Compiling An Inventory

Compiling a greenhouse gas inventory is a step-by-step process. This section provides guidance on these steps for the inventory compiler, i.e., the person, persons or institutions who put together or compose the inventory from materials gathered from several sources. Compilation includes the collection of data, estimation of emissions and removals, checking and verification, uncertainty assessment and reporting.

Before undertaking estimates of emissions and removals from specific categories an inventory compiler should become familiar with the material in Volume 1 General Guidance and Reporting. This Volume provides good practice guidance on issues that are common to all the estimation methods covered by the sector-specific guidance provided in Volumes 2 to 5 and reporting instructions.

Summary of Volume 1:

• Data collection: Collection of data is a fundamental part of inventory preparation. Chapter 2 of Volume 1 provides guidance on initiating and maintaining a data collection program. It covers evaluating existing sources of data, and planning new emission measurements and surveys, extensive reference is made to guidance provided by other organisations. The chapter links the data collection process to the other general issues.

• Uncertainty assessment: Estimates of uncertainty are needed for all relevant source and sink categories, greenhouse gases, inventory totals as a whole, and their trends. Chapter 3, Uncertainties, provides practical guidance for estimating and combining uncertainties, along with a discussion of the conceptual underpinnings of inventory uncertainty. Uncertainty issues related to specific category of emissions and removals are addressed in Volumes 2-5.

• Key category analysis: Good practice guidance on how to identify key categories of emissions and removals is provided in Chapter 4, Methodological Choice and Identification of Key Categories. The key category concept is used, together with the decision trees in Volumes 2-5, to guide users in their methodological choice for each category. These decision trees are the critical link between methodological choice in the sector-specific volumes and the identification of key categories in Volume 1.

• Time series consistency: Ensuring the time series consistency of inventory estimates is essential for establishing confidence in reported inventory trends. Chapter 5, Time Series Consistency, provides methods for ensuring time-series consistency in cases where it is not possible to use the same method and/or data over the entire period. This chapter also provides good practice guidance on when to recalculate estimates for previous years and methods for accounting for changes in emissions and removals over time.

• Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC): A QA/QC system is an important part of inventory development. Chapter 6, QA/QC and Verification, describes the general QA/QC aspects to consider when compiling an inventory of emissions and removals. Good practice guidance on sector specific quality control checks are addressed in Volumes 2-5. Chapter 6 also describes techniques for verifying inventories using external data.

• Precursors and indirect N2O emissions: Volume 1 also includes cross-sectoral guidance on dealing with precursors and indirect emissions of N2O from deposition of nitrogen compounds (resulting from NOx and NH3 emissions) in Chapter 7, Precursors and Indirect Emissions.

• Reporting: Chapter 8, Reporting Guidance and Tables, specifically addresses issues related to reporting, including definitions of national territory, gases and reporting categories. Notation keys are introduced to account for completeness and transparency in reporting. The definitions of categories of sources and sinks take into account the structure of the sector guidance in Volume 2-5. The sectoral and summary reporting tables to be applied for reporting emissions and removals of each category are included in Chapter 8. Reporting tables on uncertainties, key category analysis, and emission trends have also been developed and are included in Chapter 8.

Volumes 1 and Volumes 2 to 5 are complementary. After the compilers tasked with preparing estimates for specific emission and removal categories have familiarised themselves with the general guidance in Volume 1 they should use the specific sectoral volume(s) appropriate to their categories so that they can apply the requirements in a manner appropriate to their national circumstances. Figure 1.1 illustrates the steps of a typical inventory cycle. Quality control measures should be implemented at each step and should be documented according to the requirements of QA/QC and documentation given in Chapter 6 of Volume 1.

1. The first step for a revised or new greenhouse gas inventory is to identify the key categories for the inventory so that resources can be prioritised. Where an inventory already exists, the key categories can be identified quantitatively from the previous estimates (see Volume 1 Chapter 4). For a new inventory the compiler will have to make a preliminary assessment based on local knowledge and expertise about large emission sources and inventories in countries with similar national circumstances or, if possible, make preliminary Tier 1 estimates to assist in identifying key categories.

Assessing the key categories helps the inventory compiler to focus effort and resources on the sectors that contribute most to the overall inventory or inventory uncertainty and so helps to ensure that the best possible inventory is compiled for the available resources.

2. Once the key categories have been identified, the inventory compiler should identify the appropriate method for estimation for each category in the particular country circumstances. The sector-specific decision trees in Volumes 2-5 and the generalised decision tree in Chapter 4 of Volume 1 provide guidance on selecting appropriate methods. The selection of methods will be determined by the classification of a category as key or not key, and by both the data and the resources available. Guidance on data collection is provided in Chapter 2 of Volume 1.

3. Data collection should follow the selection of the appropriate methods. (See Chapter 2, 5 and 7 in Volume 1). Data collection activities should consider time series consistency and establish and maintain good verification, documentation and checking procedures (QA/QC) to minimise errors and inconsistencies in the inventory estimates. Data on uncertainties should if possible be collected at the same time. Guidance on the collection of new data in a cost effective way and on uncertainties is provided in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of Volume 1 respectively. QA/QC activities should continue throughout this process to minimise errors and document data sources, methods and assumptions. The results of the data collection may lead to refinement of the methods chosen.

4. Emissions and removals are estimated following the methodological choice and data collection. Care should be taken to follow the general guidance in Chapter 5, Time Series Consistency in Volume 1 especially if the data are incomplete for some years.

5. Once the inventory estimates are complete, the next step is to perform an uncertainty analysis and key category analysis (see Chapters 3 and 4 in Volume 1). These analyses may identify categories for which a higher tier should be used and additional data collected.

6. Following the completion of the final quality assurance (QA) checks, the final step in the inventory process is to report the inventory (See Chapter 8 in Volume 1). The aim here is to present the inventory in an as concise and clear way as possible to enable users to understand the data, methods and assumptions used in the inventory. Provision of concise relevant background information and explanations in the reports helps to ensure the inventory (including the report) is transparent.

The inventory compiler should base future inventory revisions on previous inventories. Thus an iterative process builds on and improves the inventory each time a new inventory is compiled as illustrated in Figure 1.1. When a revised inventory is compiled, all years estimates should be reviewed for consistency and updated integrating any feasible improvements where necessary. Chapter 5 in Volume 1 gives advice on compiling consistent time series and provides good practice approaches for achieving time series consistency.

Figure 1.1 Inventory development cycle

Figure 1.1 Inventory development cycle

Box 1.1 provides an example on using the 2006 Guidelines throughout the inventory cycle when estimating emissions from enteric fermentation.

Box 1.1

Using the flow diagram (Figure 1.1) and the 2006 Guidelines - Livestock example

Inventory compilers tasked with preparing estimates for specific emission and removal categories need to familiarise themselves with guidance in two Volumes: the relevant guidance in a sectoral volume (e.g., Volume 4, Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use), and the general guidance in Volume 1. Along with the diagram (see Figure 1.1) this box describes how the guidance in the two Volumes is used for estimating methane emissions from Enteric Fermentation:

Start with your previous inventory where available and prioritise categories for estimation.

• The inventory compiler can begin with the overall results of the previous national inventory, particularly the key category assessment, as a preliminary step to selecting methods and data (Chapter 4 of Volume 1).

Familiarise yourself with general and sector specific QA/QC requirements.

• Prior to collecting all the data and estimating emissions, the inventory compiler should consult the general guidance in implementing Quality Control (QC) procedures in Chapter 6 of Volume 1 (QA/QC and Verification) along with the specific QC procedures for enteric fermentation described in Chapter 10 of Volume 4. QC procedures should be implemented at every step of the inventory cycle. This will include regular checking and clear documentation of data sources methods and assumptions.

Choose appropriate methods based on category importance and data availability.

• The inventory compiler should consult the decision tree and methodological guidance in Chapter 10 of Volume 4 to select an appropriate method. In this example, enteric fermentation is a key category, which indicates that normally Tier 2 or 3 should be selected.

• The general guidance in Chapter 2 (Approaches to Data Collection) of Volume 1 and Chapter 10 of Volume 4 will guide the inventory compiler in choosing appropriate emission factor, activity data and other estimation parameters. This may include identifying or choosing from existing data or collection and classification of new data.

Collect the data necessary for the latest year and a consistent time series and uncertainty estimation.

• The next step involves collection of the needed data for all years. The availability of data may sometimes restrict use of higher tier methods for key categories.

• Chapter 5 (Time Series Consistency) of Volume 1 should be used if preparing estimates for more than one year. This guidance is particularly relevant if the selected method is different from the one used in previous inventories or the sources of data or their classification have changed. This can imply the need for recalculations of previous estimates or splicing of data series. Chapter 10 of Volume 4 should be consulted for source-specific guidance on time-series consistency.

• In estimating uncertainties, inventory compilers should also refer to the general guidance on uncertainty in Chapter 3 of Volume 1 - paying particular attention to guidance on concepts and methods - and the uncertainty section of the enteric fermentation livestock chapter for source-specific information (for example default uncertainties). Ideally, the inventory compiler should collect activity data, emission factors, and uncertainty information at the same time because this is the most efficient strategy.

Estimate emissions/removals consistent with the guidance.

• The next step is to estimate methane emissions from enteric fermentation for all relevant years. Relevant guidance for this step includes the specific guidance for enteric fermentation in Volume 4, Chapter 10 relating to completeness, reporting and documentation, and time series consistency sections.

• The enteric fermentation emissions and uncertainty data are used subsequently as input into the compilation of the overall inventory, the estimation of category-specific and overall uncertainty, and the key category assessment. The results of these steps may require changes or revisions to the original estimate of emissions of enteric fermentation.

Box 1.1 (continued)

Check and review the estimates.

• Following the Quality Assurance (QA) guidance in Volume 1, the inventory compiler should arrange for review of the estimate and documentation by technical experts not involved in the preparation of the inventory. External reviewers may suggest improvements or identify errors that would require a recalculation of the enteric fermentation estimate.

Report the estimates.

• The IPCC Guidelines provide guidance on reporting information on enteric fermentation in two places: the enteric fermentation chapter of Volume 4, and the reporting tables in Chapter 8 of Volume 1. The inventory compiler should consult both chapters for a complete description of reporting guidance.

Note: In the case of an initial inventory effort, with no previous key category analysis, a qualitative assessment of enteric fermentation could be used. See Chapter 2 and Chapter 4 of Volume 1. In this example, it can be concluded that methane from enteric fermentation is key in most inventories and should therefore be considered initially key.


IPCC (1997). Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Volumes 1, 2 and 3. Houghton, J.T., Meira Filho, L.G., Lim, B., Tréanton, K., Mamaty, I., Bonduki, Y., Griggs, D.J. and Callander, B.A. (Eds). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), IPCC/OECD/IEA, Paris, France.

IPCC (2000). Good Practice Guidance and Uncertianty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Penman, J., Kruger, D., Galbally, I., Hiraishi, T., Nyenzi, B., Enmanuel, S., Buendia, L., Hoppaus, R., Martinsen, T., Meijer, J., Miwa, K. and Tanabe, K. (Eds). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), IPCC/OECD/IEA/IGES, Hayama, Japan.

IPCC (2003). Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, land-Use Change and Forestry. Penman, J., Gytarsky, M., Hiraishi, T., Kruger, D., Pipatti, R., Buendia, L., Miwa, K., Ngara, T., Tanabe, K. and Wagner, F. (Eds). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), IPCC/IGES, Hayama, Japan.

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