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U.S. Community Protocol for Accounting and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Posted by Content Coordinator on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012



1.1 Purpose and Scope of the Community Protocol

This U.S. Community Protocol for Accounting and Reporting Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Community Protocol) is designed to inspire and guide U.S. local governments to account for and report on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the communities they represent.

Many chemical compounds found in the Earth’s atmosphere act as and are referred to as “greenhouse gases” that allow sunlight to enter the atmosphere and prevent infrared radiation from escaping back to space.2 This affects global climate and temperatures. GHG emissions occur from natural processes (biogenic and physical) and also from human activities and sources (anthropogenic) such as the burning of fossil fuels. A near unanimous scientific consensus has emerged that increasing concentrations of GHG emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere results in increased average global temperatures. This, in turn, leads to changes in the Earth’s climate that are detrimental to our economies and environment. Therefore, it is important to measure and decrease anthropogenic GHG emissions. This Protocol addresses the six internationally recognized greenhouse gases regulated under the Kyoto Protocol:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2);
  • Methane (CH4);
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O);
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs);
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs); and
  • Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

Local governments account for and report on community GHG emissions data using a tool known as a GHG emissions inventory. A GHG emissions inventory estimates the quantity of GHG emissions associated with community sources and activities taking place during a chosen analysis year. By conducting additional inventories every three to five years and presenting data over time, local governments can use community GHG emissions inventory reports to provide information on trends in GHG emissions associated with a given community. Local governments may choose to develop a community GHG emissions inventory report for a number of reasons, including to:

  • inform climate action planning
  •  demonstrate accountability and leadership
  • track GHG emissions performance over time
  • motivate community action
  • recognize GHG emissions performance relative to similar communities
  • enable aggregation of GHG emissions data across regions, and
  • demonstrate compliance with regulations, voluntary agreements, and market standards (where applicable).

Community GHG emissions inventory reports typically focus on selected GHG emissions occurring within the jurisdictional boundary of the community (e.g., emissions from combustion of natural gas in furnaces throughout the community), as well as certain trans‐boundary emission sources associated with community activities (e.g., emissions from electricity generation at a power plant located outside the community associated with electricity use occurring in the community).

U.S. Community Protocol for Accounting and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

About ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability
“ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability is the leading global network devoted to local governments engaged in sustainability, climate protection, and clean energy initiatives.  In the United States, ICLEI USA is the recognized leader in its field, creating cutting-edge tools and establishing national standards.”


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