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ERA's Environmental Compliance Management Blog

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Canadian GHG Emissions Reporting

Posted by Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.

GHG emissions reportingThe Canadian greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting program, also known as the GHGRP, is a program that requires all facilities that emit at least 50 000 tonnes of Greenhouse gases to report their emissions to Environment Canada. But is the process this straightforward? Are there hidden pitfalls you need to avoid?

The actual reporting is done using Environment Canada's online GHG reporting software, Single Window Information Manager aka SWIM (formerly called OWNERS). While having this e-tool streamlines greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting, there are still several aspects to the GHGRP that can make the process a time consuming endeavour for any facility.

Here are a few of potential difficulties to be aware of when doing your mandatory or voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions report for the GHGRP:

Threshold Calculations

The bulk of your time preparing for the GHGRP is probably spent doing all of the necessary background threshold calculations. You need to determine all of your GHG emissions and convert them into tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent. This can take dozens of hours depending on how many emission sources your facility has. All that work is used just to determine if you actually have to submit a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions report or not. You could spend valuable time calculating your total GHG emissions only to find out you aren't required to do any greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting at all!

However, these threshold calculations are a time drain that you can't afford to skip. If you fail to report when you are legally obligated to, you could face fines, shutdown orders, and even worse, prison time.

The solution? Simple: an EMS program that can do the time consuming work for you, so that you can just read from a report whether or not your facility needs to report.

Option Paralysis

In order to make the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting process accessible to everyone, Environment Canada has taken efforts to make the GHGRP as flexible as possible. This means that there are no regulations dictating which calculation methodology you need to use, which emission factors you should use, or which Global Warming Potentials (GWPs) you should use.

While having all that freedom is nice, sometimes facility operators want a little more guidance in their reporting.

It's not always obvious which calculation method would be the easiest or provide the most accurate results. You might have to pick between very accurate but inefficient to obtain data and a rough estimate that took no time at all.

How do you decide and what are the potential consequences? Which emission factors will give you the most accurate picture of your GHG emissions?

Without a set of regulations telling them what to do, many reporters waste their time going through the trial and error process.

The fix: remove the errors and get expert advice. You need to talk to someone with years of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting experience under their belt or use an EMS program that keeps track of the most accurate methodologies, emission factors, and GWPs for you. GHGRP decisions are easy when it's a choice between doing things quickly and accurately or inefficiently. 

Biomass Exceptions

One of the most complicated parts of Canada's GHGRP is the numerous special cases made for biomass and biomass materials. For Canadian greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting, you do not include emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) in your threshold calculations.

However, you still need to report these CO2 emissions in your final report. In addition, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) GHG emissions do get included.

Because of these special cases for biomass, it is easy to overlook some GHG emissions when doing your final report. You'll need to remember that just because an emission isn't in your threshold calculations doesn't mean you don't need to report it.

The answer? Automate your GHG emission reporting and remove the risk of human errors and careless errors. Implementing a high quality EMS means that the program will come built-in with all the relevant special cases, saving you the work of monitoring government documents yourself. 

If you want to put your business in a better position for GHG reporting, download ERA’s free guide 'GHG for business guide'. Inside you’ll find information to help you calculate your GHG emissions, file your GHGRP report, and remove the hassle from your reporting responsibilities.

free ghg guide CTA

 

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ERA Environmental Alex

About the Author: Alex Chamberlain is a writer and blogger who regularly contributes to ERA Environmental Management Solutions' blog. You can find Alex on Google+LinkedIn & ERA's Environmental Compliance Blog