A tool to assess temporal verification of net greenhouse gas emission  changes under the Kyoto Protocol

This Excel file is made available to satisfy scientific and educational purposes. It is meant for experts as well as for students, who are interested in the issue of temporal verification of net greenhouse gas (GHG) emission changes under the Kyoto Protocol.

It aims at introducing a verification concept that appears to have sufficient potential to be developed further, although it does not yet present a complete, fully tested and applicable product.

About this tool

The Excel file is based on Hudz (2002), which provides the scientific and numerical background. In her IIASA study, Hudz proposed a probabilistic (risk-based) approach to address temporal verification of changes in global net carbon emissions, in particular with respect to (i) atmospheric CO2 and (ii) CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning, cement manufacture and gas flaring, under the Kyoto Protocol.

Hudz’s methodology permits assessing these net emission changes, which are characterized by uncertainty distributions, in terms of verification times (VTs). The VT is the time until a net emission signal begins to outstrip its underlying uncertainty.

For a number of reasons, namely (1) data availability, (2) consistency in accounting net carbon fluxes, and (3) spatio-temporal conditions, which correspond to the current level of sophistication that was realized in the approach, it was applied to the global scale. However, the temporal verification conditions of the approach correspond to those on sub-global scales, in accordance with the Protocol.

The two issues examined by Hudz (2002) are: (1) how to utilize the characterization of changes in global net carbon emissions by uncertainty distributions for the description of VTs on a probabilistical basis; and (2) whether probabilistically and deterministically determined VTs differ.


What to keep in mind

  • Scientists strictly distinguish between plausibility, validation, and verification (ascending order of stringency). The definition of verification used here as a reference is taken from the IPCC (2000: Annex 3). It is sufficient as it specifies verification towards the intended purpose of the Kyoto Protocol, which can only be done from an atmospheric point of view: What matters is what the atmosphere sees! Net emission assessments based on inventories and other bottom-up approaches can only be checked with the help of independent top-down atmospheric storage measurements.
  • We recognize that bottom up–top down (two-sided or dual-constrained) verification on the spatial scale of countries,1 which permits discriminating a country’s Kyoto biosphere from its non-Kyoto biosphere, is unattainable.2 This is the reason why bottom up–top down verification must be complemented by temporal verification.3
  • For a number of reasons (see Section 1.1.2), VT calculations are carried out on the global scale. However, the key idea underlying these calculations is that temporal verification conditions on sub-global scales are simulated.
  • This research addresses temporal verification of GHG emission changes (also termed emission signals) under the Kyoto Protocol. In this context, the term risk refers to the degree of probability, with which the VT of a GHG emitting or absorbing system can be specified, while its (linear) dynamical behavior is assumed not to change.
  • Here, the temporal verification concept is applied diagnostically. However, it can also be applied prognostically. In this context, we note that this is when the term temporal verification becomes misleading and should be replaced by the term signal detection. (Prognoses can, as a matter of principle, not be verified.)
  • In general, the literature references mentioned in this Excel file can be found in Hudz (2002). However, if this is not the case, the additional references are provided in footnotes.

Background to Hudz (2002)

During the summer of 2002, Halyna Hudz from the State Scientific and Research Institute of Information Infrastructure in Lviv, Ukraine, was a participant in IIASA’s Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP) affiliated with the Forestry (FOR) Project.

Her research related to the investigations of uncertainty, verification, and risk management under the Kyoto Protocol.