NEW YORK (Reuters) - With pressure growing on the U.S. government to regulate greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, 31 U.S. states will start a registry next year to track those emissions with an eye toward reducing them.
"If you don't have a sense of what your disease is you can't diagnose it," Heather Kaplan, a climate policy analyst at the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, who has worked to help form registry, said in a telephone interview.
The Climate Registry will log emissions from corporations, nonprofit groups, and municipalities in states representing 70 percent of the U.S. population. Two Canadian provinces, British Columbia and Manitoba, also have agreed to participate.
The tool to track, verify, and publicly report greenhouse emissions across industry sectors and state borders was formed by the governors and environment secretaries of the states. It will start accepting emissions data in January 2008.
"The big story here is that this many states from all sides of the political spectrum have established a registry together," said Kaplan. The United States is the world's top emitter of carbon dioxide and the other five heat-trapping gases scientists link to global warming.
She said there was "no way" that entities could overstate their emissions in an attempt to ease any future emissions limits placed on them, because all emissions logged will be verified by a third party.
Scientists say greenhouse emissions could lead to more deadly droughts, heat waves and flooding.
Unlike developed countries in Europe, the United States, the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases, does not regulate them. But states on both coasts have formed regional pacts to cut emissions, and several bills in U.S. Congress seek a national cap.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the East seeks to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. California, which is seeking to cut greenhouse emissions 25 percent by 2020, and four other states have formed the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative to cut emissions.
The registry will support those programs and other states taking actions to cut greenhouse gases. It was modeled on the California Climate Action Registry which has certified more than 300 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, about the amount of Brazil's greenhouse emissions.
The log anticipates opening several regional support offices throughout the country.
Companies and organizations could log early actions in cutting greenhouse gases on the registry and possibly get credit for them if future state or national limits on the gases are passed.