The Secretary of Energy, joined by the Secretaries of Commerce and Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, submitted recommendations to President Bush that provide a blueprint to improve and expand a voluntary reporting system that encourages greenhouse gas emission reductions and creates a new, transferable credit system for those reductions. The initiative is an important tool for achieving President Bush's national goal to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of the American economy by 18% by 2012.

The proposed recommendations are outlined in a letter to the President from all four cabinet officers. The new recommendations follow the President's comprehensive climate change policy, released earlier this year, which requested recommendations for improvements to the current voluntary emissions reduction registration program operated under section 1605(b) of the 1992 Energy Policy Act.

The recommendations highlight the need to create standardized, widely accepted, transparent accounting methods, support independent verification of registry reports, and provide credits for a broad range of actions. Improving the registry and providing transferable credits for reductions would help motivate firms to undertake cost-effective voluntary reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

"It's vital that we create a reporting system to encourage and credit greenhouse gas reductions in the United States in a manner consistent with the President's climate change policy," Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said. "This initiative responds to the President's charge that we ‘create world-class standards for measuring and registering emission reductions' and ‘give transferable credits to companies that can show real emission reductions.' We are coordinating our initiative with a broad base of constituents, from individuals and industries, to forestry groups and the financial community. We've sought and obtained detailed inputs from multiple stakeholders and held a month-long public comment period. Our goal is to significantly improve our reporting system, reduce the projected growth in greenhouse gases over the long-term, and credit those who voluntarily make real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions."

The current Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases, created by the 1992 Energy Policy Act and managed by the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA), has been operational since 1994. EIA's Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases 2000 contains reports from 222 corporations, associations, and individuals.

Since February, an interagency working group has undertaken several actions to improve the voluntary greenhouse gas registry and reward real reductions in emissions. These included:

  • Outreach efforts to the general public and to industry, environmental, agricultural, and forestry groups, the financial community, public policy organizations and the states to solicit views on how to improve the greenhouse gas registry, consistent with the goals of the National Energy Policy. A formal 30-day public comment period ended June 5.
  • The interagency team also critically reviewed the existing Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases program, examined emerging state programs and international approaches to greenhouse gas reporting and met with stakeholders and managers of analogous government programs in Japan, Australia and Britain.

The interagency working group – both internally and in consultation with various stakeholders – identified recommendations that will guide the process over the coming months to improve the greenhouse gas reporting program.

The primary goal is to: create a credible and transparent program to report and credit real reductions that support the national goal of reducing U.S. emissions intensity by 18% by 2012.