Protocol For Climate Change Mitigation Projects Released

A protocol for measuring and reporting the benefits of greenhouse gas reduction projects (GHG projects) was released on Dec. 6 by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) at a press conference during the United Nations climate talks in Montreal, Canada.

The GHG Protocol for Project Accounting (project protocol) becomes available just weeks after the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism issued its first carbon credits for climate change mitigation projects in Honduras and India. With this milestone reached and the development of an increasing number of other project-based initiatives -- such as the New South Wales GHG Abatement Scheme (Australia) and the emerging Canadian Offset System for Greenhouse Gases -- the need for globally consistent and transparent GHG project accounting methods is increasingly important. The project protocol helps to meet this need, officials said.

"The project protocol fills an important need for project developers," said Bruno Vanderborght, vice president of Corporate Industrial Ecology, Holcim Ltd. "It explains what to do -- and importantly, how to do it -- so that claims about GHG reductions from our projects will be transparent and credible. This is essential for us as we look for ways to meet our emission targets and participate in the growing global market for greenhouse gas offsets."

The project protocol complements the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard (corporate standard), which has become the most widely used global standard for corporate accounting of GHG emissions and is used by businesses, organizations, programs and initiatives around the world, officials said.

"The widespread adoption of the corporate standard contributes significantly to the standardization and harmonization of GHG accounting and reporting frameworks worldwide," said Björn Stigson, president of WBCSD. "We hope that the project protocol will similarly serve as a model or basis for other emissions reporting and reduction programs."

Jonathan Lash, president of WRI, added, "There will be a growing global trade in carbon credits for decades to come and a consistent, accurate, and transparent system of accounting for emissions reductions is an essential foundation. That is what this protocol provides."

The project protocol's procedures are compatible with existing Clean Development Mechanism methodologies. However, the project protocol brings together in one place the key concepts, principles, and methods to account for GHG emission reductions from any type of GHG project. It provides detailed instructions for developing a GHG emission "baseline" using the two major approaches developed by climate policy experts: multi-project performance standards and project-specific baseline scenarios. It also explains how to account for the unintended changes in GHG emissions a project might cause, and how to report GHG emission reductions for maximum transparency.

"As project-based schemes for reducing GHG emissions begin to multiply, the project protocol's comprehensiveness and provisions for transparent reporting will make it much easier to evaluate and compare a wide range of projects," said Einar Telnes, technical director, International Climate Change Services, DNV Certification.

The market for project-based GHG emission reductions -- according to a recent analysis by PointCarbon -- is expected to grow from $450 million this year to more than $23 billion by 2010.

The project protocol is the culmination of a four-year dialogue hosted by WRI and WBCSD between businesses, non-government organizations, governments, academics, and others from both developed and developing countries. As with the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, this collaborative process helped to ensure agreement among a wide range of stakeholders and to produce a protocol that is flexible, rigorous, and comprehensive.

The project protocol manual, along with supporting documents and tools, are available at http://www.ghgprotocol.org.

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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