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California is setting up what is probably the world's first statewide greenhouse gas monitoring network, another first for my home state, the country's leader in battling climate change. The California Air Resources Board, which is working to set up the state's plan for a cap and trade system, will monitor methane emissions from stations located across the state. The accurate accounting of emissions was a major hangup at the recent climate negotiations in Copenhagen. From the NY Times Green Inc. blog:
"The ultimate goal is that this network will give you a gridded methane inventory where you can pinpoint exactly where the emissions are occurring," said Jorn Dinh Herner, a scientist with the California Air Resources Board.
A study commissioned by The California Air Resources Board found that computer models of methane in the atmosphere was off by as much as 30 percent. The accurate counting of emissions has huge implications for a carbon market, where pollution credits will be traded. If the credits don't accurately reflect reality then the entire market is open to manipulation and could be subject to a bubble.
"If we cannot actually prove our emissions are actually coming down, you have the biggest subprime crisis of all time - a subprime carbon crisis," said Michael Woelk, the chief executive of Picarro, a Silicon Valley company that makes the greenhouse gas analyzers being used by California.
In Copenhagen, China was widely blamed for the failure of the talks to deliver a binding agreement,. However unfair those claims may be, it's true that China did resist attempts to have the UN monitor worldwide emissions.