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
At the end of 2015 we can look back on a significant year for hydropower, from the gathering of the sector at the World Hydropower Congress in Beijing, to the crucial Paris Agreement at COP21. Here are just some of the highlightType:Blog postDate:15 December 2015
On Wednesday 2 December we hosted a webinar that provided an overview of the IHA/UNESCO project on the GHG status of freshwater reservoirs, an introduction to the G-res tool, as well as the opportunity for partcipants to pose questions to the toolType:Blog postDate:3 December 2015
For the first time, we are taking the pulse of the hydropower sector at large in a new annual survey. You are invited to take part.Type:Blog postDate:30 November 2015
With the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including a dedicated goal to provide universal access to modern energy services, hydropower has an important role to play in the post-2015 development agenda.Type:Blog postDate:1 October 2015
Although recent studies have shown that the gross greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of Chinese reservoirs were not as high as previously estimated, there are nonetheless increased efforts to measure the GHG exchanges of reservoirsType:Blog postDate:17 September 2015