Key sources

In May 2000, the IPCC Plenary, at its 16th session held in Montreal, accepted the report on Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National

Greenhouse Gas Inventories . The report provides good practice guidance to assist countries in producing inventories that are neither over nor underestimates so far as can be judged, and in which uncertainties are reduced as far as practicable. It supports the development of inventories that are transparent, documented, consistent over time, complete, comparable, assessed for uncertainties, subject to quality control and quality assurance, and efficient in the use of resources. The report does not revise or replace the Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, but provides a reference that complements and is consistent with those guidelines.

Methodological choice for individual source categories is important in managing overall inventory uncertainty. Generally, inventory uncertainty is lower when emissions are estimated using the most rigorous methods, but due to finite resources, this may not be feasible for every source category. To make the most efficient use of available resources, it is good practice to identify those source categories that have the greatest contribution to overall inventory uncertainty. By identifying these key source categories in the national inventory, inventory agencies can prioritise their efforts and improve their overall estimates. Such a process will lead to improved inventory quality, as well as greater confidence in the resulting emissions estimates. It is good practice for each inventory agency to identify its national key source categories in a systematic and objective manner.

A key source category is one that is prioritised within the national inventory system because its estimate has a significant influence on a country's total inventory of direct greenhouse gases in terms of the absolute level of emissions, the trend in emissions, or both.

Any inventory agency that has prepared an emissions inventory will be able to identify key source categories

13. The report on IPCC Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories is available from the IPCC Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme (

in terms of their contribution to the absolute level of national emissions. For those inventory agencies that have prepared a time series, the quantitative determination of key source categories should include evaluation of both the absolute level and the trend in emissions. Evaluating only the influence of a source category on the overall level of emissions provides limited information about why the source category is key. Some key source categories may not be identified if the influence of their trend is not taken into account.

The Good Practice Guidance describes both a basic Tier 1 approach and a Tier 2 approach. The basic difference between the two approaches is that the Tier 2 approach accounts for uncertainty.

In each country's national inventory, certain source categories are particularly significant in terms of their contribution to the overall uncertainty of the inventory. It is important to identify these key source categories so that the resources available for inventory preparation may be prioritised and the best possible estimates prepared for the most significant source categories.

The results of the key source category determination will be most useful if the analysis is done at the appropriate level of detail. The Good Practice Guidance suggests at which levels of details the various IPCC Source Categories should be analysed. For example, the combustion of fossil fuels is a large emission source category that can be broken down into subsource categories, and even to the level of individual plants or boilers. The following guidance describes good practice in determining the appropriate level of analysis to identify key source categories:

• The analysis should be performed at the level of IPCC source categories (i.e. at the level at which the IPCC methods are described). The analysis should be performed using CO2-equivalent emissions calculated using the global warming potentials (GWPs) specified for the preparation of national greenhouse gas inventories by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, Part I: UNFCCC reporting guidelines on annual inventories (UNFCCC Guidelines).

• Each greenhouse gas emitted from a single source category should be considered separately, unless there are specific methodological reasons for treating gases collectively. For example, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are emitted from mobile sources. The key source category evaluation should be performed for each of these gases separately because methods, emission factors and related uncertainties differ for each gas. In contrast, a collective evaluation of hydro-fluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs) may be appropriate for some source categories, such as emissions from substitutes for Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS substitutes).

• Source categories that use the same emission factors based on common assumptions should be aggregated before analysis. This approach can also help deal with cross-correlations between source categories in the uncertainty analysis. The same pattern of aggregation should be used both to quantify uncertainties and to identify key source categories unless the associated activity data uncertainties are very different.

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