Quantitative approaches to identify key source categories

It is good practice for each inventory agency to identify its national key source categories in a systematic and objective manner, by performing a quantitative analysis of the relationships between the level and the trend of each source category's emissions and total national emissions.

Any inventory agency that has developed an emissions inventory will be able to perform the Tier 1 Level Assessment and identify the source categories whose level has a significant effect on total national emissions. Those inventory agencies that have developed emissions inventories for more than one year will also be able to perform the Tier 1 Trend Assessment and identify sources that are key because of their contribution to the total trend of national emissions. Both assessments are described in detail in the Good Practice Guidance.

For CO2 emissions from stationary combustion, the Good Practice Guidance suggests that the emissions be disaggregated to the level where emission factors are distinguished. In most inventories, this will be the main fuel types. If emission factors are determined independently for some sub-source categories, these should be distinguished in the analysis.

When using the Tier 1 approach, key source categories are identified using a pre-determined cumulative emissions threshold. The pre-determined threshold is based on an evaluation of several inventories, and is aimed at establishing a general level where 90% of inventory uncertainty will be covered by key source categories.

The Tier 1 method to identify key source categories of the national emissions inventory assesses the impacts of various source categories on the level and, if possible, on the trend. When national inventory estimates are available for several years, it is good practice to assess the contribution of each source category to both the level and trend of the national inventory. If only a single year's inventory is available, only a Level Assessment can be performed.

For the Tier 1 Level Assessment, the contribution of each source category to the total national inventory level is calculated according to Equation 1:


Lx,t is the Level Assessment for source x in year t

Source category estimate (Ex,t) is the emission estimate of source category x in year t

Total estimate (Et) is the total inventory estimate in year t

The value of the source category Level Assessment should be calculated separately for each source category, and the cumulative sum of all the entries is calculated. Key source categories are those that, when summed together in descending order of magnitude, add up to over 95% of the total. Any source category that meets the 95% threshold in any year should be identified as a key source category.

The Tier 1 Trend Assessment calculates the contribution of each source category trend to the trend in the total national inventory. This assessment will identify source categories that have a different trend to the trend of the overall inventory. As differences in trend are more significant to the overall inventory level for larger source categories, the result of the trend difference (i.e. the source category trend minus total trend)


Source Category Level Assessment = Source Category Estimate / Total Estimate

Lx,t = Ex,t / Et is multiplied by the result of the level assessment (Lx,t from Equation 1) to provide appropriate weighting. Thus, key source categories will be those where the source category trend diverges significantly from the total trend, weighted by the emission level of the source category.

If nationally derived source-level uncertainties are available, inventory agencies can use Tier 2 to identify key source categories. The Tier 2 approach is a more detailed analysis that builds on the Tier 1 approach, and it is likely to reduce the number of key source categories. Under Tier 2, the results of the Tier 1 analysis are multiplied by the relative uncertainty of each source category. In this case, the pre-determined threshold applies to the cumulative uncertainty and not to the cumulative emissions. Key source categories are those that together represent 90% of total uncertainty.

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