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Towards a robust and comprehensive greenhouse gas verification system

Actions should quantify more accurately the stocks and fluxes of CO2, CH4, and N2O in Europe at both regional and continental scales through improved descriptions of key processes and feedbacks, state-of-the art methodologies, models and tools and by exploiting observations from a wide range of monitoring networks (in-situ and satellite). Special attention should be given to independent verification of data reported in countries' greenhouse gas inventories and to the improvement of the methods/approaches currently used for estimating greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. national inventories, tracer transport inversion using atmospheric and oceanic measurements, land-use measurements and models). Proposals should aim to develop widely accepted and scientifically robust methodologies in order to decrease to acceptable levels uncertainties associated with emission estimates and better identify human-induced emissions. The development and improvement of methodologies should also address the need for versatility of application, for example for the tracking of land-based mitigation activities and provision of results relevant to current and potential future land-based GHG accounting systems. Furthermore, issues such as data standards, transfer of information and tools, and replicability of methodologies and tools outside Europe (mainly in developing countries) should also be addressed.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

According the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report, atmospheric concentrations of CO2, CH4 and N2O have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800 000 years. CO2 alone has increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and also from net land use change emissions. Trust in any international agreement under UNFCCC aimed at limiting global warming will depend on our ability to make accurate estimates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as provision of mitigation services allowing robust reporting and verification against independent data and analyses.

However, a better understanding of the carbon and nitrogen cycle in the earth-climate system remains one of the key knowledge gaps. It is therefore essential that we increase our capability to identify more accurately the stocks and fluxes of these important greenhouse gases and at the same time develop methods and technologies that will enable us within the next five to ten years to accurately estimate and also verify CO2, CH4 and N2O emissions from key sources.

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • facilitating the development of an operationalised greenhouse gas monitoring, reporting and independent verification system;
  • improving the ability to monitor and verify greenhouse gas emissions under an international climate agreement by significantly decreasing current uncertainties associated with greenhouse gas emission estimations;
  • supporting EU climate policies by providing reliable information on greenhouse gases in Europe over appropriate spatial and temporal scales;
  • providing input (such as data, models, methods) to key international programs and assessments (Global Carbon Project, IPCC, Future Earth);
  • implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 13 'Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts', as well as the conclusions of the COP21 Paris Agreement.