FAQ on a Common Standard for City and Local Government
GHG Emissions Inventory Reporting for the Global Covenant of Mayors

1. What is the new data standard and why is it important?


  • The recently developed standard creates a new common framework for local community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to be reported in association with the commitments cities and local governments are making through the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM).
  • It ensures a common approach for cities to monitor their performance against their individual action plans and targets while simultaneously creating a mechanism to transparently track the contributions and impacts of cities and local governments within the framework of the Paris Agreement. It will help track the invaluable contributions of subnational actors, allow for comparison between jurisdictions and increase the potential for financing opportunities at the local, regional, and global levels.

2. Which cities and local governments need to adopt the new standard?


  • The standard will be finalized following a consultation process that will engage cities across all regions during first half of 2018. The new standard will be incorporated gradually in 2018. The rollout will start with all new GCoM cities and local governments committing to the initiative being required to report using the new standard. Cities with existing commitments to the initiative will report using the new standard starting January 1, 2019.

3. What is included in the new standard?


  • The new standard establishes a minimum set of requirements for emission inventories to be reported under the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy initiative, focusing on the emission sources and sectors where cities and local governments have the most authority. This includes:
    1. Transportation
    2. Buildings / Stationary Energy
    3. Waste
    4. Energy Generation

4. What are the requirements on activity data and emissions factors?


  • Local authorities shall report activity data and emission factors for all sources of emissions, disaggregated by activity/fuel type.
  • Local authorities are recommended to use activity-based emission factors (also referred to as IPCC emission factors), though may use life-cycle analysis based emission factors (LCA), where this is standard practice at local level.
  • Where local authorities use LCA emission factors, they must also consent to GCoM converting their inventory using activity-based emission factors for the purposes of aggregating inventories.
  • Cities shall account for emissions of the following gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O)1
  • GHG emissions shall be reported in metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e)2. Where possible, local authorities should report CO2e emissions by individual GHG.
  • Emissions from biogenic carbon (CO2(b)) are not required to be reported. Where they are reported, this shall be done separately and will not be counted in emissions totals.

1. For the aspirational tier, local authorities are expected to be required to additionally account for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).
2. CO2 equivalent can be determined by multiplying each gas by its respective global warming potential (GWP). The IPCC Assessment Report used for the GWP factors should be clearly referenced (i.e. FAR; SAR; TAR; AR4; AR5).

5. What if my city is unable to comprehensively report all activities in the new reporting standard?


  • Notation keys may be used to accommodate limitations in data availability and differences in emission sources between local authorities. Where notation keys are used, local authorities should provide an accompanying explanation. Below are the notation keys that will be accepted using the new standard:
Notation key Description
Not Occurring NO An activity or process does not occur or exist within the city. May also be used for insignificant sources.
Included elsewhere IE GHG emissions for this activity are estimated and presented in another category in same inventory.
Not estimated NE GHG emissions occur but have not been estimated or reported.
Confidential C GHG emissions which could lead to the disclosure of confidential information.

More specific details around the usage of notation keys will be released over the course of the next 12-months, and importantly following the consultation process.

6. How will the new standard be incorporated into the current GCoM reporting platforms?


  • Practitioner consultation: A consultation period with local authorities and key stakeholders on the proposed reporting standard will begin 2018. All cities interested this process can immediately alert the GCoM Secretariat at info@globalcovenantofmayors.org. This consultation will include a review of the minimum level of reporting (as described in this document) and the more comprehensive aspirational level of reporting (to be elaborated.
  • Final standard, reporting template and data management policy: Development of the final reporting framework and a template for the consistent reporting of activity data, emission factors and GHG emissions will follow the consultation. In parallel, a new data policy will guide collection, storage and dissemination of inventory data. These efforts will include a pilot testing phase.
  • Implementation phase: A plan will be established in 2018 and subsequently put in action to implement the new reporting framework, minimize disruptions for existing signatories, engage relevant stakeholders and support cities’ reporting by providing tools, support with data acquisition, and other assistance necessary to complete and report an emissions inventory. This will accommodate an integration process for existing reporting cities, as well as an approach for newly committing cities.

7. Who was involved in creating this data standard?


  • The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy convened a Technical Working Group that engaged a variety of partners through a consistent, rigorous and transparent approach to review emissions accounting methodologies and identify how they may be harmonized into a common approach. This group comprised of the following

After detailed consultations amongst all partners, the finally agreed, IPCC-based global standard for emissions inventory reporting for cities will be available for a global consultation at the beginning of 2018 with the aim of an ultimate adoption later in the year.