In the Paris Agreement, 195 countries agreed to work towards the independent verification of their emissions and emission reductions. However, the accurate measurement of greenhouse gases is still in its infancy. TNO is working with partners to model the atmosphere in order to better understand the effects of emissions on climate change. Work is also underway on a European verification system for greenhouse gases.

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Emissions are now monitored primarily on the basis of statistics, which in many places are unreliable, incomplete or insufficiently detailed. At the same time, it’s becoming increasingly important for cities and individual sectors to be able to measure their own progress. This creates the need for a better picture of greenhouse gas emissions.

Measuring greenhouse gases

In order to achieve this, TNO is working on ways to identify methane, CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions with the help of measurements. Measurement and satellite data must be recalculated away from concentrations and towards emissions and their various sources. In the long run, a great deal is expected from the use of satellites to measure emissions.

Within the Ruisdael Observatory – part of the NWO’s National Roadmap Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure – TNO is working with partners on the modelling and understanding of atmospheric processes. This understanding is necessary in order to be able to relate measured concentrations to (human) sources of emissions. As a first step, TNO is working on a pilot with measurements in the Rijnmond area. In addition, we’re quantifying methane emissions in the oil, gas and waste industries.

A European verification system

Alongside international partners in the VERIFY and CHE projects, TNO is working on a European greenhouse gas verification system. In the first stage, verification will mainly identify gaps in emission inventories so that they can be improved. Ultimately, verification will be used during the five-yearly ‘stock takings’ of the Paris Agreement, during which progress towards achieving the goals will be assessed. This will provide more clarity on the actual emission reductions.

Support for policy choices

Over time, information from measurements and verification systems will show where and in which sectors progress is being made. On this basis, supplementary measures can be taken in the most effective areas. These projects can therefore make a good contribution to policy choices.


Dr. Ir. Gerard van der Laan

  • Research Manager Climate Air
  • Sustainability
  • Climate
  • Emissions
  • Air pollution

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