Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Climate emissions metrics: figuring it out so you can manage it

The issue of metrics is compelling: You can't manage what you don't understand.

That is one reason the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa has signed up as a founding member of The Climate Registry.

The university hopes to manage its output of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and is joining others around the United States and Canada to try to get a handle on just what greenhouse gases they are producing, and to develop some kind of standard on how to measure them.

The Climate Registry has among its members 75 cities, counties, corporations and non-profits. UH Mānoa is the first university member.

Its goal is to produce verifiable reports that will be publicly available. Thus, UH Mānoa will annually issue a statement that recounts its greenhouse gas emissions in a standardized form under The Climate Registry General Reporting Protocol. The standards were established based on ones developed by the World Resource Institute and the World Bank Council for Sustainable Development.

The university's report will then be verified by an independent agency appointed by The Climate Registry.

UH Mānoa's Mānoa Climate Change Commission helped move the institution into the registry.

The importance to the University of this kind of climate impact tracking was presaged in February 2007 by then-interim campus chancellor Denise Konan, and now economics professor, who wrote:

“The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa has been heavily reliant on fossil fuels through our consumption of electricity, travel patterns and other practices. We are also well equipped to explore alternative technologies and choices that promote our lifestyles through more sustainable practices. By tracking and demonstrating our impact on reduction of the generation of greenhouse gases we can serve as a living educational model,” Konan wrote as part of Mānoa's Climate Commitment.

The campus is committed to reducing its energy use by 30 percent by 2012 and to promoting the development of renewable energy resources—enough to have a quarter of the campus energy come from renewables by 2020.

“The emissions template developed by Mânoa provides accurate reporting that is specific to Hawai‘i. By taking a lead, Mânoa will ease the way for others to make a public commitment to our climate,” said Laurence Lau, the state Health Department's deputy environmental health director.

For more information on the Mānoa Climate Change Commission, see

For more on The Climate Registry, see

© 2008 Jan W. TenBruggencate