The Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Verification of Climate Change Projects
Because of concerns with the growing threat of global climate change from increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, the United States and other countries are implementing, by themselves or in cooperation with one or more other nations, climate change projects. These projects will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or sequester carbon, and will also result in non-GHG benefits (i.e., environmental, economic, and social benefits). Monitoring, evaluating, reporting, and verifying (MERV) guidelines are needed for these projects to accurately determine their net GHG, and other, benefits. Implementation of MERV guidelines is also intended to: (1) increase the reliability of data for estimating GHG benefits; (2) provide real-time data so that mid-course corrections can be made; (3) introduce consistency and transparency across project types and reporters; and (4) enhance the credibility of the projects with stakeholders. In this paper, we review the issues involved in MERV activities. We identify several topics that future protocols and guidelines need to address, such as: (1) establishing a credible baseline; (2) accounting for impacts outside project boundaries through leakage; (3) net GHG reductions and other benefits; (4) precision of measurement; (5) MERV frequency and the persistence (sustainability) of savings, emissions reduction, and carbon sequestration; (6) reporting by multiple project participants; (7) verification of GHG reduction credits; (8) uncertainty and risk; (9) institutional capacity in conducting MERV; and (10) the cost of MERV.