic dispersion. These seven
nations are not necessarily representative of other parties to the



Page 3                               GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
                   Framework Convention; accordingly, our findings are not generalizable to
                   the other parties. Although we spoke with U.S. officials who are
                   responsible for assembling and managing the U.S. inventory, we did not
                   speak with comparable officials in the other six nations. It is our policy to
                   contact foreign government officials through the U.S. Department of State,
                   and we asked the department to facilitate that contact; however, the
                   department did not arrange for those contacts during our review. State
                   Department officials asserted that issues of reporting and review under the
                   Framework Convention have been particularly sensitive for the developing
                   nations; also, foreign governments might not readily grasp the different
                   roles of the General Accounting Office and the State Department. As a
                   result, according to State Department officials, some governments might
                   view a request of this nature from the United States as intrusive, raising
                   suspicions about the underlying purpose of such a study.



Results in Brief   The most recent expert reviews of the greenhouse gas inventories
                   submitted by Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States
                   found that the U.K. and U.S. submissions were largely complete, while
                   Germany’s and Japan’s submissions lacked certain critical elements. At the
                   time of our study, the most recent expert reviews were for inventories
                   submitted by Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States in 2000; by
                   Germany in 2001; and by the United Kingdom in 2002. The reviews of the
                   U.K. and U.S. inventories found they contained nearly all of the required
                   information and noted only relatively minor problems, such as not
                   providing information on the quality assurance procedures used.
                   Accordingly, the experts’ suggestions for improving those submissions
                   were not substantial; for example, the expert review report for the 2000
                   U.K. submission suggested that the United Kingdom archive all of the
                   documentation supporting its inventory in one location or on the Web. In
                   contrast, the reviews of Germany’s and Japan’s inventories found that both
                   were missing some important elements. For example, both submissions
                   lacked the required report explaining how the emissions estimates were
                   developed. The experts suggested fundamental improvements for future
                   inventories, such as submitting all of the required information. The
                   Secretariat’s preliminary examination of all four nations’ 2003 submissions
                   found that they were largely complete and contained national inventory
                   reports.

                   Neither China nor India has submitted an inventory to the Secretariat;
                   Mexico submitted an inventory as recently as 2001, which the Secretariat
                   assessed. According to the Secretariat, China and India are preparing their



                   Page 4                                GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
initial inventories, which, under the Framework Convention, are due within
3 years of when the convention entered into force for that nation or when
the financial assistance provided by the developed nations to help with
reporting becomes available. According to the Secretariat, China’s
inventory is due by November 2004 and India’s by July 2004. Regarding the
Secretariat’s assessment of Mexico’s 2001 submission, little information
that could be directly tied to Mexico was released. Instead, the Secretariat
consolidated the results with those of the 51 other non-Annex I nations that
it examined at the same time, as is its usual practice for the assessments.

The four developed nations reported generally high confidence in the
emissions data presented in their most recent submissions; however, future
assessments of confidence in these data must be quantified to produce
more useful information. For the 2003 and previous submissions,
developed nations were required to assess as high, medium, or low their
confidence in their inventory data for each major emission source and
removal. The developed nations could use either qualitative or quantitative
methods for making those assessments, and no criteria existed for
determining which of the three categories was the most appropriate. In
their 2003 submissions, all four developed nations reported that they had
high confidence in at least 75 percent of their total emissions data, largely
because most emissions are carbon dioxide, which is relatively easy to
estimate with a high degree of accuracy. Effective next year, the developed
nations are required to assess their confidence in their data using
quantitative methods and to report numerical ratings instead of reporting
by the three categories (high, medium, or low). The parties consider using
quantitative methods to be the better practice because the resulting
numerical ratings give a more precise assessment of nations’ confidence in
their data and make it easier for the nations to set priorities when deciding
how to improve the accuracy of the inventories.

To improve the quality of data on greenhouse gas emissions, the parties to
the Framework Convention are refining their requirements for nations’
inventories and bolstering their review processes, with the changes to take
effect over the next few years. Changes to the inventory requirements
affect both Annex I and non-Annex I nations. For example, in addition to
the new requirement for performing a quantified assessment of data
confidence, Annex I nations will be required to structure the
documentation that explains the inventories according to a standardized
format beginning with their 2004 submissions. For non-Annex I nations, the
revised requirements are intended to encourage more of the nations to
submit inventories as well as to improve the quality of the inventories. For



Page 5                                GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
             example, as of 2003, non-Annex I nations that have not yet submitted their
             first inventories must submit data for either 1990 or 1994 in their first
             submissions, and all non-Annex I nations must include data for 2000 when
             they submit their second inventories. This is in contrast to the requirement
             that Annex I nations annually report data for all years, from 1990 to the
             present. In addition, the parties plan to bolster the expert review process
             for Annex I nations. For example, until this year, only a portion of the 39
             Annex I nations underwent an expert review each year; however, beginning
             with the 2003 submissions, each of the 39 nations will be subject to an
             annual expert review. The changes to the review process are intended to
             standardize it and to ensure that reviews are conducted effectively and
             consistently. According to the Secretariat, the parties have no plans to
             change the assessment process for non-Annex I nations’ inventories, but
             the new reporting guidance for non-Annex I nations is designed to facilitate
             any assessment process changes that the parties might institute in the
             future.

             The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for
             preparing the U.S. submission, provided clarifying comments on a draft of
             this report, which we incorporated as appropriate. We also requested
             comments from the State Department and the Framework Convention
             Secretariat, but none were provided.



Background   Scientists have discovered that changes in the earth’s climate are induced
             by the increasing concentrations of certain gases in the earth’s
             atmosphere—some naturally occurring, others human-induced—that have
             the potential to significantly alter the planet’s heat and radiation balance.
             These so-called “greenhouse gases” trap some of the sun’s energy and
             prevent it from returning to space. The trapped energy warms the earth’s
             climate, much like glass in a greenhouse. Over the past century, humans
             have contributed to the greenhouse effect, particularly by burning fossil
             fuels, which increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
             gases. The effects of a warmer climate could have important consequences
             for human health and welfare by, among other things, altering weather
             patterns, changing crop yields, and leading to the flooding of coastal areas.

             According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information
             Administration (EIA), in 2001, the most recent year for which data are
             available, the United States and other developed nations accounted for just
             under half (47 percent) of the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide—the
             most prevalent greenhouse gas. The other emissions came from



             Page 6                                GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
economically developing nations, including China, India, and Mexico (40
percent), and from nations with economies in transition (13 percent) in
Europe and the Former Soviet Union. EIA projects that, over the next 2
decades, carbon dioxide emissions from each of the three nation groups
will increase; however, carbon dioxide emissions from developing nations
will increase most dramatically, surpassing those of developed nations by
2015, as shown in figure 1.



Figure 1: Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Developed and Developing Nations and
Nations with Economies in Transition, 1970 through 2025, Actual and Projected
Million metric tons

          Actual                                                          Projected
5,000




4,000




3,000




2,000




1,000




    0
         1970       1975      1980       1985     1990       1995     2000    2005    2010   2015   2020   2025
         Year

                     Developed nations
                     Developing nations
                     Nations with economies in transition

Source: GAO analysis of Energy Information Administration data.


Note: The Energy Information Administration includes data on Croatia’s and Slovenia’s emissions with
those of the developed nations, rather than with emissions data from the other nations with economies
in transition.




Page 7                                                            GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
More specifically, figure 2 shows actual and projected carbon dioxide
emissions for the seven nations in our study. Growth in emissions between
2001 and 2025 is projected to range from 29 million metric tons for the
United Kingdom to 1,012 for China.



Figure 2: Carbon Dioxide Emissions for the Seven Nations in Our Study, Actual and
Projected




The seven nations in our study also differ greatly in terms of their
population and per capita income (an indicator of economic development).
For example, population ranged from about 60 million in the United
Kingdom to nearly 1.3 billion in China, and per capita income ranged from
$2,540 in India to $36,300 in the United States. (See table 1.)




Page 8                                  GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
Table 1: Comparative Statistics of the Seven Nations in Our Study

                                                     Estimated population,                Per capita income,
Nation                                                      2002 (millions)                     2001 or 2002
Economically developed nations
Germany                                                                      83.3             $26,600 (2002)
Japan                                                                       127.0               28,000 (2002)
United Kingdom                                                               60.0               25,300 (2002)
United States                                                               281.0               36,300 (2001)
Economically developing nations
China                                                                     1,284.3                4,600 (2002)
India                                                                     1,045.8                2,540 (2002)
Mexico                                                                      103.4                9,000 (2001)
Source: Central Intelligence Agency, The World Fact Book (2002).

Notes:
Some figures have been rounded.
Estimated per capita income is based on purchasing power parity rates. Purchasing power parity is
based on the assumption that a unit of currency, such as a dollar, should be able to buy the same
bundle of goods in all countries.




Page 9                                                             GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
Under the Framework Convention, the United States and the other parties
generally agreed to implement policies and measures aimed at returning
“individually or jointly to their 1990 levels these anthropogenic [human-
caused] emissions” of greenhouse gases not covered by another treaty, the
Montreal Protocol.5 The six primary gases covered by the Framework
Convention are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and three
synthetic gases—sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, and
perfluorocarbons. Emissions of these gases are generally not measured
because doing so would be too costly; consequently, they must be
estimated.6 In this regard, the IPCC, at the parties’ request, developed
detailed guidance on methodologies for nations to use when estimating
their emissions and revised that guidance twice, most recently in 1999.
Both developed and developing nations are required to follow this
guidance—Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas
Inventories—when preparing their inventories. In addition, in 2000, the
IPCC published—also at the parties’ request—its Good Practice Guidance
and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories,
which contains information on prioritizing tasks to arrive at the best
possible estimates using finite resources as well as advice on establishing
quality assurance programs, among other things. The nations have been
encouraged, but not required, to follow the good practice guidance.




5
 The Montreal Protocol, ratified by the United States in 1988, aims to reduce the use of
substances that deplete stratospheric ozone. Among these substances are
chlorofluorocarbons, which are also potent greenhouse gases.
6
 According to EPA officials, because of the way carbon dioxide emissions are estimated, the
results are as accurate as they would be if they were measured.




Page 10                                       GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
The parties to the Framework Convention also agreed to report
periodically to the Secretariat on their levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
For Annex I nations, those reports are extensive. Annually, each Annex I
nation is required to submit inventory data—in a common reporting format
the parties themselves agreed to—as well as a national inventory report
that explains how the data in the common reporting format were derived.
The common reporting format calls for data for each of the six emissions
sectors—energy, industrial processes, solvent and other product use,
agriculture, land-use change and forestry, and waste—as well as for the
data on the major sources that contribute to emissions from each sector.
The inventory data are to reflect a nation’s most recent reporting year as
well as all previous years back to the base year, which is 1990.7 For each
year, the common reporting format calls for 42 tables containing over 8,100
items that are sector-specific numbers; data summarized across sectors;
and other information, such as trends from the base year to the current
reporting year, recalculations of prior years’ data, and reasons certain
emissions were not estimated. The parties require that data be submitted
in the common reporting format to facilitate comparison across nations
and to make it easier to review the data. Because an inventory contains
data from the base year to the most recent reporting year, each year’s
submission is larger than the last. The 2003 reporting format called for
approximately 98,000 items of inventory data and other information from
1990 through 2001.

The national inventory report, the second component of the submission,
should be detailed and complete enough to enable reviewers to understand
and evaluate the inventory. The report should include, among other things,
descriptions of the methods used to estimate the data, the rationale for
selecting the methods used, and information about the complexity of
methods and the resulting precision of the estimates; information on
quality assurance procedures used; discussion of any recalculations
affecting previously submitted inventory data; and information on
improvements planned for future inventories.

Each year, when Secretariat staff receive Annex I nations’ submissions,
they perform an initial check to determine whether the submissions are
complete and then synthesize the information to facilitate comparison
across nations. Teams of expert reviewers—comprising members chosen


7
 Five Annex I nations with economies in transition—Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania,
and Slovenia—are allowed to use other years as baselines.




Page 11                                    GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
by the parties for their sector expertise as well as to achieve broad
geographic representation—also use this synthesized information to
identify issues requiring clarification during their reviews of individual
submissions.

From 2000 through 2002, the parties tested the usefulness of three methods
of conducting expert reviews on selected submissions from Annex I
nations. The first type of review, called a desk review, consists of about 10
experts spending about 4 weeks in their respective nations reviewing
information on the same three nations’ inventories. For this type of review,
the experts communicate with each other and the nation being reviewed
via the Internet and telephone. The second type of review, called a
centralized review, involves about 10 experts spending about a week at the
Secretariat’s headquarters in Bonn, Germany, jointly reviewing between
four and six nations’ inventories. The third review type, called an in-
country review, consists of a team of about 5 experts spending a week in
the nation whose inventory is being reviewed, jointly examining the
nation’s inventory and supporting information. The Secretariat chose
inventories of different levels of completeness to undergo desk and
centralized reviews; only nations that volunteered for an in-country review
received one.

During the 3-year test period, the experts examined the data and
supporting information the nations used to prepare the inventories via all
three types of reviews. For example, the experts determined whether a
nation calculated its emissions estimates using formulas from published
data sources or formulas specified by the parties. The experts also verified
the information provided in response to questions raised in previous
reviews. Finally, the experts summarized the inventories' strengths and
weaknesses; made recommendations for improvement, if warranted; and
presented their findings in reports that were both published and posted on
the Internet.

For Annex I nations’ submissions to be reviewed by the experts, the
submissions must meet two criteria. Since 2000, the experts have reviewed
only submissions that presented their data in the common reporting
format, and, beginning with the 2003 submissions, the experts will review
only submissions that include the national inventory report. According to
the parties to the Framework Convention, the goal of the expert reviews is
to identify areas in the inventories needing improvement; for this reason,
the experts’ reports do not rate the overall quality of the submissions, and
the reports do not identify some findings as being more important than



Page 12                                GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
others. According to the Secretariat, since 1998, Annex I nations’
submissions have steadily and substantially improved in their timeliness
and completeness, and the expert review process has contributed to the
improved quality of recent submissions.

Non-Annex I nations’ requirements for format and frequency of reporting
differ from those for Annex I nations. Although all parties to the
Framework Convention are to develop their inventories using the revised
1996 IPCC guidelines and submit the inventories to the Secretariat, non-
Annex I nations’ inventories are not stand-alone documents. Rather, a non-
Annex I nation’s inventory is a component of its national communication,
which is a report it must submit to the Secretariat that discusses all of the
steps the nation is taking or plans to take to implement the Framework
Convention.8 In addition, non-Annex I nations are not required to use the
common reporting format or to submit a national inventory report.
Moreover, non-Annex I nations are not required to submit an inventory
each year but may instead negotiate the frequency of their submissions. To
date, most non-Annex I nations negotiated a deadline for only one
inventory.9 To help the non-Annex I nations develop and report their
inventories, the developed nations of Annex I provide financial assistance
that is disbursed through the convention’s financial mechanism, the Global
Environment Facility. The facility, which funds various types of
environmental projects in developing nations,10 disburses the funds,
including those to assist non-Annex I nations with their emissions
reporting, through implementing agencies, such as the United Nations
Development Program. The implementing agencies, in turn, disburse the
funds to the nations on a schedule and according to terms negotiated by the
agency and each nation.




8
 Annex I nations also submit national communications discussing their efforts to implement
the Framework Convention in addition to submitting stand-alone inventories, but the format
and frequency of the national communications are different for Annex I and non-Annex I
nations.
9
 According to the EPA official who managed the 2003 U.S. inventory, the parties to the
Framework Convention plan to discuss increasing the frequency of non-Annex I nations’
inventory reporting during the next conference of the parties in December 2003.
10
 In addition to funding climate change projects, the Global Environment Facility also funds
projects related to biodiversity, international waters, land degradation, ozone depletion, and
persistent organic pollutants.




Page 13                                       GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
                        The inventory reviews and the extent to which the results are reported also
                        differ for Annex I and non-Annex I nations. Reviews of Annex I nations’
                        submissions focus on compliance with reporting standards, and the results
                        are made publicly available in considerable detail. In contrast, because
                        non-Annex I nations are generally in the early stages of developing their
                        inventories and have limited resources to do so, assessments of their
                        submissions, and the resulting reports, focus largely on providing a forum
                        for the non-Annex I nations to exchange information on common reporting
                        problems and best practices. Consequently, while the Secretariat makes
                        reports on the results of non-Annex I assessments publicly available, it
                        does so in summary format and provides only a few nation-specific details
                        in tables that accompany the aggregated reports.



Recent Reviews Found    The most recent expert reviews of inventories submitted by the four
                        developed nations found that the U.K. and U.S. inventories contained most
That U.K. and U.S.      of the required elements, but the German and Japanese inventories were
Inventories Were        missing certain critical elements. Experts reviewed inventories variously
                        submitted from 2000 through 2002 by each of the four developed nations in
Largely Complete, but   our study. The inventories submitted by Japan and Germany in 2000 and
German and Japanese     2001, respectively, each received a centralized review. Two U.K. inventories
Inventories Lacked      were reviewed: the one submitted in 2000 received an in-country review,
                        and the one submitted in 2002 received a desk review. The inventory that
Critical Elements       the United States submitted in 2000 received both an in-country review and
                        a desk review. Although the experts planned to conduct reviews of all
                        Annex I nations’ inventories submitted in 2003, no results were available at
                        the time of our study.

                        The reviews of the submissions of the United Kingdom and the United
                        States found they were largely complete and noted only relatively minor
                        problems. For example, the reviews of the two nations’ 2000 submissions
                        noted that neither submission included information on quality assurance
                        procedures. Although the good practice guidance calls for including such
                        information in the national inventory report, the nations were encouraged,
                        but not required, to follow the good practice guidance for the 2000
                        submissions. Nonetheless, the experts included the lack of quality
                        assurance documentation as a finding of the reviews. Because the
                        problems noted were relatively minor, the suggestions for improving future
                        submissions constituted refinements rather than recommendations for
                        large-scale changes. For example, the experts’ report on the 2000 U.K.
                        submission suggested archiving the documentation supporting the national
                        inventory report in one location or on the Web. Similarly, the report on the



                        Page 14                              GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
                         desk review of the 2000 U.S. submission suggested that more details on the
                         methods and factors used to estimate emissions for the land-use change
                         and forestry sector would allow more complete assessment of that sector’s
                         data.

                         In contrast, the reviews of the German and Japanese submissions found
                         them to be missing some critical components, and the experts’ reports
                         made suggestions for improvement that were fundamental in nature. For
                         example, the review of Germany’s 2001 submission found it contained only
                         summary-level and trend data; it did not include any of the sector-specific
                         data tables or recalculations of prior years’ data called for by the common
                         reporting format. Furthermore, the national inventory report was missing,
                         so the reviewers could not determine whether problems noted in previous
                         inventories had been addressed. Although the review of the Japanese 2000
                         submission found most of the data required by the common reporting
                         format was included, like the German submission, this one lacked the
                         national inventory report. As a result of these shortcomings, the experts
                         suggested that Germany submit a complete set of data for all of the
                         required years and sectors and that both nations submit the national
                         inventory report. Additional details on the findings of the six expert
                         reviews are contained in appendix I.

                         Although none of the four Annex I nations’ latest submissions—for 2003—
                         had undergone an expert review as of November 2003, Secretariat staff had
                         performed initial completeness checks on each of them. They found that all
                         four nations’ submissions contained most of the required data as well as
                         the required national inventory reports.



Little Nation-Specific   The Secretariat has not assessed any inventories from China and India
                         because, as of November 2003, neither nation had submitted one. The
Inventory Information    Secretariat assessed Mexico’s 2001 submission, but the Secretariat’s
Is Available for the     practice is to issue one report on the findings of its assessments of all the
                         inventories submitted during the year, with few nation-specific details.
Three Developing         Therefore, the Secretariat made public little information about the results
Nations                  of its assessments that could be directly tied to Mexico.

                         According to the Secretariat, China and India are preparing their initial
                         inventories, to be submitted as part of their first national communications.
                         Under article 12, paragraph 5, of the Framework Convention, non-Annex I
                         nations’ first inventories are due to the Secretariat “within three years of
                         the entry into force of the Framework Convention or of the availability of



                         Page 15                               GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
financial resources” from the developed nations in Annex I. According to
the Secretariat, funding was approved for China in May 2000 and for India
in December 1999, and the first disbursements of funds took place in
November 2001 for China and in July 2001 for India. According to the
Secretariat, the due dates for their first greenhouse gas inventories are no
later than November 2004 for China and July 2004 for India.

Mexico submitted inventories in 1997 and 2001. Although 106 developing
nations had submitted their initial inventories as of November 2003,
Mexico is the only nation to have submitted more than one. Secretariat
staff assessed Mexico’s 2001 inventory, along with those of 51 other non-
Annex I nations that submitted inventories that year. In keeping with its
practice of reporting on its assessments of non-Annex I nations’ inventories
as a group, the report for 2001 contained only limited details that could be
linked specifically to Mexico’s inventory. In particular, the Secretariat
reported that Mexico had improved its estimates of emissions from the
energy, agriculture, and land-use change and forestry sectors. It also
reported that Mexico could further improve its inventory by establishing
systematic procedures for preparing the inventory annually and by
including estimates for the solvent-use sector. Otherwise, the Secretariat
reported only generally on the results of the assessments of submissions of
the 52 non-Annex I nations’ inventories.

Mexico’s 2001 submission contained estimates for 1994, 1996, and 1998.
According to an EPA official who is knowledgeable about Mexico’s
inventory, the 2001 Mexico inventory is of reasonably high quality,
especially considering the limited resources Mexico has dedicated to
developing it. According to its submission, Mexico followed the IPCC
estimating guidelines and good practice guidance in preparing the
inventory. The EPA official further commented that Mexico’s 2001
submission is among the best of those of the developing nations, and in
some cases—for example, in presentation of its carbon dioxide emissions
data—is equal to those of some developed nations. On the other hand,
according to that official, Mexico did not (1) comply with the IPCC
estimating guidelines in developing the land-use change and forestry sector
data, (2) adequately estimate data for the three synthetic gases, or (3)
provide adequate documentation explaining the inventory. Furthermore,
Mexico developed its two inventories independent of each other, without
establishing a process that would systematically make documentation and
data additions and revisions as needed. Consequently, in the opinion of the
EPA official, it was difficult for Mexico to build upon its previous efforts
when preparing its second inventory.



Page 16                               GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
The Four Developed       As required for the 2003 submissions, the four developed nations
                         categorized their confidence in their emissions data as either high, medium,
Nations Reported         or low. All four nations reported their confidence in the data as generally
Generally High           high. To improve the usefulness of nations’ assessments of data confidence,
                         however, beginning with the 2004 submissions, developed nations must
Confidence in Their      quantify their confidence assessments.
Latest Emissions Data,
but Future
Assessments of
Confidence Must Be
More Precise




                         Page 17                              GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
The Four Developed         As previously explained, the parties to the Framework Convention have
Nations Rated Their        constructed an extensive system of estimating and reporting requirements,
                           buttressed by periodic reviews, to help nations produce inventory data that
Confidence in Their Most   are of high quality. The parties do not attempt, on the basis of the reviews
Recent Emissions Data as   or any other means, to assign a grade or otherwise rate any nation’s success
Generally High             in producing high-quality data. However, as one means of helping
                           developed nations identify areas where their data can be strengthened, the
                           parties require each nation to assess its confidence in the accuracy of its
                           own data. Specifically, the nations are required annually to analyze the
                           quality of the data they report (called an uncertainty analysis) for each gas
                           and for each major source of emissions and removals in each of the six
                           sectors. To do this, the nations have been encouraged, but not required, to
                           use the quantitative methods of uncertainty analysis included in the IPCC
                           good practice guidance. Alternatively, they could rely on qualitative means
                           to determine their confidence in these data. In either case, they have been
                           required to report whether they had high, medium, or low confidence in
                           each estimate of emissions of each of the six gases by each major source of
                           those emissions. The nations have not been required to report on their
                           confidence in the accuracy of the inventory data as a whole. The parties did
                           not provide further criteria for nations to use when determining which of
                           the three categories was most appropriate.11




                           11
                             According to EPA officials, the confidence a nation has in the accuracy of its inventory
                           depends on the predominant sources of its emissions, as well as on the completeness of the
                           inventory and the quality of the methods it uses to estimate emissions. For example, a
                           nation such as New Zealand, whose greenhouse gas emissions’ sources are predominantly
                           in the agriculture and land-use change and forestry sectors, may have lower confidence in
                           the accuracy of its inventory data as a whole than a nation such as the United States, whose
                           emissions originate predominantly from the energy sector, even though both nations might
                           be using state-of-the-art estimation methods. This is because emissions estimates from the
                           agriculture and land-use change and forestry sectors are inherently less accurate than those
                           originating from fossil fuels that produce energy.




                           Page 18                                      GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
                                                                   As required, all four developed nations reported high, medium, or low
                                                                   ratings of confidence in their estimates for their 2001 emissions by source.
                                                                   To determine the confidence each nation had in its inventory data as a
                                                                   whole, we calculated the proportion of each nation’s data that
                                                                   corresponded to each of the three rating categories. According to our
                                                                   calculations, all four nations rated their confidence in their inventory data
                                                                   as a whole as generally high, with the high-confidence ratings ranging from
                                                                   about 75 percent for the United States to about 96 percent for Japan. The
                                                                   high-confidence ratings occurred largely because the lion’s share of each
                                                                   nation’s total emissions is carbon dioxide from fuel combustion, which can
                                                                   be estimated with a relatively high level of confidence. Table 2 shows each
                                                                   nation’s ratings for total emissions by gigagrams of carbon dioxide
                                                                   equivalent, which is the unit of measurement used by the parties to the
                                                                   Framework Convention to allow comparisons among greenhouse gases,
                                                                   which differ in their effects on the atmosphere and expected lifetimes.



Table 2: Four Developed Nations’ Ratings of Confidence in Their Data for Total Emissions in 2001

Gigagrams of carbon dioxide equivalent
                                                             Developed nations’ ratings of confidence for total emissions
                                                                          Amount
                           Amount               Percentage                  rated            Percentage           Amount        Percentage     Amount         Percentage
Nation                   rated high              rated high               medium          rated medium           rated low        rated low   not rated         not rated
Germany                      948,175                       93.1             59,054                         5.8      7,982               0.8       3,817                 0.4
Japan                     1,244,048                        95.7             20,056                         1.5     35,326               2.7          15                      0a
United
Kingdom                      561,274                       82.9             53,907                         8.0     62,036               9.2          12                      0a
United
States                    5,670,596                        72.9         1,462,157                        18.8     567,775               7.3     73,816                  1.0
Source: GAO analysis of data from the four nations’ 2003 submissions to the Framework Convention Secretariat.

                                                                   Notes:
                                                                   Percentages do not total to 100 because of rounding.
                                                                   In compiling this table, to fully report the nations’ ratings for the six gases, we added the amount of
                                                                   removals to the amount of gross emissions; consequently, the data in the table do not match the net
                                                                   emissions reported by the nations.
                                                                   a
                                                                    Percentage is less than .005 and rounds to 0.


                                                                   Although the national inventory reports contained some information about
                                                                   the nations’ confidence in their data, none of the nations explained the
                                                                   criteria they used to determine the high-, medium-, and low-confidence
                                                                   ratings they reported.



                                                                   Page 19                                                   GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
Developed Nations Must        In November 2002, the parties decided to require developed nations to use
Use Quantitative Methods to   the quantitative methods in the IPCC good practice guidance to develop
                              estimates of data uncertainty beginning with the 2004 submissions. Instead
Assess Their Confidence in    of designating high, medium, or low ratings of confidence, under the new
Their Data in 2004            requirements, developed nations must quantify their uncertainty in their
                              emissions estimates for each gas by each major source using 95 percent
                              confidence levels. In addition, they must combine the source uncertainty
                              estimates into a quantified uncertainty estimate for the inventory as a
                              whole and estimate the uncertainty in the trend between the base year and
                              the most recent year.

                              The IPCC good practice guidance provides detailed instructions for nations
                              to follow to produce the quantitative estimates of data uncertainty. The
                              guidance also describes two methods for combining quantitative
                              uncertainty estimates—one consisting of relatively simple statistical
                              calculations that result in a numerical uncertainty estimate, and the other
                              using computer simulation to calculate the estimates. The computer
                              simulation is a more sophisticated method and should result in more
                              accurate estimates; however, according to the EPA official responsible for
                              compiling the U.S. inventory, the computer simulation also is more costly
                              than the simpler method. Because of this, the good practice guidance states
                              that the nations must use the simpler of the two methods to produce their
                              combined uncertainty estimates; in addition, they are encouraged to use
                              the more sophisticated method when sufficient resources and expertise are
                              available.

                              For example, in its 2003 inventory submission, the United Kingdom used
                              both methods from the good practice guidance to quantitatively estimate
                              its confidence in its 2001 emissions data as a whole. Using the simpler
                              method, the United Kingdom reported an uncertainty value of 17 percent
                              for its inventory data as a whole; that is, the United Kingdom was 95
                              percent confident that total emissions were between 17 percent less and 17
                              percent more than the total of about 660,452 gigagrams of carbon dioxide
                              equivalent it estimated for the year. In contrast, using the more
                              sophisticated method, the United Kingdom reported an uncertainty value
                              of 13 percent, indicating it was 95 percent confident that total emissions
                              were between 13 percent less and 13 percent more than the year’s total
                              estimate.

                              According to the EPA official responsible for compiling the 2003 U.S.
                              inventory, the high, medium, and low categorizations reflect the early days
                              of developing inventories, before the IPCC had developed its good practice


                              Page 20                              GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
                             guidance on quantitative methods. Prior to the guidance, the parties
                             recognized that nations would vary in their ability to perform quantitative
                             uncertainty analysis. The parties instituted the three-part categorization in
                             an effort to obtain information that was comparable across nations that
                             were using different methods for assessing data uncertainty. The parties
                             have moved to the quantitative methods because the three-part
                             categorization approach yielded limited information about data
                             uncertainty. For example, a nation could have uncertainty estimates of 35
                             percent and 60 percent but could have categorized both estimates as
                             medium. The quantitative estimates provide information about the
                             uncertainty of the various components of the inventory, thereby helping
                             nations identify areas in which improvements would have the greatest
                             effect on the accuracy of the inventory as a whole. In addition, the
                             quantified estimates make the uncertainty analyses more consistent and
                             understandable across nations. According to the Secretariat, the quantified
                             uncertainty analysis also better enables expert reviewers to determine if
                             nations are targeting their improvements in the appropriate areas.



The Parties Are Taking       To improve the quality of data on greenhouse gas emissions, the parties to
                             the Framework Convention are refining their requirements for both Annex
Steps to Improve the         I and non-Annex I nations. In addition, they are bolstering the review
Quality of Emissions         processes for Annex I nations. The changes are to begin to take effect over
                             the next few years. The parties currently have no plans to change the way
Data                         that non-Annex I nations’ inventories are assessed.



Changes in Requirements      The parties have revised their requirements for both Annex I and non-
for Annex I and Non-Annex    Annex I nations, with the changes taking effect over the next few years.
                             The revisions fall mainly into two areas: procedures for estimating
I Nations Take Effect over   emissions and procedures for reporting those estimates.
the Next Few Years
                             The parties have revised both the estimating and reporting requirements
                             for Annex I nations. Regarding estimating, for example, beginning with the
                             2004 submissions, Annex I nations will be required to use both the 1996
                             IPCC estimating guidelines and the 2000 IPCC good practice guidance.
                             Previously, Annex I nations were required to use only the 1996 estimating
                             guidance and were encouraged, but not required, to use the good practice
                             guidance. Regarding reporting, the parties have specified in greater detail
                             than before the information that should be included in Annex I nations’
                             national inventory reports and in the data tables in the common reporting



                             Page 21                               GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
format. For example, nations should include explanations of how they
recalculated their previous years’ data and, as previously discussed, the
methods they used to quantify their confidence in the data in their national
inventory reports. In their reports, nations should document that they
prepared their estimates in accordance with the IPCC good practice
guidance or explain why they did not; for example, an explanation is
required if they used a more sophisticated methodology than that specified
in the guidance. The nations should also cross-reference the information in
the national inventory report to explain the estimates reported in the data
tables. Furthermore, Annex I nations must submit their national inventory
reports following a specified format designed to facilitate review of the
inventories.

The parties also revised the reporting requirements for non-Annex I nations
that submit inventories in 2003 or later. Non-Annex I nations that had not
submitted an inventory prior to 2003 must include data in their initial
inventories for either 1990 or 1994 to establish an inventory baseline. Those
submitting their second inventories should provide data for 2000 as well.
This is in contrast to the requirement that Annex I nations submit data for
all years, from 1990 to the present. Similarly, the parties specified that non-
Annex I nations should report data for carbon dioxide, methane, and
nitrous oxide and encouraged reporting of the other three gases—
hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. In
contrast, Annex I nations are required to report data for all six gases.
According to the manager of the 2003 U.S. inventory, the estimating and
reporting requirements for non-Annex I nations are less demanding to
encourage those nations to report because those nations generally have
fewer resources available for reporting.

In addition, the parties have requested that the IPCC continue to improve
its guidance on estimating. Currently, the good practice guidance does not
address estimating emissions and removals for the land-use change and
forestry sector. According to the EPA official who managed the 2003 U.S.
inventory, the IPCC deferred guidance on estimating emissions and
removals because it was developing a special report on them, which was
subsequently published in 2000. On the basis of that report, the IPCC began
drafting new good practice guidance for estimating emissions and removals
for the land-use change and forestry sector, which is due to be completed in
late 2003. As part of this effort, the IPCC is also refining the data tables for
the land-use change and forestry sector. In addition, according to the same
EPA official, the IPCC is merging the 1996 guidelines with its good practice
guidance and expects to complete the effort by 2007.



Page 22                                GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
The Parties Are Bolstering     The parties are strengthening the expert review process for Annex I
the Review Process for         nations’ submissions by conducting more reviews and standardizing the
                               review processes. Beginning with the 2003 submissions, each of the 39
Annex I Nations, but Not for   Annex I nations will undergo one of the three types of expert reviews each
Other Nations                  year: an in-country review once every 5 years and either a desk review or a
                               centralized review in each of the intervening years. This requirement
                               contrasts with the practices of the past 3 years, when the experts
                               performed from 8 to 21 expert reviews in a year. Furthermore, to
                               standardize the reviews, the parties have spelled out, in greater detail than
                               before, the elements that are to be examined during reviews and have
                               developed a standardized format for reporting the results of the reviews. In
                               addition, according to EPA inventory managers, in another effort to make
                               the expert reviews more uniform, the Secretariat is developing a handbook
                               and a training program for the expert reviewers and has specified the
                               composition and responsibilities of the teams of expert reviewers.

                               According to the Secretariat, the parties have no plans to change the
                               assessment process for non-Annex I nations’ inventories, but the new
                               reporting guidance for non-Annex I nations would facilitate changes to the
                               assessment process, should the parties decide to institute them.



Scope and                      To examine the results of the most recent expert reviews of the greenhouse
                               gas inventories submitted by the four economically developed nations
Methodology                    included in our study—Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the
                               United States—we reviewed and analyzed the Secretariat’s status reports
                               showing the results of its initial reviews (called stage 1 reviews by the
                               Secretariat) of the most recently submitted inventories (2003). We also
                               reviewed the reports on the parties’ most recent expert reviews (called in-
                               depth reviews by the Secretariat) of the four nations’ inventories (2000 for
                               Japan, 2000 and 2002 for the United Kingdom, 2000 for the United States,
                               and 2001 for Germany) and related documentation on reporting
                               requirements and review processes issued by the Secretariat. We
                               interviewed officials at EPA who manage the U.S. greenhouse gas inventory
                               and serve as inventory experts for the parties, as well as officials from the
                               State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and
                               Scientific Affairs who are responsible for policy issues related to the
                               Framework Convention. In addition, we reviewed and analyzed the limited
                               information provided to us by the Secretariat in response to questions we
                               posed.




                               Page 23                               GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
                  To describe the results of any assessments of inventories of the three
                  developing nations included in our study—China, India, and Mexico—we
                  reviewed and analyzed the Secretariat’s reports on its assessments of
                  inventories submitted by non-Annex I nations, including the latest
                  inventory submitted by Mexico (2001); related documentation on non-
                  Annex I nation reporting requirements and assessment processes; and
                  other Secretariat information documenting which non-Annex I nations
                  have submitted inventories. We also interviewed the officials at EPA and
                  the Department of Energy who are most familiar with the three nations’
                  efforts to compile and report their inventories, as well as the cognizant
                  officials from the State Department.

                  To determine the extent to which the developed nations have confidence in
                  their data, we analyzed the confidence information each nation provided in
                  its 2003 submission. To describe any changes in assessing confidence in the
                  data that are to take effect in the future, we examined documentation from
                  the Secretariat and the relevant sections of the four developed nations’
                  2003 submissions.

                  To describe the steps the parties are taking to improve the quality of future
                  inventory data and determine when those improvements might be in place,
                  we reviewed and analyzed documentation of the parties’ new estimating,
                  reporting, and review requirements; interviewed cognizant EPA officials;
                  and reviewed and analyzed the limited information on this issue submitted
                  to us by the Secretariat in response to questions we posed.

                  We performed our work between November 2002 and November 2003 in
                  accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.



Agency Comments   We provided a draft of this report to the Secretary of State, the
                  Administrator of EPA, and the Framework Convention Secretariat for
                  review and comment. EPA provided clarifying comments, which we
                  incorporated where appropriate. We did not receive comments from the
                  State Department or the Framework Convention Secretariat.


                  As arranged with your offices, we plan no further distribution of this report
                  until 30 days after the date of this letter, unless you publicly announce its
                  contents earlier. At that time, we will send copies of this report to
                  interested congressional committees; the Chairmen and Ranking Minority



                  Page 24                               GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
Members, Senate Committee on Appropriations, House Committee on
Appropriations, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, and House
Committee on Government Reform; the EPA Administrator; and the
Secretary of State. We will make copies available upon request to other
interested parties. This report will also be available at no cost on GAO’s
Web site at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staffs have any questions about this report, please call me at
(202) 512-3841. I can also be reached at stephensonj@gao.gov. Key
contributors to this report are listed in appendix II.




John B. Stephenson
Director, Natural Resources
  and Environment




Page 25                               GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
Appendix I

Results of Expert Reviews of the Four                                                        Appendx
                                                                                                   ies




Developed Nations’ Inventories                                                                Append
                                                                                                   x
                                                                                                   Ii




               The six expert review reports we examined did not follow identical
               formats; however, they generally highlighted the experts’ findings and
               suggestions for improvement in a summary section at the beginning of each
               report. The experts noted instances of noncompliance with the reporting
               requirements. In addition, the experts noted some instances in which the
               nations did not comply with the Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty
               Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, even though
               following the good practice guidance was not a requirement at the time that
               the inventories were submitted. The summary-level findings and
               suggestions for each of the six expert reviews we examined are listed in
               table 3.




               Page 26                              GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
                                              Appendix I
                                              Results of Expert Reviews of the Four
                                              Developed Nations’ Inventories




Table 3: Results of the Most Recent Expert Reviews of the Four Developed Nations’ Inventories

Expert review                   Findings                                                     Suggestions for improvement
Centralized review of           Inventory did not conform to Secretariat’s guidelines;       Submit national inventory report with a brief
Germany’s inventory             specifically, it did not include the following:              explanation of methodologies and
submitted in 2001               • sector-specific data,                                      underlying assumptions that were used to
                                • a national inventory report,                               compile the inventory.
                                • required information on major sources of emissions,
                                • recalculated data for previous years or explanation of     Compile a complete emissions inventory for
                                  recalculations,                                            all of the required years and sectors.
                                • quantitative uncertainty estimates nor a qualitative
                                  discussion of reasons for uncertainty,
                                • procedures on quality assurance,
                                • inventory in specified software format,
                                • information on how the nation develops and manages its
                                  inventory, and
                                • information on ongoing efforts to improve the quality of
                                  its inventory.

                                Inventory was submitted after the deadline.

                                Inventory did not include information on any
                                improvements made in response to problems identified
                                with previous inventories.
Centralized review of Japan’s   Inventory did not conform to Secretariat’s guidelines;       Improve documentation.
inventory submitted in 2000     specifically, it did not include the following:
                                • a national inventory report and                            Submit a national inventory report to explain
                                • recalculated data for previous years.                      methods used to estimate emissions.

                                Inventory did not contain information needed to determine Improve the consistency of the data and
                                completeness of sources of emissions for the industrial   information provided.
                                processes sector.
In-country review of the United Inventory did not completely conform to Secretariat’s        Archive documentation supporting the
Kingdom’s inventory             guidelines; specifically, the United Kingdom did not         national inventory report in one location or
submitted in 2000               • provide the national inventory report on time;             on the Web.
                                • apply the Secretariat’s good practice guidance;
                                • provide required details for the waste and the land-use    Publish findings from research on improving
                                  change and forestry sectors;                               estimates.
                                • include required calculations and disaggregated activity
                                  data for the sectors;                                      Perform quality assurance procedures for
                                • explain rationale for assumptions used for emission        emissions data from industry.
                                  estimates;
                                • use consistent assumptions and methods to report time-     Report emissions and removals separately.
                                  series information for sources of emissions in the
                                  industrial processes sector;
                                • include information on quality assurance procedures;
                                  and
                                • include required information on sources of and methods
                                  for estimating hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons,
                                  and sulfur hexafluoride.




                                              Page 27                                        GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
                                                        Appendix I
                                                        Results of Expert Reviews of the Four
                                                        Developed Nations’ Inventories




(Continued From Previous Page)
Expert review                             Findings                                                     Suggestions for improvement
Desk review of the United                 No findings were noted.                                      Attempt to include estimates for data
Kingdom’s inventory                                                                                    categories not yet included.
submitted in 2002
                                                                                                       Provide more specific information in the
                                                                                                       national inventory report on how the
                                                                                                       consistency of emissions data over time was
                                                                                                       achieved.
Desk review of the United       The information included in the data tables was somewhat For more complete and transparent
States’s inventory submitted in inconsistent with the information included in the national reporting in the land-use change and
2000                            inventory report.                                           forestry sector,
                                                                                            • include a description of methods used for
                                The data tables did not include recalculations; however,      estimating carbon dioxide removals in
                                the national inventory report included information on         forest soils and landfills;
                                revised methodologies and updated data that were used • provide more explanation on factors used
                                for recalculations.                                           to estimate carbon dioxide removals in the
                                                                                              forest floor, understory vegetation, and
                                The inventory did not include information on the quality      harvested wood products; and
                                assurance procedures that were used.                        • include data on emissions and removals
                                                                                              from abandonment of managed lands and
                                The inventory did not include information on the quality of   nonforest organic mineral soils.
                                estimates in the data tables.

In-country review of the United The information included in the data tables was somewhat Apply quality assurance procedures to all
States’s inventory submitted in inconsistent with the information included in the national sectors.
2000                            inventory report.

                                          The data were estimated using complex methods and
                                          models that required data at a more detailed level than
                                          was provided.

                                          Although the national inventory report contained some
                                          information on quantitative and qualitative indications of
                                          uncertainties for emissions sources, the estimates were
                                          not complete.

                                          The national inventory report provided no specific
                                          information on verification and quality assurance
                                          procedures.
Source: GAO analysis of expert reviews.




                                                        Page 28                                        GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
Appendix II

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments                                                          Appendx
                                                                                                      Ii




GAO Contacts      John B. Stephenson, (202) 512-3841
                  David Marwick, (202) 512-6775



Staff             In addition to the individuals named above, Simin Ho and Karla Springer
                  made key contributions to this report. Nancy Crothers, Sandra Edwards,
Acknowledgments   Barbara Johnson, Karen Keegan, Andria Key, Charlotte Moore, Chris
                  Moriarity, Katherine Raheb, and Anne Rhodes-Kline also made important
                  contributions.




(360277)          Page 29                              GAO-04-98 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports
GAO’s Mission            The General Accounting Office, the audit, evaluation and investigative arm of
                         Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities
                         and to help improve the performance and accountability of the federal government
                         for the American people. GAO examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal
                         programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other
                         assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding
                         decisions. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of
                         accountability, integrity, and reliability.


Obtaining Copies of      The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no cost is
                         through the Internet. GAO’s Web site (www.gao.gov) contains abstracts and full-
GAO Reports and          text files of current reports and testimony and an expanding archive of older
                         products. The Web site features a search engine to help you locate documents
Testimony                using key words and phrases. You can print these documents in their entirety,
                         including charts and other graphics.
                         Each day, GAO issues a list of newly released reports, testimony, and
                         correspondence. GAO posts this list, known as “Today’s Reports,” on its Web site
                         daily. The list contains links to the full-text document files. To have GAO e-mail this
                         list to you every afternoon, go to www.gao.gov and select “Subscribe to
                         e-mail alerts” under the “Order GAO Products” heading.


Order by Mail or Phone   The first copy of each printed report is free. Additional copies are $2 each. A check
                         or money order should be made out to the Superintendent of Documents. GAO
                         also accepts VISA and Mastercard. Orders for 100 or more copies mailed to a single
                         address are discounted 25 percent. Orders should be sent to:
                         U.S. General Accounting Office
                         441 G Street NW, Room LM
                         Washington, D.C. 20548
                         To order by Phone:     Voice: (202) 512-6000
                                                TDD: (202) 512-2537
                                                Fax: (202) 512-6061


To Report Fraud,         Contact:
                         Web site: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm
Waste, and Abuse in      E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov
Federal Programs         Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470



Public Affairs           Jeff Nelligan, Managing Director, NelliganJ@gao.gov (202) 512-4800
                         U.S. General Accounting Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
                         Washington, D.C. 20548
United States                  Presorted Standard
General Accounting Office      Postage & Fees Paid
Washington, D.C. 20548-0001           GAO
                                 Permit No. GI00
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use $300
Address Service Requested