Mitigating climate change is one of the most important goals for sustainable development. There is a clear and pressing need to quantify the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of all human activities so that efforts to reduce or mitigate those impacts can be effectively targeted.
The issue of GHG emissions attracts increasing focus from governments, lenders and other stakeholders. Reliable, consistent approaches are required to evaluate GHG emissions for all types of assets at different stages of development.
The GHG status of freshwater reservoirs – that is, any change in GHG emissions in a river basin resulting from the creation of a reservoir – has been discussed in both scientific and policy forums.
There are concerns around the uncertainty in estimates of GHG emissions from reservoir systems, and that these impacts are often attributed to hydropower projects, while reservoirs serve multiple purposes.
Our work on GHG emissions
The uncertainties around GHG emissions from reservoirs and the lack of consensus led to consultation between scientists, the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP), with the subsequent launch of the UNESCO/IHA GHG Research Project – GHG Status of Freshwater Reservoirs.
This Project, hosted by IHA in collaboration with UNESCO-IHP, aims to improve understanding of the impact of reservoirs on natural GHG emissions and of the processes involved, and to help fill knowledge gaps in this area.
This process led to the development of the UNESCO/IHA GHG Measurement Guidelines for Freshwater Reservoirs (2011) and the GHG Risk Screening Tool (released as a beta version) in 2013.
The intention of the guidelines was to improve the accuracy and consistency in measuring GHG emissions from reservoir systems. The screening tool was designed to provide an estimate of ‘gross’ GHG emissions from the reservoir and was based on empirical data from measurements taken at a range of existing reservoirs.
Latest associated content
Eric Martel is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Hydro-Québec, having taken up the role in July 2015.Type:Blog postDate:23 August 2016
The International Hydropower Association is expanding its knowledge networks initiative to include eight topics identified as the most challenging for the sector.Type:News postDate:23 August 2016
The International Hydropower Association (IHA) announces that the 2017 World Hydropower Congress will take place in Addis Ababa on 9–11 May 2017.Type:News postDate:7 June 2016
We are moving towards the public release of the G-res tool, a framework for reporting the likely greenhouse-gas (GHG) impact of freshwater reservoirs.Type:Blog postDate:18 April 2016
33 GW of new hydropower capacity was commissioned in 2015, including 2.5 GW of pumped storage, according to estimates in our new briefing, 2016 Key Trends in HydroType:Blog postDate:1 March 2016