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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

'Dodgy' greenhouse gas data threatens Paris accord

Potent, climate-warming gases are being emitted into the atmosphere but are not being recorded in official inventories, a BBC investigation has found.

Air monitors in Switzerland have detected large quantities of one gas coming from a location in Italy.

However, the Italian submission to the UN records just a tiny amount of the substance being emitted.

Levels of some emissions from India and China are so uncertain that experts say their records are plus or minus 100 per cent.

These flaws posed a bigger threat to the Paris climate agreement than US President Donald Trump's intention to withdraw, researchers told BBC Radio 4's Counting Carbon programme.

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Among the key provisions of the Paris climate deal, signed by 195 countries in December 2015, is the requirement that every country, rich or poor, has to submit an inventory of its greenhouse-gas emissions every two years.

Under UN rules, most countries produce "bottom-up" records, based on how many car journeys are made or how much energy is used for heating homes and offices.

But air-sampling programmes that record actual levels of gases, such as those run by the UK and Switzerland, sometimes reveal errors and omissions.In 2011, Swiss scientists first published their data on levels of a gas called HFC-23 coming from a location in northern Italy.

Between 2008 and 2010, they had recorded samples of the chemical, produced in the refrigeration and air conditioning industries, which is 14,800 times more warming to the atmosphere than CO2.Now the scientists, at the Jungfraujoch Swiss air monitoring station, have told the BBC the gas is still going into the atmosphere.

Read the full report here.