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Monitoring and reporting of GHG emissions

Effective monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is critical for tracking progress towards the achievement of emission reduction targets. The ultimate goal of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of GHGs at a level which prevents dangerous human interference with the climate system.

 

As Parties to the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, the European Union and Member States are required to report annually on their GHG emissions. They also have to report regularly on their climate change policies and measures through National Communications.

The annual EU GHG inventory report is prepared on behalf of the European Commission by the European Environment Agency each spring. In line with UNFCCC reporting requirements, each Member State's annual inventory covers emissions up until two years previously. The GHG inventory reports and the emissions data can be accessed under the Documentation tab above. A document describing the EU's inventory system and Quality Assurance and Control programmepdf(264 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  is also available.

GHG monitoring mechanism

Tube with smoke on winter sunset © Zoonar

The EU inventory reflects the sum of national inventories, based on Member States' monitoring of their own GHG emissions. This national monitoring is required under the GHG monitoring mechanism, which was established in 1993 and revised in 2004 as part of the EU's preparations for meeting its Kyoto Protocol emissions reduction target.

The key objectives of the 2004 Monitoring Mechanism Decision were to:

  • Monitor all anthropogenic (man-made) GHG emissions covered by the Kyoto Protocol in the Member States;
  • Evaluate progress towards meeting GHG reduction commitments under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol;
  • Implement the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol as regards national programmes, greenhouse gas inventories, national systems and registries of the EU and its Member States, and the relevant procedures under the Kyoto Protocol;
  • Ensure the timeliness, completeness, accuracy, consistency, comparability and transparency of reporting by the EU and its Member States to the UNFCCC Secretariat.

Towards an enhanced monitoring mechanism

In November 2011 the Commission made a legislative proposal to revise and significantly enhance the monitoring mechanism. Following agreement by the Council and the European Parliament, the new Monitoring Mechanism Regulation (MMR) entered into force on 8 July 2013.

The revised mechanism enhances the current reporting rules on GHG emissions to meet requirements arising from current and future international climate agreements as well as the 2009 climate and energy package. It aims to improve the quality of data reported, help the EU and Member States keep track of progress towards meeting their emission targets for 2013-2020 and facilitate further development of the EU climate policy mix.

The MMR also introduces new elements, such as reporting of:

  • Member States' and the EU's low-carbon development strategies;
  • Financial and technical support provided to developing countries, and commitments arising from the 2009 Copenhagen Accord and 2010 Cancún Agreements;
  • Member States' use of revenues from the auctioning of allowances in the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS). Member States have committed to spend at least half of the revenue from such auctions on measures to fight climate change in the EU and third countries.
  • Emissions and removals from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF);
  • Member States' adaptation to climate change;

Specific monitoring and reporting provisions for companies related to emissions from installations covered by the EU ETS are covered by separate implementing legislation.

Annual progress reports

Under the monitoring mechanism the Commission is required to produce an annual report assessing the progress of the EU and its Member States towards meeting their commitments under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. These reports, which are submitted to the European Parliament and to the Council, can be found under the Documentation tab above.

The progress reports cover actual (historic) emissions as well as Member States' projections of their future emissions. The European Environment Agency (EEA) assists the Commission in the preparation of the report and the assessment of progress. The EEA also publishes a more detailed annual report on GHG trends and projections in its member countries at the same time as the Commission publishes its progress report each autumn.

National communications

Developed countries are required under the UNFCCC to submit National Communications at regular intervals. These reports provide information on emissions and removals of GHGs, policies and measures to address emissions and other activities undertaken to implement the Convention. From 2014 biennial reports are also required, in order to fill the information gap between National Communications.

The EU's National Communications can be found under the Documentation tab above. Developed countries are required to submit their next National Communication, the sixth, by 1 January 2014.