This policy brief looks at the rationales for a national greenhouse gas registry in the United States, draws comparisons to other reporting programs and proposals, and makes recommendations on key design questions.

Key Findings

A federal greenhouse gas emissions registry and reporting program will provide the foundation for effective climate change policies at the national, regional, state, and local levels. In the context of a cap-and-trade program, a registry is integral to the program’s success. A well-designed registry should:

  • Collect data at the facility level on a mandatory basis;
  • Collect accurate, complete, transparent, consistent, and verifi ed data in accordance with international standards;
  • Collect emissions data from all facilities covered by a cap-andtrade program;
  • Provide the infrastructure to support reporting from emission sources not regulated by a cap-and-trade program to support other policies and programs;
  • Collect high-quality emissions data before a cap-and-trade program becomes operational;
  • Collect information on both direct and indirect emissions;
  • Harmonize with voluntary corporate-wide registries, such as the Climate Registry; and
  • Make all emissions data available to the public.

Executive Summary

With the federal government now debating the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a national scale, policymakers must also address the need to collect the emissions data necessary to ensure the success of U.S. climate change policies. The fi rst step in reducing emissions is to measure them. Without accurate and complete data on the sources of emissions and the amount they emit, the success of U.S. climate policies may be compromised.

In December 2007, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008. The law includes a provision directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from appropriate sources in all sectors of the U.S. economy. This policy brief explains the critical need for such a mandatory greenhouse gas emissions registry and reporting program and outlines key design elements to include in such a registry.