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4 reasons cities should measure carbon emissions instead of estimating them

Live City GHG emissions on a map
Everimpact live city emissions monitoring dashboard

Cities play a crucial role in global carbon emissions reduction efforts. However, to accelerate their decarbonization, it is essential for cities to move away from estimation-based approaches and instead focus on accurately measuring their emissions using real-time data from satellite and ground sensors. Here are four compelling reasons why cities should prioritize measurement over estimation.

1- Measuring carbon emissions provides much better accuracy than estimation-based approaches

Traditional estimation-based emissions calculations lack accuracy.

They use estimated greenhouse gas inventories based on activity data and carbon emission factors. Estimates are only as good as the inputs into the model and chosen assumptions.

Additionally, estimating emissions solely from the city's operations overlooks the significant contribution of third parties, such as residents, businesses, and industries, which account for approximately 90% of emissions.

With area based monitoring using satellite and ground sensors, there is no blind spot, City managers can see all the emissions hotspots in their territory.

“Assessing city progress on emissions reductions has been hindered by the near-total absence of directly measured CO2 emissions data. (…). Most estimates rely on parameters from engineering studies that are applied to survey-based activity measures for transport, energy production, and manufacturing. ”

Source: Worldbank

2- Automate an expensive, time consuming emissions reporting process

The process of emissions accounting involves of lot of information collecting (activities, energy bills, third parties…), data crunching and modeling. It is fairly manual, time-consuming and expensive. With the Everimpact platform, City carbon managers get access to a live dashboard with all their emissions data in real time. This data can be easily shared with stakeholders, enabling collaboration and transparency in emission reduction efforts.

3- Track progress of your decarbonization measures in real-time

Given the amount of data-crunching involved, no wonder most cities publish their greenhouse gas inventory every two years at most (more commonly every five to ten years). You simply can’t track progress of decarbonization plans with this type of frequency.

With real-time and granular data, presented by emission source and area, climate teams can track the impact of their decarbonization plans as they happen and even understand the synergies or rebound effects of different measures.

4 - Establish rigorous emissions baseline and reduction data to access climate finance

“The current practice of estimating or down-scaling city-level emissions inventories is plagued by many issues: suspect data quality, lack of spatial granularity down to a county or city level, incomplete or non-existent uncertainty and confidence intervals, and an inability to support targeted investments in mitigation measures."

Accessing climate finance requires cities to provide quality data and methodologies, which is challenging when relying on estimated data from previous years. Establishing a credible emissions baseline is essential to unlock investment through green finance mechanisms. Everimpact's carbon measuring solution and methodology for certifying emission reductions provide cities with high-quality data, enabling them to access carbon markets or secure green loans. This funding can support crucial initiatives such as low-carbon mobility policies and nature-based solutions, driving the city's transition towards a sustainable future.

In conclusion, the shift from carbon emissions estimation to measurement is crucial for cities aiming to effectively decrease their carbon emissions. Accurate measurements provide better accuracy, automate reporting processes, enable real-time progress tracking, and establish credible baselines for accessing climate finance. By embracing measurement-based approaches, cities can make more informed decisions, track their progress effectively, and attract the necessary funding to accelerate their decarbonization efforts.


Join our next City webinar on  29/02 and 7/03


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