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entitled 'Climate Change: Selected Nations' Reports on Greenhouse Gas 
Emissions Varied in Their Adherence to Standards' which was released on 
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Report to Congressional Requesters:

December 2003:

CLIMATE CHANGE:

Selected Nations' Reports on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Varied in Their 
Adherence to Standards:

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-98] GAO-04-98:

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-04-98, a report to the Chairmen, Committee on Energy 
and Commerce and its Subcommittees on Energy and Air Quality and 
Oversight and Investigations, House of Representatives

Why GAO Did This Study:

In 1992, the United States and other parties, including both developed 
and developing nations, agreed to try to limit dangerous human 
interference with the climate by participating in the United Nations 
Framework Convention on Climate Change. The parties agreed, among 
other things, to report on their emissions of carbon dioxide and five 
other gases whose buildup in the atmosphere is believed to affect the 
climate. The parties developed standards for these reports and 
processes for periodically evaluating the reports. Expert teams 
selected by the parties review the developed nationsí reports; staff 
of the Framework Conventionís administrative arm (the Secretariat) 
assess developing nationsí reports. GAO agreed to describe the results 
of the most recent reviews and assessments of reports from selected 
economically developed and developing nations, as well as the partiesí 
plans to improve the reports.

For the developed nations, GAO agreed to study four geographically 
dispersed nations with high levels of emissionsóGermany, Japan, the 
United Kingdom, and the United States. For the developing nations, GAO 
studied China, India, and Mexico, which also have high emissions 
levels and are geographically dispersed. These nations are not 
representative of others; therefore, GAOís findings cannot be 
generalized.

What GAO Found:

In their most recent reviews, expert teams found that the United 
Kingdomís 2000 and 2002 reports on greenhouse gas emissions and the 
United Statesís 2000 report were largely complete, although the teams 
noted minor findings, such as the lack of information on quality 
assurance methods, which the nations were encouraged, but not 
required, to include in their submissions. In contrast, they found 
that Germanyís 2001 and Japanís 2000 reports lacked critical elements, 
such as the required documentation that was essential to understanding 
them. Preliminary checks found that all four nationsí 2003 reports 
were largely complete. 

Secretariat staff have not assessed inventories from China and India 
because these nations have not submitted them. According to 
Secretariat records, China and India plan to submit inventories in 
February 2004 and November 2003, respectively. Secretariat staff 
assessed Mexicoís most recent inventory, but they reported few details 
about it because their policy is to consolidate the findings of all 
the developing nationsí inventories submitted during a year.

To improve the inventories, the parties are changing the reporting 
standards and review process. For example, starting in 2004, developed 
nations must present their inventory reports in a standardized format 
to facilitate review, and developing nations must report data for more 
years and gases than before. Also, in 2003, the parties began 
conducting more rigorous reviews of developed nationsí inventories, 
but no such changes for developing nations are planned.

What GAO Recommends:

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-98.

To view the full report, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact John Stephenson, 
202-512-3841 or stephensonj@gao.gov.

[End of section]

Contents:

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

Recent Reviews Found That U.K. and U.S. Inventories Were Largely 
Complete, but German and Japanese Inventories Lacked Critical 
Elements:

Little Nation-Specific Inventory Information Is Available for the Three 
Developing Nations: 

The Four Developed Nations Reported Generally High Confidence in Their 
Latest Emissions Data, but Future Assessments of Confidence Must Be 
More Precise: 

The Parties Are Taking Steps to Improve the Quality of Emissions Data: 

Scope and Methodology: 

Agency Comments: 

Appendixes:

Appendix I: Results of Expert Reviews of the Four Developed Nations' 
Inventories: 

Appendix II: GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contacts: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

Tables: 

Table 1: Comparative Statistics of the Seven Nations in Our Study: 

Table 2: Four Developed Nations' Ratings of Confidence in Their Data 
for Total Emissions in 2001: 

Table 3: Results of the Most Recent Expert Reviews of the Four 
Developed Nations' Inventories: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Developed and Developing Nations 
and Nations with Economies in Transition, 1970 through 2025, Actual and 
Projected: 

Figure 2: Carbon Dioxide Emissions for the Seven Nations in Our Study, 
Actual and Projected: 

Abbreviations: 

EIA: Energy Information Administration:

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency:

IPCC: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

Letter 
December 23, 2003:

The Honorable W.J. "Billy" Tauzin: 
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Commerce: 
House of Representatives:

The Honorable Joe Barton: 
Chairman, Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality: 
Committee on Energy and Commerce: 
House of Representatives:

The Honorable James Greenwood: 
Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: 
Committee on Energy and Commerce: 
House of Representatives:

The Congress recently debated the need to limit U.S. emissions of the 
so-called "greenhouse gases"--whose buildup in the atmosphere is widely 
believed to adversely affect the climate. This debate dates back to at 
least 1992, when the United States and most of the other nations of the 
world took steps toward ensuring that worldwide progress in reducing 
greenhouse gas emissions could eventually be measured. At that time, 
the nations negotiated the United Nations Framework Convention on 
Climate Change (hereafter called the Framework Convention) with the aim 
of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and five 
other greenhouse gases.[Footnote 1] The nations also agreed to 
periodically report on their greenhouse gas emissions.[Footnote 2]

As of November 2003, 188 parties had ratified the Framework Convention, 
including the United States.[Footnote 3] Of this total, 40 parties--39 
nations and the European Union as a whole--are listed in Annex I of the 
convention. The 39 Annex I nations include the economically developed 
nations of the world as well as nations whose economies are in 
transition, including the Russian Federation, the Baltic states, and 
several central and eastern European nations. The Annex I nations have 
agreed to report annually on their emissions levels. The annual 
reports, called inventories, generally reflect estimated--rather than 
directly measured--data. The remaining 148 nations that are party to 
the Framework Convention but are not included in Annex I--"non-Annex I 
nations"--are generally classified as economically developing nations. 
These nations also agreed to report on their emissions, but in less 
detail and less frequently than the Annex I nations.

Recognizing that good-quality data on all nations' greenhouse gas 
emissions are critical to determining whether the Framework Convention 
is successful at stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, the 
parties to the convention are working in several ways to ensure the 
quality of the emissions data that nations report. First, with 
technical assistance from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 
(IPCC),[Footnote 4] the parties developed extensive procedures for all 
nations to follow when estimating and reporting their greenhouse gas 
emissions and removals (removals offset emissions--for example, forests 
absorb carbon dioxide, removing it from the air). In addition, the 
developed Annex I nations agreed to provide funds to help the non-Annex 
I nations develop their inventories. Finally, the parties agreed that 
nations' estimates of their emissions, and the documentation that 
supports these estimates, would undergo one of two main types of 
review: one for Annex I nations and another for non-Annex I nations. 
Annex I nations' inventories periodically undergo individual reviews 
performed by teams of experts assembled from the party nations. The 
expert reviews are extensive, examining all aspects of each inventory 
and its preparation to determine whether the inventory complied with 
the estimating and reporting procedures. The Framework Convention's 
administrative arm, the Secretariat, publishes a report on the findings 
of each nation's individual expert review. Non-Annex I nations' 
inventories are assessed by Secretariat staff, who examine all such 
inventories submitted during the year. The assessment is less extensive 
and evaluative than the review of Annex I nations' submissions. It 
focuses on identifying problems that the developing nations have had 
with preparing and reporting their inventories and ways to improve 
them. The Secretariat issues one report each year discussing its 
findings on the non-Annex I nations' inventories in summary format, 
with few nation-specific details.

We agreed with your offices to (1) describe the results of the most 
recent expert reviews of the greenhouse gas inventories submitted by 
four economically developed nations--Germany, Japan, the United 
Kingdom, and the United States; (2) describe the results of any 
assessments of the inventories of three developing nations--China, 
India, and Mexico; (3) determine the extent to which the developed 
nations have confidence in the quality of their inventory data, and 
describe any changes that the parties to the Framework Convention have 
made to requirements for assessing data confidence in the future; and 
(4) describe any steps that the parties to the Framework Convention are 
taking as a group to improve the quality of future inventories, 
including when such improvements might be in place.

Also as agreed with your offices, in examining these issues, we did not 
independently review the nations' inventories to assess their quality. 
Instead, we examined the guidance developed for the nations and the 
requirements they are to meet in preparing and reporting their 
greenhouse gas inventories and believe the guidance provides reasonable 
parameters for ensuring good-quality inventory data. We also examined 
the methodology for the reviews of developed nations' inventories and 
believe it provides reasonable help to reviewers in evaluating the 
quality of inventories. We relied on the findings of the reviews as 
reported by the Secretariat. Regarding the Annex I nations, we agreed 
to study the two European Union nations and the two non-European Union 
nations with the highest levels of emissions that are developed 
nations, according to the most recent data available to the United 
Nations (2001). Although some nations that are considered Annex I 
nations have economies in transition and emit significant levels of 
greenhouse gases, as agreed, we did not include them in our study. 
Regarding the non-Annex I nations--developing nations--we agreed to 
study China, India, and Mexico because of their high levels of 
greenhouse gas emissions and geographic dispersion. These seven nations 
are not necessarily representative of other parties to the Framework 
Convention; accordingly, our findings are not generalizable to the 
other parties. Although we spoke with U.S. officials who are 
responsible for assembling and managing the U.S. inventory, we did not 
speak with comparable officials in the other six nations. It is our 
policy to contact foreign government officials through the U.S. 
Department of State, and we asked the department to facilitate that 
contact; however, the department did not arrange for those contacts 
during our review. State Department officials asserted that issues of 
reporting and review under the Framework Convention have been 
particularly sensitive for the developing nations; also, foreign 
governments might not readily grasp the different roles of the General 
Accounting Office and the State Department. As a result, according to 
State Department officials, some governments might view a request of 
this nature from the United States as intrusive, raising suspicions 
about the underlying purpose of such a study.

Results in Brief:

The most recent expert reviews of the greenhouse gas inventories 
submitted by Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States 
found that the U.K. and U.S. submissions were largely complete, while 
Germany's and Japan's submissions lacked certain critical elements. At 
the time of our study, the most recent expert reviews were for 
inventories submitted by Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United 
States in 2000; by Germany in 2001; and by the United Kingdom in 2002. 
The reviews of the U.K. and U.S. inventories found they contained 
nearly all of the required information and noted only relatively minor 
problems, such as not providing information on the quality assurance 
procedures used. Accordingly, the experts' suggestions for improving 
those submissions were not substantial; for example, the expert review 
report for the 2000 U.K. submission suggested that the United Kingdom 
archive all of the documentation supporting its inventory in one 
location or on the Web. In contrast, the reviews of Germany's and 
Japan's inventories found that both were missing some important 
elements. For example, both submissions lacked the required report 
explaining how the emissions estimates were developed. The experts 
suggested fundamental improvements for future inventories, such as 
submitting all of the required information. The Secretariat's 
preliminary examination of all four nations' 2003 submissions found 
that they were largely complete and contained national inventory 
reports.

Neither China nor India has submitted an inventory to the Secretariat; 
Mexico submitted an inventory as recently as 2001, which the 
Secretariat assessed. According to the Secretariat, China and India are 
preparing their initial inventories, which, under the Framework 
Convention, are due within 3 years of when the convention entered into 
force for that nation or when the financial assistance provided by the 
developed nations to help with reporting becomes available. According 
to the Secretariat, China's inventory is due by November 2004 and 
India's by July 2004. Regarding the Secretariat's assessment of 
Mexico's 2001 submission, little information that could be directly 
tied to Mexico was released. Instead, the Secretariat consolidated the 
results with those of the 51 other non-Annex I nations that it examined 
at the same time, as is its usual practice for the assessments.

The four developed nations reported generally high confidence in the 
emissions data presented in their most recent submissions; however, 
future assessments of confidence in these data must be quantified to 
produce more useful information. For the 2003 and previous submissions, 
developed nations were required to assess as high, medium, or low their 
confidence in their inventory data for each major emission source and 
removal. The developed nations could use either qualitative or 
quantitative methods for making those assessments, and no criteria 
existed for determining which of the three categories was the most 
appropriate. In their 2003 submissions, all four developed nations 
reported that they had high confidence in at least 75 percent of their 
total emissions data, largely because most emissions are carbon 
dioxide, which is relatively easy to estimate with a high degree of 
accuracy. Effective next year, the developed nations are required to 
assess their confidence in their data using quantitative methods and to 
report numerical ratings instead of reporting by the three categories 
(high, medium, or low). The parties consider using quantitative methods 
to be the better practice because the resulting numerical ratings give 
a more precise assessment of nations' confidence in their data and make 
it easier for the nations to set priorities when deciding how to 
improve the accuracy of the inventories.

To improve the quality of data on greenhouse gas emissions, the parties 
to the Framework Convention are refining their requirements for 
nations' inventories and bolstering their review processes, with the 
changes to take effect over the next few years. Changes to the 
inventory requirements affect both Annex I and non-Annex I nations. For 
example, in addition to the new requirement for performing a quantified 
assessment of data confidence, Annex I nations will be required to 
structure the documentation that explains the inventories according to 
a standardized format beginning with their 2004 submissions. For non-
Annex I nations, the revised requirements are intended to encourage 
more of the nations to submit inventories as well as to improve the 
quality of the inventories. For example, as of 2003, non-Annex I 
nations that have not yet submitted their first inventories must submit 
data for either 1990 or 1994 in their first submissions, and all non-
Annex I nations must include data for 2000 when they submit their 
second inventories. This is in contrast to the requirement that Annex I 
nations annually report data for all years, from 1990 to the present. 
In addition, the parties plan to bolster the expert review process for 
Annex I nations. For example, until this year, only a portion of the 39 
Annex I nations underwent an expert review each year; however, 
beginning with the 2003 submissions, each of the 39 nations will be 
subject to an annual expert review. The changes to the review process 
are intended to standardize it and to ensure that reviews are conducted 
effectively and consistently. According to the Secretariat, the parties 
have no plans to change the assessment process for non-Annex I nations' 
inventories, but the new reporting guidance for non-Annex I nations is 
designed to facilitate any assessment process changes that the parties 
might institute in the future.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for 
preparing the U.S. submission, provided clarifying comments on a draft 
of this report, which we incorporated as appropriate. We also requested 
comments from the State Department and the Framework Convention 
Secretariat, but none were provided.

Background:

Scientists have discovered that changes in the earth's climate are 
induced by the increasing concentrations of certain gases in the 
earth's atmosphere--some naturally occurring, others human-induced--
that have the potential to significantly alter the planet's heat and 
radiation balance. These so-called "greenhouse gases" trap some of the 
sun's energy and prevent it from returning to space. The trapped energy 
warms the earth's climate, much like glass in a greenhouse. Over the 
past century, humans have contributed to the greenhouse effect, 
particularly by burning fossil fuels, which increased atmospheric 
carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The effects of a warmer 
climate could have important consequences for human health and welfare 
by, among other things, altering weather patterns, changing crop 
yields, and leading to the flooding of coastal areas.

According to the Department of Energy's Energy Information 
Administration (EIA), in 2001, the most recent year for which data are 
available, the United States and other developed nations accounted for 
just under half (47 percent) of the world's emissions of carbon 
dioxide--the most prevalent greenhouse gas. The other emissions came 
from economically developing nations, including China, India, and 
Mexico (40 percent), and from nations with economies in transition (13 
percent) in Europe and the Former Soviet Union. EIA projects that, over 
the next 2 decades, carbon dioxide emissions from each of the three 
nation groups will increase; however, carbon dioxide emissions from 
developing nations will increase most dramatically, surpassing those of 
developed nations by 2015, as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Developed and Developing Nations 
and Nations with Economies in Transition, 1970 through 2025, Actual and 
Projected:

[See PDF for image]

Note: The Energy Information Administration includes data on Croatia's 
and Slovenia's emissions with those of the developed nations, rather 
than with emissions data from the other nations with economies in 
transition.

[End of figure]

More specifically, figure 2 shows actual and projected carbon dioxide 
emissions for the seven nations in our study. Growth in emissions 
between 2001 and 2025 is projected to range from 29 million metric tons 
for the United Kingdom to 1,012 for China.

Figure 2: Carbon Dioxide Emissions for the Seven Nations in Our Study, 
Actual and Projected:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

The seven nations in our study also differ greatly in terms of their 
population and per capita income (an indicator of economic 
development). For example, population ranged from about 60 million in 
the United Kingdom to nearly 1.3 billion in China, and per capita 
income ranged from $2,540 in India to $36,300 in the United States. 
(See table 1.):

Table 1: Comparative Statistics of the Seven Nations in Our Study:

Nation: Economically developed nations.

Nation: Germany; Estimated population: 2002 (millions): Economically 
developed nations: 83.3; Per capita income, 2001 or 2002: Economically 
developed nations: $26,600 (2002).

Nation: Japan; Estimated population: 2002 (millions): Economically 
developed nations: 127.0; Per capita income, 2001 or 2002: Economically 
developed nations: 28,000 (2002).

Nation: United Kingdom; Estimated population: 2002 (millions): 
Economically developed nations: 60.0; Per capita income, 2001 or 2002: 
Economically developed nations: 25,300 (2002).

Nation: United States; Estimated population: 2002 (millions): 
Economically developed nations: 281.0; Per capita income, 2001 or 2002: 
Economically developed nations: 36,300 (2001).

Nation: Economically developing nations.

Nation: China; Estimated population: 2002 (millions): Economically 
developed nations: 1,284.3; Per capita income, 2001 or 2002: 
Economically developed nations: 4,600 (2002).

Nation: India; Estimated population: 2002 (millions): Economically 
developed nations: 1,045.8; Per capita income, 2001 or 2002: 
Economically developed nations: 2,540 (2002).

Nation: Mexico; Estimated population: 2002 (millions): Economically 
developed nations: 103.4; Per capita income, 2001 or 2002: Economically 
developed nations: 9,000 (2001).

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, The World Fact Book (2002).

Notes:

Some figures have been rounded.

Estimated per capita income is based on purchasing power parity rates. 
Purchasing power parity is based on the assumption that a unit of 
currency, such as a dollar, should be able to buy the same bundle of 
goods in all countries.

[End of table]

Under the Framework Convention, the United States and the other parties 
generally agreed to implement policies and measures aimed at returning 
"individually or jointly to their 1990 levels these anthropogenic 
[human-caused] emissions" of greenhouse gases not covered by another 
treaty, the Montreal Protocol.[Footnote 5] The six primary gases 
covered by the Framework Convention are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, 
methane, and three synthetic gases--sulfur hexafluoride, 
hydrofluorocarbons, and perfluorocarbons. Emissions of these gases are 
generally not measured because doing so would be too costly; 
consequently, they must be estimated.[Footnote 6] In this regard, the 
IPCC, at the parties' request, developed detailed guidance on 
methodologies for nations to use when estimating their emissions and 
revised that guidance twice, most recently in 1999. Both developed and 
developing nations are required to follow this guidance--Revised 1996 
IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories--when preparing 
their inventories. In addition, in 2000, the IPCC published--also at 
the parties' request--its Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty 
Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, which contains 
information on prioritizing tasks to arrive at the best possible 
estimates using finite resources as well as advice on establishing 
quality assurance programs, among other things. The nations have been 
encouraged, but not required, to follow the good practice guidance.

The parties to the Framework Convention also agreed to report 
periodically to the Secretariat on their levels of greenhouse gas 
emissions. For Annex I nations, those reports are extensive. Annually, 
each Annex I nation is required to submit inventory data--in a common 
reporting format the parties themselves agreed to--as well as a 
national inventory report that explains how the data in the common 
reporting format were derived. The common reporting format calls for 
data for each of the six emissions sectors--energy, industrial 
processes, solvent and other product use, agriculture, land-use change 
and forestry, and waste--as well as for the data on the major sources 
that contribute to emissions from each sector. The inventory data are 
to reflect a nation's most recent reporting year as well as all 
previous years back to the base year, which is 1990.[Footnote 7] For 
each year, the common reporting format calls for 42 tables containing 
over 8,100 items that are sector-specific numbers; data summarized 
across sectors; and other information, such as trends from the base 
year to the current reporting year, recalculations of prior years' 
data, and reasons certain emissions were not estimated. The parties 
require that data be submitted in the common reporting format to 
facilitate comparison across nations and to make it easier to review 
the data. Because an inventory contains data from the base year to the 
most recent reporting year, each year's submission is larger than the 
last. The 2003 reporting format called for approximately 98,000 items 
of inventory data and other information from 1990 through 2001.

The national inventory report, the second component of the submission, 
should be detailed and complete enough to enable reviewers to 
understand and evaluate the inventory. The report should include, among 
other things, descriptions of the methods used to estimate the data, 
the rationale for selecting the methods used, and information about the 
complexity of methods and the resulting precision of the estimates; 
information on quality assurance procedures used; discussion of any 
recalculations affecting previously submitted inventory data; and 
information on improvements planned for future inventories.

Each year, when Secretariat staff receive Annex I nations' submissions, 
they perform an initial check to determine whether the submissions are 
complete and then synthesize the information to facilitate comparison 
across nations. Teams of expert reviewers--comprising members chosen by 
the parties for their sector expertise as well as to achieve broad 
geographic representation--also use this synthesized information to 
identify issues requiring clarification during their reviews of 
individual submissions.

From 2000 through 2002, the parties tested the usefulness of three 
methods of conducting expert reviews on selected submissions from Annex 
I nations. The first type of review, called a desk review, consists of 
about 10 experts spending about 4 weeks in their respective nations 
reviewing information on the same three nations' inventories. For this 
type of review, the experts communicate with each other and the nation 
being reviewed via the Internet and telephone. The second type of 
review, called a centralized review, involves about 10 experts spending 
about a week at the Secretariat's headquarters in Bonn, Germany, 
jointly reviewing between four and six nations' inventories. The third 
review type, called an in-country review, consists of a team of about 5 
experts spending a week in the nation whose inventory is being 
reviewed, jointly examining the nation's inventory and supporting 
information. The Secretariat chose inventories of different levels of 
completeness to undergo desk and centralized reviews; only nations that 
volunteered for an in-country review received one.

During the 3-year test period, the experts examined the data and 
supporting information the nations used to prepare the inventories via 
all three types of reviews. For example, the experts determined whether 
a nation calculated its emissions estimates using formulas from 
published data sources or formulas specified by the parties. The 
experts also verified the information provided in response to questions 
raised in previous reviews. Finally, the experts summarized the 
inventories' strengths and weaknesses; made recommendations for 
improvement, if warranted; and presented their findings in reports that 
were both published and posted on the Internet.

For Annex I nations' submissions to be reviewed by the experts, the 
submissions must meet two criteria. Since 2000, the experts have 
reviewed only submissions that presented their data in the common 
reporting format, and, beginning with the 2003 submissions, the experts 
will review only submissions that include the national inventory 
report. According to the parties to the Framework Convention, the goal 
of the expert reviews is to identify areas in the inventories needing 
improvement; for this reason, the experts' reports do not rate the 
overall quality of the submissions, and the reports do not identify 
some findings as being more important than others. According to the 
Secretariat, since 1998, Annex I nations' submissions have steadily and 
substantially improved in their timeliness and completeness, and the 
expert review process has contributed to the improved quality of recent 
submissions.

Non-Annex I nations' requirements for format and frequency of reporting 
differ from those for Annex I nations. Although all parties to the 
Framework Convention are to develop their inventories using the revised 
1996 IPCC guidelines and submit the inventories to the Secretariat, 
non-Annex I nations' inventories are not stand-alone documents. Rather, 
a non-Annex I nation's inventory is a component of its national 
communication, which is a report it must submit to the Secretariat that 
discusses all of the steps the nation is taking or plans to take to 
implement the Framework Convention.[Footnote 8] In addition, non-Annex 
I nations are not required to use the common reporting format or to 
submit a national inventory report. Moreover, non-Annex I nations are 
not required to submit an inventory each year but may instead negotiate 
the frequency of their submissions. To date, most non-Annex I nations 
negotiated a deadline for only one inventory.[Footnote 9] To help the 
non-Annex I nations develop and report their inventories, the developed 
nations of Annex I provide financial assistance that is disbursed 
through the convention's financial mechanism, the Global Environment 
Facility. The facility, which funds various types of environmental 
projects in developing nations,[Footnote 10] disburses the funds, 
including those to assist non-Annex I nations with their emissions 
reporting, through implementing agencies, such as the United Nations 
Development Program. The implementing agencies, in turn, disburse the 
funds to the nations on a schedule and according to terms negotiated by 
the agency and each nation.

The inventory reviews and the extent to which the results are reported 
also differ for Annex I and non-Annex I nations. Reviews of Annex I 
nations' submissions focus on compliance with reporting standards, and 
the results are made publicly available in considerable detail. In 
contrast, because non-Annex I nations are generally in the early stages 
of developing their inventories and have limited resources to do so, 
assessments of their submissions, and the resulting reports, focus 
largely on providing a forum for the non-Annex I nations to exchange 
information on common reporting problems and best practices. 
Consequently, while the Secretariat makes reports on the results of 
non-Annex I assessments publicly available, it does so in summary 
format and provides only a few nation-specific details in tables that 
accompany the aggregated reports.

Recent Reviews Found That U.K. and U.S. Inventories Were Largely 
Complete, but German and Japanese Inventories Lacked Critical Elements:

The most recent expert reviews of inventories submitted by the four 
developed nations found that the U.K. and U.S. inventories contained 
most of the required elements, but the German and Japanese inventories 
were missing certain critical elements. Experts reviewed inventories 
variously submitted from 2000 through 2002 by each of the four 
developed nations in our study. The inventories submitted by Japan and 
Germany in 2000 and 2001, respectively, each received a centralized 
review. Two U.K. inventories were reviewed: the one submitted in 2000 
received an in-country review, and the one submitted in 2002 received a 
desk review. The inventory that the United States submitted in 2000 
received both an in-country review and a desk review. Although the 
experts planned to conduct reviews of all Annex I nations' inventories 
submitted in 2003, no results were available at the time of our study.

The reviews of the submissions of the United Kingdom and the United 
States found they were largely complete and noted only relatively minor 
problems. For example, the reviews of the two nations' 2000 submissions 
noted that neither submission included information on quality assurance 
procedures. Although the good practice guidance calls for including 
such information in the national inventory report, the nations were 
encouraged, but not required, to follow the good practice guidance for 
the 2000 submissions. Nonetheless, the experts included the lack of 
quality assurance documentation as a finding of the reviews. Because 
the problems noted were relatively minor, the suggestions for improving 
future submissions constituted refinements rather than recommendations 
for large-scale changes. For example, the experts' report on the 2000 
U.K. submission suggested archiving the documentation supporting the 
national inventory report in one location or on the Web. Similarly, the 
report on the desk review of the 2000 U.S. submission suggested that 
more details on the methods and factors used to estimate emissions for 
the land-use change and forestry sector would allow more complete 
assessment of that sector's data.

In contrast, the reviews of the German and Japanese submissions found 
them to be missing some critical components, and the experts' reports 
made suggestions for improvement that were fundamental in nature. For 
example, the review of Germany's 2001 submission found it contained 
only summary-level and trend data; it did not include any of the 
sector-specific data tables or recalculations of prior years' data 
called for by the common reporting format. Furthermore, the national 
inventory report was missing, so the reviewers could not determine 
whether problems noted in previous inventories had been addressed. 
Although the review of the Japanese 2000 submission found most of the 
data required by the common reporting format was included, like the 
German submission, this one lacked the national inventory report. As a 
result of these shortcomings, the experts suggested that Germany submit 
a complete set of data for all of the required years and sectors and 
that both nations submit the national inventory report. Additional 
details on the findings of the six expert reviews are contained in 
appendix I.

Although none of the four Annex I nations' latest submissions--for 
2003--had undergone an expert review as of November 2003, Secretariat 
staff had performed initial completeness checks on each of them. They 
found that all four nations' submissions contained most of the required 
data as well as the required national inventory reports.

Little Nation-Specific Inventory Information Is Available for the Three 
Developing Nations:

The Secretariat has not assessed any inventories from China and India 
because, as of November 2003, neither nation had submitted one. The 
Secretariat assessed Mexico's 2001 submission, but the Secretariat's 
practice is to issue one report on the findings of its assessments of 
all the inventories submitted during the year, with few nation-specific 
details. Therefore, the Secretariat made public little information 
about the results of its assessments that could be directly tied to 
Mexico.

According to the Secretariat, China and India are preparing their 
initial inventories, to be submitted as part of their first national 
communications. Under article 12, paragraph 5, of the Framework 
Convention, non-Annex I nations' first inventories are due to the 
Secretariat "within three years of the entry into force of the 
Framework Convention or of the availability of financial resources" 
from the developed nations in Annex I. According to the Secretariat, 
funding was approved for China in May 2000 and for India in December 
1999, and the first disbursements of funds took place in November 2001 
for China and in July 2001 for India. According to the Secretariat, the 
due dates for their first greenhouse gas inventories are no later than 
November 2004 for China and July 2004 for India.

Mexico submitted inventories in 1997 and 2001. Although 106 developing 
nations had submitted their initial inventories as of November 2003, 
Mexico is the only nation to have submitted more than one. Secretariat 
staff assessed Mexico's 2001 inventory, along with those of 51 other 
non-Annex I nations that submitted inventories that year. In keeping 
with its practice of reporting on its assessments of non-Annex I 
nations' inventories as a group, the report for 2001 contained only 
limited details that could be linked specifically to Mexico's 
inventory. In particular, the Secretariat reported that Mexico had 
improved its estimates of emissions from the energy, agriculture, and 
land-use change and forestry sectors. It also reported that Mexico 
could further improve its inventory by establishing systematic 
procedures for preparing the inventory annually and by including 
estimates for the solvent-use sector. Otherwise, the Secretariat 
reported only generally on the results of the assessments of 
submissions of the 52 non-Annex I nations' inventories.

Mexico's 2001 submission contained estimates for 1994, 1996, and 1998. 
According to an EPA official who is knowledgeable about Mexico's 
inventory, the 2001 Mexico inventory is of reasonably high quality, 
especially considering the limited resources Mexico has dedicated to 
developing it. According to its submission, Mexico followed the IPCC 
estimating guidelines and good practice guidance in preparing the 
inventory. The EPA official further commented that Mexico's 2001 
submission is among the best of those of the developing nations, and in 
some cases--for example, in presentation of its carbon dioxide 
emissions data--is equal to those of some developed nations. On the 
other hand, according to that official, Mexico did not (1) comply with 
the IPCC estimating guidelines in developing the land-use change and 
forestry sector data, (2) adequately estimate data for the three 
synthetic gases, or (3) provide adequate documentation explaining the 
inventory. Furthermore, Mexico developed its two inventories 
independent of each other, without establishing a process that would 
systematically make documentation and data additions and revisions as 
needed. Consequently, in the opinion of the EPA official, it was 
difficult for Mexico to build upon its previous efforts when preparing 
its second inventory.

The Four Developed Nations Reported Generally High Confidence in Their 
Latest Emissions Data, but Future Assessments of Confidence Must Be 
More Precise:

As required for the 2003 submissions, the four developed nations 
categorized their confidence in their emissions data as either high, 
medium, or low. All four nations reported their confidence in the data 
as generally high. To improve the usefulness of nations' assessments of 
data confidence, however, beginning with the 2004 submissions, 
developed nations must quantify their confidence assessments.

The Four Developed Nations Rated Their Confidence in Their Most Recent 
Emissions Data as Generally High:

As previously explained, the parties to the Framework Convention have 
constructed an extensive system of estimating and reporting 
requirements, buttressed by periodic reviews, to help nations produce 
inventory data that are of high quality. The parties do not attempt, on 
the basis of the reviews or any other means, to assign a grade or 
otherwise rate any nation's success in producing high-quality data. 
However, as one means of helping developed nations identify areas where 
their data can be strengthened, the parties require each nation to 
assess its confidence in the accuracy of its own data. Specifically, 
the nations are required annually to analyze the quality of the data 
they report (called an uncertainty analysis) for each gas and for each 
major source of emissions and removals in each of the six sectors. To 
do this, the nations have been encouraged, but not required, to use the 
quantitative methods of uncertainty analysis included in the IPCC good 
practice guidance. Alternatively, they could rely on qualitative means 
to determine their confidence in these data. In either case, they have 
been required to report whether they had high, medium, or low 
confidence in each estimate of emissions of each of the six gases by 
each major source of those emissions. The nations have not been 
required to report on their confidence in the accuracy of the inventory 
data as a whole. The parties did not provide further criteria for 
nations to use when determining which of the three categories was most 
appropriate.[Footnote 11]

As required, all four developed nations reported high, medium, or low 
ratings of confidence in their estimates for their 2001 emissions by 
source. To determine the confidence each nation had in its inventory 
data as a whole, we calculated the proportion of each nation's data 
that corresponded to each of the three rating categories. According to 
our calculations, all four nations rated their confidence in their 
inventory data as a whole as generally high, with the high-confidence 
ratings ranging from about 75 percent for the United States to about 96 
percent for Japan. The high-confidence ratings occurred largely because 
the lion's share of each nation's total emissions is carbon dioxide 
from fuel combustion, which can be estimated with a relatively high 
level of confidence. Table 2 shows each nation's ratings for total 
emissions by gigagrams of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is the unit 
of measurement used by the parties to the Framework Convention to allow 
comparisons among greenhouse gases, which differ in their effects on 
the atmosphere and expected lifetimes.

Table 2: Four Developed Nations' Ratings of Confidence in Their Data 
for Total Emissions in 2001:

Gigagrams of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Developed nations' ratings of confidence for total emissions:

Gigagrams of carbon dioxide equivalent: 

Nation: Germany: 
Amount rated high: 948,175; 
Percentage rated high: 93.1; 
Amount rated medium: 59,054; 
Percentage rated medium: 5.8; 
Amount rated low: 7,982; 
Percentage rated low: 0.8; 
Amount not rated: 3,817; 
Percentage not rated: 0.4.

Nation: Japan: 
Amount rated high: 1,244,048; 
Percentage rated high: 95.7; 
Amount rated medium: 20,056; 
Percentage rated medium: 1.5; 
Amount rated low: 35,326; 
Percentage rated low: 2.7; 
Amount not rated: 15; 
Percentage not rated: 0[A].

Nation: United Kingdom: 
Amount rated high: 561,274; 
Percentage rated high: 82.9; 
Amount rated medium: 53,907; 
Percentage rated medium: 8.0; 
Amount rated low: 62,036; 
Percentage rated low: 9.2; 
Amount not rated: 12; 
Percentage not rated: 0[A].

Nation: United States: 
Amount rated high: 5,670,596; 
Percentage rated high: 72.9; 
Amount rated medium: 1,462,157; 
Percentage rated medium: 18.8; 
Amount rated low: 567,775; 
Percentage rated low: 7.3; 
Amount not rated: 73,816; 
Percentage not rated: 1.0. 

Source: GAO analysis of data from the four nations' 2003 submissions to 
the Framework Convention Secretariat.

Notes:

Percentages do not total to 100 because of rounding.

In compiling this table, to fully report the nations' ratings for the 
six gases, we added the amount of removals to the amount of gross 
emissions; consequently, the data in the table do not match the net 
emissions reported by the nations.

[A] Percentage is less than .005 and rounds to 0.

[End of table]

Although the national inventory reports contained some information 
about the nations' confidence in their data, none of the nations 
explained the criteria they used to determine the high-, medium-, and 
low-confidence ratings they reported.

Developed Nations Must Use Quantitative Methods to Assess Their 
Confidence in Their Data in 2004:

In November 2002, the parties decided to require developed nations to 
use the quantitative methods in the IPCC good practice guidance to 
develop estimates of data uncertainty beginning with the 2004 
submissions. Instead of designating high, medium, or low ratings of 
confidence, under the new requirements, developed nations must quantify 
their uncertainty in their emissions estimates for each gas by each 
major source using 95 percent confidence levels. In addition, they must 
combine the source uncertainty estimates into a quantified uncertainty 
estimate for the inventory as a whole and estimate the uncertainty in 
the trend between the base year and the most recent year.

The IPCC good practice guidance provides detailed instructions for 
nations to follow to produce the quantitative estimates of data 
uncertainty. The guidance also describes two methods for combining 
quantitative uncertainty estimates--one consisting of relatively 
simple statistical calculations that result in a numerical uncertainty 
estimate, and the other using computer simulation to calculate the 
estimates. The computer simulation is a more sophisticated method and 
should result in more accurate estimates; however, according to the EPA 
official responsible for compiling the U.S. inventory, the computer 
simulation also is more costly than the simpler method. Because of 
this, the good practice guidance states that the nations must use the 
simpler of the two methods to produce their combined uncertainty 
estimates; in addition, they are encouraged to use the more 
sophisticated method when sufficient resources and expertise are 
available.

For example, in its 2003 inventory submission, the United Kingdom used 
both methods from the good practice guidance to quantitatively estimate 
its confidence in its 2001 emissions data as a whole. Using the simpler 
method, the United Kingdom reported an uncertainty value of 17 percent 
for its inventory data as a whole; that is, the United Kingdom was 95 
percent confident that total emissions were between 17 percent less and 
17 percent more than the total of about 660,452 gigagrams of carbon 
dioxide equivalent it estimated for the year. In contrast, using the 
more sophisticated method, the United Kingdom reported an uncertainty 
value of 13 percent, indicating it was 95 percent confident that total 
emissions were between 13 percent less and 13 percent more than the 
year's total estimate.

According to the EPA official responsible for compiling the 2003 U.S. 
inventory, the high, medium, and low categorizations reflect the early 
days of developing inventories, before the IPCC had developed its good 
practice guidance on quantitative methods. Prior to the guidance, the 
parties recognized that nations would vary in their ability to perform 
quantitative uncertainty analysis. The parties instituted the three-
part categorization in an effort to obtain information that was 
comparable across nations that were using different methods for 
assessing data uncertainty. The parties have moved to the quantitative 
methods because the three-part categorization approach yielded limited 
information about data uncertainty. For example, a nation could have 
uncertainty estimates of 35 percent and 60 percent but could have 
categorized both estimates as medium. The quantitative estimates 
provide information about the uncertainty of the various components of 
the inventory, thereby helping nations identify areas in which 
improvements would have the greatest effect on the accuracy of the 
inventory as a whole. In addition, the quantified estimates make the 
uncertainty analyses more consistent and understandable across nations. 
According to the Secretariat, the quantified uncertainty analysis also 
better enables expert reviewers to determine if nations are targeting 
their improvements in the appropriate areas.

The Parties Are Taking Steps to Improve the Quality of Emissions Data:

To improve the quality of data on greenhouse gas emissions, the parties 
to the Framework Convention are refining their requirements for both 
Annex I and non-Annex I nations. In addition, they are bolstering the 
review processes for Annex I nations. The changes are to begin to take 
effect over the next few years. The parties currently have no plans to 
change the way that non-Annex I nations' inventories are assessed.

Changes in Requirements for Annex I and Non-Annex I Nations Take Effect 
over the Next Few Years:

The parties have revised their requirements for both Annex I and non-
Annex I nations, with the changes taking effect over the next few 
years. The revisions fall mainly into two areas: procedures for 
estimating emissions and procedures for reporting those estimates.

The parties have revised both the estimating and reporting requirements 
for Annex I nations. Regarding estimating, for example, beginning with 
the 2004 submissions, Annex I nations will be required to use both the 
1996 IPCC estimating guidelines and the 2000 IPCC good practice 
guidance. Previously, Annex I nations were required to use only the 
1996 estimating guidance and were encouraged, but not required, to use 
the good practice guidance. Regarding reporting, the parties have 
specified in greater detail than before the information that should be 
included in Annex I nations' national inventory reports and in the data 
tables in the common reporting format. For example, nations should 
include explanations of how they recalculated their previous years' 
data and, as previously discussed, the methods they used to quantify 
their confidence in the data in their national inventory reports. In 
their reports, nations should document that they prepared their 
estimates in accordance with the IPCC good practice guidance or explain 
why they did not; for example, an explanation is required if they used 
a more sophisticated methodology than that specified in the guidance. 
The nations should also cross-reference the information in the national 
inventory report to explain the estimates reported in the data tables. 
Furthermore, Annex I nations must submit their national inventory 
reports following a specified format designed to facilitate review of 
the inventories.

The parties also revised the reporting requirements for non-Annex I 
nations that submit inventories in 2003 or later. Non-Annex I nations 
that had not submitted an inventory prior to 2003 must include data in 
their initial inventories for either 1990 or 1994 to establish an 
inventory baseline. Those submitting their second inventories should 
provide data for 2000 as well. This is in contrast to the requirement 
that Annex I nations submit data for all years, from 1990 to the 
present. Similarly, the parties specified that non-Annex I nations 
should report data for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide and 
encouraged reporting of the other three gases--hydrofluorocarbons, 
perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. In contrast, Annex I nations 
are required to report data for all six gases. According to the manager 
of the 2003 U.S. inventory, the estimating and reporting requirements 
for non-Annex I nations are less demanding to encourage those nations 
to report because those nations generally have fewer resources 
available for reporting.

In addition, the parties have requested that the IPCC continue to 
improve its guidance on estimating. Currently, the good practice 
guidance does not address estimating emissions and removals for the 
land-use change and forestry sector. According to the EPA official who 
managed the 2003 U.S. inventory, the IPCC deferred guidance on 
estimating emissions and removals because it was developing a special 
report on them, which was subsequently published in 2000. On the basis 
of that report, the IPCC began drafting new good practice guidance for 
estimating emissions and removals for the land-use change and forestry 
sector, which is due to be completed in late 2003. As part of this 
effort, the IPCC is also refining the data tables for the land-use 
change and forestry sector. In addition, according to the same EPA 
official, the IPCC is merging the 1996 guidelines with its good 
practice guidance and expects to complete the effort by 2007.

The Parties Are Bolstering the Review Process for Annex I Nations, but 
Not for Other Nations:

The parties are strengthening the expert review process for Annex I 
nations' submissions by conducting more reviews and standardizing the 
review processes. Beginning with the 2003 submissions, each of the 39 
Annex I nations will undergo one of the three types of expert reviews 
each year: an in-country review once every 5 years and either a desk 
review or a centralized review in each of the intervening years. This 
requirement contrasts with the practices of the past 3 years, when the 
experts performed from 8 to 21 expert reviews in a year. Furthermore, 
to standardize the reviews, the parties have spelled out, in greater 
detail than before, the elements that are to be examined during reviews 
and have developed a standardized format for reporting the results of 
the reviews. In addition, according to EPA inventory managers, in 
another effort to make the expert reviews more uniform, the Secretariat 
is developing a handbook and a training program for the expert 
reviewers and has specified the composition and responsibilities of the 
teams of expert reviewers.

According to the Secretariat, the parties have no plans to change the 
assessment process for non-Annex I nations' inventories, but the new 
reporting guidance for non-Annex I nations would facilitate changes to 
the assessment process, should the parties decide to institute them.

Scope and Methodology:

To examine the results of the most recent expert reviews of the 
greenhouse gas inventories submitted by the four economically developed 
nations included in our study--Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and 
the United States--we reviewed and analyzed the Secretariat's status 
reports showing the results of its initial reviews (called stage 1 
reviews by the Secretariat) of the most recently submitted inventories 
(2003). We also reviewed the reports on the parties' most recent expert 
reviews (called in-depth reviews by the Secretariat) of the four 
nations' inventories (2000 for Japan, 2000 and 2002 for the United 
Kingdom, 2000 for the United States, and 2001 for Germany) and related 
documentation on reporting requirements and review processes issued by 
the Secretariat. We interviewed officials at EPA who manage the U.S. 
greenhouse gas inventory and serve as inventory experts for the 
parties, as well as officials from the State Department's Bureau of 
Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs who are 
responsible for policy issues related to the Framework Convention. In 
addition, we reviewed and analyzed the limited information provided to 
us by the Secretariat in response to questions we posed.

To describe the results of any assessments of inventories of the three 
developing nations included in our study--China, India, and Mexico--we 
reviewed and analyzed the Secretariat's reports on its assessments of 
inventories submitted by non-Annex I nations, including the latest 
inventory submitted by Mexico (2001); related documentation on non-
Annex I nation reporting requirements and assessment processes; and 
other Secretariat information documenting which non-Annex I nations 
have submitted inventories. We also interviewed the officials at EPA 
and the Department of Energy who are most familiar with the three 
nations' efforts to compile and report their inventories, as well as 
the cognizant officials from the State Department.

To determine the extent to which the developed nations have confidence 
in their data, we analyzed the confidence information each nation 
provided in its 2003 submission. To describe any changes in assessing 
confidence in the data that are to take effect in the future, we 
examined documentation from the Secretariat and the relevant sections 
of the four developed nations' 2003 submissions.

To describe the steps the parties are taking to improve the quality of 
future inventory data and determine when those improvements might be in 
place, we reviewed and analyzed documentation of the parties' new 
estimating, reporting, and review requirements; interviewed cognizant 
EPA officials; and reviewed and analyzed the limited information on 
this issue submitted to us by the Secretariat in response to questions 
we posed.

We performed our work between November 2002 and November 2003 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

Agency Comments:

We provided a draft of this report to the Secretary of State, the 
Administrator of EPA, and the Framework Convention Secretariat for 
review and comment. EPA provided clarifying comments, which we 
incorporated where appropriate. We did not receive comments from the 
State Department or the Framework Convention Secretariat.

As arranged with your offices, we plan no further distribution of this 
report until 30 days after the date of this letter, unless you publicly 
announce its contents earlier. At that time, we will send copies of 
this report to interested congressional committees; the Chairmen and 
Ranking Minority Members, Senate Committee on Appropriations, House 
Committee on Appropriations, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, 
and House Committee on Government Reform; the EPA Administrator; and 
the Secretary of State. We will make copies available upon request to 
other interested parties. This report will also be available at no cost 
on GAO's Web site at [Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov].

If you or your staffs have any questions about this report, please call 
me at (202) 512-3841. I can also be reached at [Hyperlink, 
stephensonj@gao.gov]. Key contributors to this report are listed in 
appendix II.

John B. Stephenson: 
Director, Natural Resources and Environment:

Signed by John B. Stephenson: 

[End of section]

Appendixes: 

[End of section]

Appendix I: Results of Expert Reviews of the Four Developed Nations' 
Inventories:

The six expert review reports we examined did not follow identical 
formats; however, they generally highlighted the experts' findings and 
suggestions for improvement in a summary section at the beginning of 
each report. The experts noted instances of noncompliance with the 
reporting requirements. In addition, the experts noted some instances 
in which the nations did not comply with the Good Practice Guidance and 
Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, even 
though following the good practice guidance was not a requirement at 
the time that the inventories were submitted. The summary-level 
findings and suggestions for each of the six expert reviews we examined 
are listed in table 3.

Table 3: Results of the Most Recent Expert Reviews of the Four 
Developed Nations' Inventories:

Expert review: Centralized review of Germany's inventory submitted in 
2001; 
Findings: Inventory did not conform to Secretariat's guidelines; 
specifically, it did not include the following: 
* sector-specific data; 
* a national inventory report; 
* required information on major sources of emissions; 
* recalculated data for previous years or explanation of 
recalculations; 
* quantitative uncertainty estimates nor a qualitative discussion of 
reasons for uncertainty; 
* procedures on quality assurance; 
* inventory in specified software format; 
* information on how the nation develops and manages its inventory, 
and; 
* information on ongoing efforts to improve the quality of its 
inventory; 
Inventory was submitted after the deadline; Inventory did not include 
information on any improvements made in response to problems 
identified with previous inventories; 

Suggestions for improvement: Submit national inventory report with a 
brief explanation of methodologies and underlying assumptions that 
were used to compile the inventory; Compile a complete emissions 
inventory for all of the required years and sectors.

Expert review: Centralized review of Japan's inventory submitted in 
2000; 
Findings: Inventory did not conform to Secretariat's guidelines; 
specifically, it did not include the following: 
* a national inventory report and; 
* recalculated data for previous years; Inventory did not contain 
information needed to determine completeness of sources of emissions 
for the industrial processes sector; 

Suggestions for improvement: Improve documentation; Submit a national 
inventory report to explain methods used to estimate emissions; 
Improve the consistency of the data and information provided.

Expert review: In-country review of the United Kingdom's inventory 
submitted in 2000; 
Findings: Inventory did not completely conform to Secretariat's 
guidelines; specifically, the United Kingdom did not; 
* provide the national inventory report on time; 
* apply the Secretariat's good practice guidance; 
* provide required details for the waste and the land-use change and 
forestry sectors; 
* include required calculations and disaggregated activity data for 
the sectors; 
* explain rationale for assumptions used for emission estimates; 
* use consistent assumptions and methods to report time-series 
information for sources of emissions in the industrial processes 
sector; 
* include information on quality assurance procedures; and; 
* include required information on sources of and methods for 
estimating hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur 
hexafluoride; 

Suggestions for improvement: Archive documentation supporting the 
national inventory report in one location or on the Web; Publish 
Findings from research on improving estimates; Perform quality 
assurance procedures for emissions data from industry; Report 
emissions and removals separately.

Expert review: Desk review of the United Kingdom's inventory submitted 
in 2002; 
Findings: No findings were noted; 

Suggestions for improvement: Attempt to include estimates for data 
categories not yet included; Provide more specific information in the 
national inventory report on how the consistency of emissions data 
over time was achieved.

Expert review: Desk review of the United States's inventory submitted 
in 2000; 
Findings: The information included in the data tables was somewhat 
inconsistent with the information included in the national inventory 
report; The data tables did not include recalculations; however, the 
national inventory report included information on revised 
methodologies and updated data that were used for recalculations; The 
inventory did not include information on the quality assurance 
procedures that were used; The inventory did not include information 
on the quality of estimates in the data tables; 

Suggestions for improvement: For more complete and transparent 
reporting in the land- use change and forestry sector; 
* include a description of methods used for estimating carbon dioxide 
removals in forest soils and landfills; 
* provide more explanation on factors used to estimate carbon dioxide 
removals in the forest floor, understory vegetation, and harvested 
wood products; and; 
* include data on emissions and removals from abandonment of managed 
lands and nonforest organic mineral soils.

Expert review: In-country review of the United States's inventory 
submitted in 2000; 
Findings: The information included in the data tables was somewhat 
inconsistent with the information included in the national inventory 
report; The data were estimated using complex methods and models that 
required data at a more detailed level than was provided; Although the 
national inventory report contained some information on quantitative 
and qualitative indications of uncertainties for emissions sources, 
the estimates were not complete; The national inventory report 
provided no specific information on verification and quality assurance 
procedures; 

Suggestions for improvement: Apply quality assurance procedures to all 
sectors. 

[End of table]

Source: GAO analysis of expert reviews.

[End of section]

Appendix II: GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments:

GAO Contacts:

John B. Stephenson, (202) 512-3841 David Marwick, (202) 512-6775:

Staff Acknowledgments:

In addition to the individuals named above, Simin Ho and Karla Springer 
made key contributions to this report. Nancy Crothers, Sandra Edwards, 
Barbara Johnson, Karen Keegan, Andria Key, Charlotte Moore, Chris 
Moriarity, Katherine Raheb, and Anne Rhodes-Kline also made important 
contributions.


(360277):

FOOTNOTES

[1] The five other gases are methane, nitrous oxide, 
hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur dioxide.

[2] In 1997, the United States and other parties to the Framework 
Convention participated in drafting the Kyoto Protocol, an 
international agreement to specifically limit emissions of the six 
greenhouse gases, and in 1998 the United States signed the protocol. 
However, President Clinton did not submit the protocol to the Senate 
for advice and consent, which are necessary for ratification. In March 
2001, President Bush announced that he opposed the protocol. 

[3] We use the term "ratified" to indicate that nations have ratified, 
accepted, approved, or acceded to the Framework Convention. The 
convention entered into force after it was ratified by 50 nations.

[4] Established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United 
Nations Environment Program in 1988, the IPCC supports the parties by 
providing scientific, technical, and socioeconomic advice through 
periodic assessments and special publications, such as the guidelines 
it developed on estimating emissions and removals.

[5] The Montreal Protocol, ratified by the United States in 1988, aims 
to reduce the use of substances that deplete stratospheric ozone. Among 
these substances are chlorofluorocarbons, which are also potent 
greenhouse gases.

[6] According to EPA officials, because of the way carbon dioxide 
emissions are estimated, the results are as accurate as they would be 
if they were measured.

[7] Five Annex I nations with economies in transition--Bulgaria, 
Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia--are allowed to use other years 
as baselines.

[8] Annex I nations also submit national communications discussing 
their efforts to implement the Framework Convention in addition to 
submitting stand-alone inventories, but the format and frequency of the 
national communications are different for Annex I and non-Annex I 
nations.

[9] According to the EPA official who managed the 2003 U.S. inventory, 
the parties to the Framework Convention plan to discuss increasing the 
frequency of non-Annex I nations' inventory reporting during the next 
conference of the parties in December 2003.

[10] In addition to funding climate change projects, the Global 
Environment Facility also funds projects related to biodiversity, 
international waters, land degradation, ozone depletion, and persistent 
organic pollutants.

[11] According to EPA officials, the confidence a nation has in the 
accuracy of its inventory depends on the predominant sources of its 
emissions, as well as on the completeness of the inventory and the 
quality of the methods it uses to estimate emissions. For example, a 
nation such as New Zealand, whose greenhouse gas emissions' sources are 
predominantly in the agriculture and land-use change and forestry 
sectors, may have lower confidence in the accuracy of its inventory 
data as a whole than a nation such as the United States, whose 
emissions originate predominantly from the energy sector, even though 
both nations might be using state-of-the-art estimation methods. This 
is because emissions estimates from the agriculture and land-use change 
and forestry sectors are inherently less accurate than those 
originating from fossil fuels that produce energy.

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U.S. General Accounting Office

441 G Street NW,

Room LM Washington,

D.C. 20548:

To order by Phone: 	

	Voice: (202) 512-6000:

	TDD: (202) 512-2537:

	Fax: (202) 512-6061:

To Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Federal Programs:

Contact:

Web site: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov

Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470:

Public Affairs:

Jeff Nelligan, managing director, NelliganJ@gao.gov (202) 512-4800 U.S.

General Accounting Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149 Washington, D.C.

20548: