Treaty Verification

The prospect of binding international agreements with specific targets for GHG emissions from signatory countries will require methods and protocols for treaty verification and compliance. Whereas the measurement of GHGs has previously been in the research domain, the advent of climate treaties will require operational monitoring to meet the needs of verification and compliance. Remote sensing systems and other DOD and National Intelligence Council systems could play an important role in providing coverage of large regions of the globe and in monitoring local or point sources in remote or hostile locations.

This operational monitoring may require onsite visits to signatory countries by international observers with the ability to take direct in situ measurements to characterize, quantify, and validate sources and sinks of GHGs. Historical precedence for robust and potentially intrusive verification regimes can be found in the START I and START II trea ties. START I Provisions included data exchanges, notifications, inspections, national technical means, and cooperative measures. The START II agreement built upon the START I verification regime and added several in situ inspection protocols to address issues that could only be verified through onsite inspections.

Reliable measurements of GHG concentrations and emissions are needed to effectively inform national and international policy aimed at regulating emissions, to verify compliance with emissions policies, and to ascertain their effectiveness. A system of measurement that is the basis for international agreement or financial transactions (e.g., carbon trading systems) needs to meet a higher level of scrutiny than a system used exclusively for research because of its legal, liability, and compliance implications. Consideration must therefore be given to data security, authentication, reliability, and transparency. In addition, as noted in Chapter 15, concerns about the possibility of unilateral implementation of solar radiation management schemes or other geoengi-neering approaches raise the need for improved monitoring of both GHG emissions reduction efforts and other climate intervention methods.

At present, there is no single U.S. agency that has the lead responsibility for operational GHG monitoring, and recent experiences with joint civilian and military satellite design and operation (e.g., the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System; see NRC, 2008d) have highlighted some potential pitfalls of attempting to merge research and operational applications across multiple agencies. However, the defense, intelligence, and diplomatic communities have considerable experience with designing both technology and institutional arrangements to monitor treaty compliance. It would be valuable to complement this experience with the knowledge of the scientific community in designing and building monitoring and verification systems that have the appropriate resolution and accuracy to fulfill treaty verification requirements (NRC, 2009h). Improved interaction and engagement between the military, intelligence, diplomatic, and scientific communities would also be expected to advance the pace at which the science of monitoring evolves and enhance decision making around international treaties.

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