Verifying greenhouse gas emissions of Annex i parties: Methods we have and methods we want

Alexander Zahar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the hopeful prediction in the New York Times story, we are very far from being able to use satellites to verify compliance with the Kyoto Protocol's caps on greenhouse gas emissions of Annex I states. The problem is not only one of insufficiently developed or installed technology. "Satellite verification" would also mean changing the current system of reporting-and-review of state emissions, opening it up to independent scrutiny, and making it less forgiving of state evasiveness and ambiguity about emissions than it is now. Some states will be interested in this proposal and others will not. In any event, the current MRV system, built on bottom-up state reporting, will remain the dominant framework of international GHG emissions knowledge for the foreseeable future. To safeguard its own credibility, it must progressively be strengthened. In this article I outline the existing verification regime's main shortcomings and argue that the most efficient way around them is to incorporate into the current MRV system top-down (satellite and surface) measurements, resolved by modeling software at the state level, and produced by independent scientific experts in cooperation with the UNFCCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-427
Number of pages19
JournalClimate Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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