‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure’ – Drawdown Georgia’s GHG tracking tool
By David Pendered
Drawdown Georgia has unveiled an online tool to track greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions statewide and in each Georgia county. It is the initiative’s second major science-backed effort to help reduce GHG emissions.
The new database provides a user-friendly look at GHG emissions by five sectors: industrial, transportation, residential, commercial and agricultural. Forests are measured for their absorption of emissions.
The tracker was developed by William Drummond, at Georgia Tech, in conjunction with colleagues at Tech and the University of Georgia. Drummond is an associate professor in Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning. These institutions, and others, are part of Drawdown Georgia, a statewide organization created to accelerate the state’s progress toward net-zero GHG emissions.
The tracking project intends to address the adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
To illustrate the power of the database, Drummond provided a sample and interpretation of data from Augusta and its five-county metro area.
The findings reveal GHG emissions in the Augusta region are more than 50 percent higher than statewide emissions, on a per-person basis. This results from the area’s high level of industrial emissions. The area is home to the PCS Nitrogen Fertilizer L.P. facility, which is the state’s largest emitter of CO2, with the exception of power plants.
Plant Vogtle is within metro Augusta in Burke County. It now releases virtually zero GHG emissions to produce power to serve more than 1.8 million households. The two new reactors being built are to double the plant’s generation capacity. The tracker does not count emissions related to generating all the electricity consumed in Georgia. About a fifth of Georgia’s electricity is generated in Alabama, according to another document on the tracker site.
Burke County has the state’s second-highest total level of agricultural emissions. The agriculture emissions per capita are nearly 13 percent higher than the statewide total average.
The information provided by the GHG tracker is intended to inform public policy and private behaviors to reduce the emissions of materials that contribute to global warming.
The tracker is the second project by professors associated with Drawdown Georgia. The first was a groundbreaking study released July 26, 2021, and available from an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health, “A framework for localizing global climate solutions and their carbon reduction potential.”
The framework established that Georgia could curb carbon emissions by 50 percent in 2030, compared to 2005 levels, if entities in the state adopted 20 solutions previously identified by Drawdown Georgia scientists.
Marilyn Brown led the team of Drawdown Georgia scientists assembled from Georgia Tech, University of Georgia and Emory University to produce the analysis of potential solutions. Previously, solutions at a subnational level were difficult to assess because data is at the global or national levels. The new model localizes the framework of abatement plans that exist on a larger geography. The project was funded by the Ray C. Anderson Foundation.
In describing the value of the framework, Brown observed, “This analysis validates the viability of the Drawdown Georgia roadmap and shows how the state, its businesses, and its people can benefit by being trailblazers.”