Under-reporting of greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. cities

Gurney, K., J. Liang, G. Roest, Y. Song, K. Mueller, and T. Lauvaux (2021), Under-reporting of greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. cities, Nature, doi:10.1038/s41467-020-20871-0.

Cities dominate greenhouse gas emissions. Many have generated self-reported emission inventories, but their value to emissions mitigation depends on their accuracy, which remains untested. Here, we compare self-reported inventories from 48 US cities to independent estimates from the Vulcan carbon dioxide emissions data product, which is consistent with atmospheric measurements. We found that cities under-report their own greenhouse gas emissions, on average, by 18.3% (range: 145.5% to +63.5%) a difference which if extrapolated to all U.S. cities, exceeds Californias total emissions by 23.5%. Differences arise because city inventories omit particular fuels and source types and estimate transportation emissions differently. These results raise concerns about self-reported inventories in planning or assessing emissions, and warrant consideration of the new urban greenhouse gas infor- mation system recently developed by the scientific community.

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Research Program: 
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems Program (CCEP)
Funding Sources: 
NASA Grant NNX14AJ20G National Institute of Standards and Technology Grant 70NANB16H264N. T. Lauvaux was supported by the French research program Make Our Planet Great Again (project CIUDAD).