Flawed CO2 Data from DC Think Tank Undermines Climate Diplomacy

March 25, 2009

WASHINGTON, March 25 /PRNewswire/ — Flawed mathematical modeling rarely makes for a sexy story, but the latest round of CO2 data errors are heating up. The Center for Global Development’s (CGD) carbon monitoring project, CARMA, has placed China atop the heap of bad-guy emitters, prompting a flurry of cross-pacific finger pointing. But the numbers are wrong.

An independent audit conducted by data company Performeks LLC found that CARMA overestimated the CO2 emissions of its worst ranked emitter, a Chinese power company, by more than 80 million tons. CO2 over-estimates for CARMA’s first, sixth and ninth ranked carbon emitting companies, China’s Huaneng, Datang and Huadian, total 148 million tons of CO2.

In addition to errors at the company level, there are problems at the plant-level. Auditing uncovered an astounding 76 million tons of extraneous CO2 in just 13 Chinese plants.

That would be on the same scale as the 80-100 million-ton CO2 overestimation that crippled Europe’s carbon market in ETS-Phase-1, except that those overestimates were amassed from thousands of installations, compared to CARMA’s 13. The magnitude of these errors is enough to cast doubts on CARMA’s claim that China has surpassed the United States as “the world’s biggest emitter of CO2 from power generation.”

CARMA’s condemnations are not unique, but neither are they justified. “Mistrust of China in the United States on the topic of climate change is fueled by rampant misinformation,” said Lawrence Berkeley Lab expert Mark Levine in a 2008 presentation. Data from the BP statistical review of World Energy and the World Bank Development Indicators support his assertion.

The CGD attributes the gap to differences in ownership classifications for China’s Huaneng Power. Defining company holdings, says research assistant Kevin Ummel, “can be tricky given the complex ownership arrangements and [risk-shielding] LLCs.” But CARMA’s data supplier, Platts, could be outdated. “It’s possible Huaneng sold plants or changed ownership structure in some manner that has not yet made its way into Platts,” he says.

Platts data was 17 years outdated in at least one case. CARMA data held China Light & Power (CLP) culpable for hypothetical emissions on a plant that had closed in the early 1990s. The same problem persists — CARMA currently lists Torrens Island plant among CLP’s holdings — it was sold in 2007.

CLP has reported site-specific CO2 emissions since 2002 and supplied detailed data to CARMA, but to no avail. Dr. Jeanne Ng, Director of Environmental Affairs at CLP, is deeply dissatisfied. “Not only has CARMA not updated their inventory to reflect all the data and information that is publicly available on CLP, we are confounded that they have adopted a methodology that is not consistent with the GHG Protocol.”

The GHG Protocol is the international standard for greenhouse gas accounting, established by the World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Universally accepted for a decade, it is now harmonized with the International Organization for Standardization, creating much-needed methodological consistency and full transparency for global CO2 reporting. In contrast, CGD’s unilaterally introduced methodology uses extrapolations from a CO2 database of largely U.S. power plants — not a single installation in mainland China is included in this CO2 emissions database. The full database is not publicly available, defeating CARMA’s principle goal of transparency.

Given that CARMA’s methodology is incompatible with the GHG Protocol, USEPA’s CO2 reporting rule and the EU Directive for CO2 monitoring and verification, the value of CARMA’s data seems as opaque as its methodology.

    Kendyl Salcito           +1.303.514.1522 kendylsalcito@gmail.com
    Shakeb Afsah             +1.202.390.0340 shakebafsah@performeks.com
    More Information:        www.ClimateDataDueDiligence.org

SOURCE Performeks LLC

Source: newswire

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