Cape Cod Commission staff completed a draft greenhouse gas emissions inventory in February 2021. A report on the inventory, including a detailed methodology section, is now available. This inventory provides a better understanding of the sources of carbon emissions, helping the region to set policies to reduce them.
Certain gases that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), are known as greenhouse gases (GHGs) and are widely acknowledged to contribute to climate change. GHGs occur naturally, and they are also emitted from human activities like using fossil fuels, through certain land management practices, or from manufacturing of products we use. To prevent climate change from worsening it is critical to understand GHG contributions at various scales.
The 2018 Regional Policy Plan includes a Cape Cod Commission planning action to encourage and engage communities to better understand regional GHG emissions, specifically to develop an estimated baseline of GHG emissions for the region using available models and data. This baseline can provide communities with the information to understand the contributing factors to Cape Cod’s GHG emissions.
Developing the Methodology
In 2019, to help determine a GHG accounting method that best fits the land uses and development patterns of Cape Cod, Commission staff reviewed GHG inventories from eight cities and towns, seven regions, two states, and the United States national inventory to better understand the considerations, challenges, and accounting methods used in calculating GHG emissions. Commission staff worked with regional and state GHG practitioners and data experts to develop an appropriate method for calculating a GHG inventory for Cape Cod, largely utilizing the methods outlined in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.
Creating the Inventory
The Commission estimated emissions from activities inside Barnstable County and certain activities outside of Barnstable County from the following sectors:
- Stationary energy (buildings)
- Industrial processes and product use
- Land use and Forestry
Gases inventoried include: carbon dioxide (CO2); methane (CH4); nitrous oxide (N2O); and fluorinated gases: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Barnstable County-specific data and methods were used where possible and appropriate. The inventory also considers seasonality in emissions where appropriate and feasible.