Carbon monitoring, as part of greenhouse gas monitoring, is the measurement of how much carbon dioxide or methane is produced by a specific activity at a specific time. Tracking methane emissions from agriculture, for example, or carbon dioxide emissions from land use changes, such as deforestation, or from the combustion of fossil fuels, whether in a power plant, automobile, or other devices. Because carbon dioxide is the most abundant greenhouse gas emitted, and methane is even more potent, monitoring carbon emissions are widely regarded as critical to any effort to reduce emissions and thus slow climate change.
The National Carbon Monitoring Centre (NCMC) is established as a vehicle for reporting on carbon stocks and their changes as well as coordinating the national MRV processes for the Government of Tanzania.
Most governments estimate carbon emissions from the ground up, using emission factors that provide the rate of carbon emissions per unit of activity and data on how much of that activity has occurred. For example, an emission factor for the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per gallon of gasoline burned can be calculated and combined with gasoline sales data to estimate carbon emissions from light duty vehicles. Other examples include estimating methane or carbon dioxide emissions by determining the number of cows in various locations or the mass of coal burned at power plants and combining this information with the appropriate emissions factors.
Carbon emissions are sometimes monitored using “top-down” methods. These involve determining the distribution of emissions that caused the resulting concentrations by measuring the concentration of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
Accounting by sector can be difficult when there is the possibility of double counting. For example, if coal is gasified to produce synthetic natural gas, which is then mixed with natural gas and burned in a natural gas-powered power plant, this activity must be subtracted from the coal sector and added to the natural gas sector to be properly accounted for.