RELEASE: Launch of Two New Greenhouse Gas Standards to Improve Climate Policies, Design and Track Progress towards Mitigation Goals

WASHINGTON, DC (November 18, 2014) For the first time, governments now have consistent, reliable methods to account for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions from their climate policies and goals.

Today, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) launched two new standards to help governments design better policies and emissions reductions goals, and measure progress against them. Developed by World Resources Institute (WRI), the Mitigation Goal Standard and Policy and Action Standard will enable policymakers and analysts to set robust mitigation goals, improve policies, and track progress to meet climate goals.

“The new GHG Protocol Mitigation Goal Standard can bolster transparency in the international climate negotiations in Lima and all the way to Paris,” said Jennifer Morgan, Director, Climate and Energy Program, WRI. “For too many years we have been comparing apples to oranges without a consistent way of setting climate goals and measuring progress. This standard lifts the veil of uncertainty that has shrouded countries’ climate targets for too long.”

Currently under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) countries use different approaches with varying assumptions and methodologies, which makes it challenging to ascertain the effectiveness of efforts to curb emissions globally. The Mitigation Goal Standard resolves this problem by offering a standardized methodology developed through an international stakeholder process and piloted in several jurisdictions.

The Mitigation Goal Standard establishes robust and transparent emissions accounting and reporting practices for governments to track progress toward reaching their overarching reduction target, shape their post-2020 climate goals and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches.

“We greatly appreciate World Resources Institute’s leadership in developing these standards,” said Katia Simeonova, Manager of the Mitigation, Data and Analysis Programme at the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat. “They can help advance robust climate action by national and subnational governments and can play a helpful role in the UNFCCC process in the lead up to the 2015 Paris climate summit and beyond."

The Policy and Action Standard helps estimate the GHG impact of policies and actions in order to improve their effectiveness in reducing emissions. Analysts from national and local governments can evaluate the GHG impacts of specific policies, as well as some socio-economic and environmental effects, to inform where to shift resources to achieve the best results.

“With the costs of climate change mounting, it is more important than ever that policies achieve emission reductions as intended,” said Pankaj Bhatia, Director, GHG Protocol, WRI. “The Policy and Action Standard can now help governments at all levels determine if their actions are effective and respond accordingly.”

Over 270 participants—government leaders, NGOs representatives and academics – from 40 countries were involved in developing the two new standards. Both standards are applicable to national, city and other subnational governments. Already they have been used to assess a total of 32 policies or goals in 20 countries, including:

  • The United Kingdom Climate Change Committee used the Mitigation Goal Standard to report on the design of the Climate Change Act of 2008. The assessment helped show the advantages of setting greenhouse gas reduction goals spanning multiple years versus a single year. Multi-year goals are preferable because they are designed to limit cumulative emissions over several years and can allow some flexibility year-to-year.

  • In 2005, the City of Seattle in the United States adopted a goal to cut emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) used the Mitigation Goal Standard to determine if Seattle reached the goal in time and found that in 2012 Seattle exceeded its allowable emissions by 0.34 Mt CO2e, thus not reaching its target.

  • Tunisia launched the renewable energy support program PROSOL Elec in 2010 to promote and support the use of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in residential and commercial buildings. The National Agency for Energy Conversation (ANME) of Tunisia used the Policy and Action Standard to estimate the program’s expected future emissions reductions. ANME estimates the program will avoid 4 million tons of CO2 between 2014 and 2030.

  • The German Renewable Energy Act, which came into force in 2000, has advanced renewable electricity generation in Germany by establishing policies that give renewable energy preferential access to the power grid over fossil fuels and nuclear energy. The research institute Öko-Institut used the Policy and Action Standard to estimate the future impact of the policy. The institute found that the policy is expected to avoid 100 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 annually in 2020, 120 Mt annually in 2030, and 150 Mt annually in 2040.

WRI is currently organizing a series of regional workshops around the world to educate policymakers on the standards and use them to shape national contributions ahead of the Paris climate negotiations in December 2015.

The new standards are available at www.ghgprotocol.org/mitigation-goal-standard and www.ghgprotocol.org/policy-and-action-standard.