Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has partnered with three private entities for the conduct of an inventory of greenhouse gases (GHG) in Metro Manila’s 16 cities and one municipality.

“We intend to undertake under this project an inventory of greenhouse gases or carbon footprint down to the level of local government units. And this effort is going to be a milestone as this is the first of its kind in the world,” Paje said during the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Manila Observatory (MLAOB) chairman Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, S.J.; International Resources Group-L3 of the Climate Change and Clean Energy Project (CEnergy) Chief of Party Divina Chingcuanco; and SEED Institute President Carmen Ablan-Lagman Tuesday at the Bulwagan Ninoy at the Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City.

A “carbon footprint” is a measure of the impact of human activities on the environment, specifically relating to the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) produced by daily activities such as burning fossil fuels, which causes global warming and eventually leads to climate change.

“This project will entail an inventory of greenhouse gases (GHG), starting on November or December for the entire National Capital Region (NCR), and in January or February 2012, for each city or municipality in the region. The inventory is expected to be completed within 12 to 15 months,” Paje added.

According to him, the project would have scientists and experts in GHG inventory address issues in power, transport and waste management. It would also provide benchmark data for all sustainable development efforts within Metro Manila as it would track GHG emissions within and across city boundaries. The data would then help local government officials manage future emissions and offset their carbon emissions by participating in activities such as, among others, the National Greening Program.

The MOU-signing was also witnessed by Rolf Anderson, Chief of Office on Energy and Environment of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Frances Veronica Victorio, Director for Climate Change and Sustainability of SEED.

Under the MOU, SEED, CEnergy, and MLAOB would coordinate with local and foreign experts for the training of representatives of key sectors such as national agencies, local government units (LGUs) and the academe on conducting community-level GHG inventory.

SEED and CEnergy will lead in the data collection, computation and documentation, while the MLAOB will provide the quality control and assurance services. For its part, the DENR would enlist the support of other government agencies such as the Metro Manila Development Authority and the local government, transportation, and agriculture departments.

The project is also expected to develop the concept of a carbon bank to serve as repository of excess carbon removals by an LGU who has adopted technologies to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The carbon bank would then be updated yearly through the carbon registries of each LGU to serve as basis for the setting up a local carbon exchange program. The exchange program would lessen carbon emissions of other LGUs unable to achieve a “carbon-neutral status” without the carbon offsets to be offered by LGUs with high removals. Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount that has been offset, or by buying carbon credits to make up the difference.