Everyone counts CO2 differently. Scientists have a solution.

A new National Academies report recommends a global “clearinghouse” for greenhouse gas information. The world needs a better system for calculating greenhouse gas emissions to help nations meet global climate targets.

While there are dozens of different methods all over the world for keeping tabs on emissions — at all different levels, from the local to the global — a report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine notes that there’s little coordination between them. Some systems rely on bottom-up measurements that use observations of human activities. Some systems use top-down measurements that rely on measurements of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Some systems use a combination of both.

Each system has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some are more detailed than others, some are more accurate, some are faster and easier to communicate, and some have more transparent data sources.

It’s a lot of options for policymakers to choose from when deciding how to keep tabs on emissions in their own city, state, country or industry. And it makes it hard to compare different inventories and determine which ones are providing the best results.

That, in turn, makes it hard to keep track of how quickly the world is hitting its climate goals — and where climate action is most urgently needed.

To address these issues, the new report recommends a single global clearinghouse for greenhouse gas information from all over the world.

(My personal take on this: decentralized data for such a clearinghouse could be collected in a blockchain.)

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