Monitoring Compliance with Treaties Intended to Reduce Climate Change

Research has shown that improving the effectiveness of international agreements will require a variety of mechanisms to verify compliance (Mitchell, 2003; Winkler, 2008; see also Chapter 16). Scholarship in this area has pointed out many of the constraints to monitoring and implementation, including establishing baselines, measuring GHGs, documenting additionality (that is, what countries and other actors are doing in addition to what would have been implemented in the absence of climate agreements) and "leakage" (emissions reductions in areas with strong policies being offset by increases in areas with weaker policies; Laurance, 2007; Santilli et al., 2005). Substantial improvements in technical capabilities will be required to meet these needs.

Numerous methods for performing more direct GHG measurements exist or have been proposed. For example, CO2 could be measured directly at large concentrated sources, to supplement indirect measurements calculated from fuel inputs (Ackerman and Sundquist, 2008). An expanded network of ground-based, tall-tower, aircraft and satellite measurements of atmospheric CO2 (including its isotopic signature) could be combined with atmospheric circulation models to infer regional anthropogenic CO2 signals among natural sources and sinks of CO2. In particular, a high-precision, highresolution satellite system such as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (which crashed at launch in February 2009) could provide the critical baseline CO2 information against which decadal CO2 trends can be verified following a climate treaty (NRC, 2009h). A recent NRC study (2010k) examined a number of these approaches, including their potential use in treaty monitoring and verification. The technology for monitoring changes in land use has also been an active area of research for decades and continues to grow in sophistication (Asner, 2009; GOFC-GOLD, 2008; Moran, 2009).

Verification of climate treaties will also require enhanced institutional arrangements (Winkler, 2008). At present, most work on reporting GHG emissions and removal due to human activities follows the UNFCCC protocol for activities in four sectors: energy; industrial processes and product use; agriculture, forestry, and other land use; and waste. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for the annual national summary report of GHG emissions and sinks, and the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration provides energy statistics in greater detail. The EPA also recently issued a Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule (EPA, 2009b), which sets up procedures for reporting from large sources and suppliers in the United States. Monitoring GHG concentrations is primarily the responsibility of NOAA, as part of the Global Atmosphere Watch of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO, 2009a).

The defense, intelligence, and diplomatic communities have considerable experience with designing both technology and institutional arrangements to effectively monitor treaty compliance, and in particular to deploy remote sensing for fine-scale local observations. Expanded engagement of these communities might substantially advance the pace at which the science of monitoring and institutional design evolves and thus provides enhanced support for decision making around international treaties. National and international law enforcement agencies as well as traditional treaty enforcement institutions may also need to be involved since most proposed policies have the potential for fraud and falsification (Gibbs et al., 2009; INECE, 2009; Yang, 2006). As in prior national security agreements, effective verification mechanisms may require surmounting discomfort, in the United States as elsewhere, over provisions allowing access for international inspectors.

Finally, establishing standards and certification mechanisms will be extremely important to reduce emissions. Standards and certification are sets of rules and procedures that are intended to ensure that sellers of credits are following steps that ensure that carbon is actually being sequestered and thus are closely related to monitoring. Proposals are appearing in the literature on how to develop and implement such standards (Oldenburg et al., 2009). These could be informed by the existing literature on how standards and certifications are used to shape the use of technology, including how such standards are negotiated, implemented, and enforced with varying degrees of effectiveness (Bingen and Busch, 2006; Eden, 2009; Hatanaka et al., 2005). These issues are also closely connected with the discussion of monitoring and observation discussed above.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment