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Greenhouse Gas and Black Carbon Tracking – an Issue for North America

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Environmental officials and businesses have a very difficult time estimating the impact of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction measures between countries or regions of North America due to completely different standards. To improve statistical comparability, Canada, Mexico, and the United States are trying to unify the standards for emissions data.

The goal is to work through the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to advance domestic carbon emissions objectives, standards, regulations, and policies by 2015.

By going through the CEC, Canada, Mexico, and the United States are evaluating the comparability of emissions data down to subnational levels in order to determine what needs to be changed and how to unify standards so that all three countries are on the same page when it comes to understanding the data.

Currently, North America has many different GHG-reporting systems, ranging from the mandatory to the voluntary; these are at national and subnational levels. These have varying degrees of detail and complexity. Jurisdiction seems to determine GHG reporting requirements for industrial sources.

Black carbon, a short-lived climate forcer that is an airborne fine aerosol particle that is a potent source of human-induced climate change, is also a problem and is discussed in the report. Combustion processes are a primary source of black carbon emissions.

Details form the report includes the finding that energy is the largest source category of GHG emissions for Canada, Mexico, and the United States, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to develop a standard for producing black carbon inventory. The investigation also determined the United States and Canada produce more detailed reports than Mexico.

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