49 Pages Posted: 28 May 2008 Last revised: 26 May 2014
This due diligence report shows that the popular climate management initiative Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA.org) run by a prominent Washington DC based think-tank, the Center for Global Development (CGD,) utilizes erroneous and questionable CO2 emissions data to rank power plants and motivate public activism. The report concludes that CARMA's data are unfit for policy and business decisions. Our conclusions are derived from comparative analysis of CARMA and United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) data at the level of each power plant, and it shows that more than 90% of CARMA's estimates DO NOT match with the US Government's data. These differences are large and irreconcilable. We discovered that CARMA's estimates of carbon intensity - a measure of how much CO2 is released for every unit of electricity generated - are systematically biased upwards compared to the USEPA's estimates for the year 2000 and 2007.
This report concludes that CARMA's statistical methodology for estimating CO2 emissions of power plants is incompatible with the protocols for CO2 monitoring and verification recommended by the US Government, IPCC and the European Commission. Through this report, we want to amplify three key policy messages. First, climate management actions need a disciplined data based analysis, and the public and the media should be made fully aware of the data quality pitfalls. Second, monitoring and verification of CO2 emissions is likely to remain a considerable challenge, but statistical shortcuts are not a good substitute for the real measured data obtained from proper on-site monitoring and verification as required by the established protocols of various international and national agencies. And finally, the surging popularity of climate issues has created a tempting environment for public recognition but the focus should remain on objective and cost-effective solutions and policies. And most fundamental of all, climate campaigns simply can not be built on erroneous and questionable data because it would only undermine the chances of policy success and hurt our collective interest in managing the challenges of global warming.
Keywords: Climate Management, Global Warming, CO2, Power Plants, Electricity, Energy
JEL Classification: Q54, Q58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Afsah, Shakeb and Ness, Eric, Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA): Climate Campaign Built on Questionable Data - A Due Diligence Report on CARMA's Data and Methodology. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1133432 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1133432