The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change sets desirable targets for the aggregate greenhouse gas emissions of the signatory parties. To comply with these aims, the parties must first agree on how to measure the emission levels to which they should return. The problems of defining and measuring aggregate greenhouse gas emissions for the UK are explored in this article. Emissions from anthropogenic sources such as energy can be relatively accurately measured, but less so those greenhouse gas fluxes associated with land use and other ‘natural’ phenomena. The issue of the scope of national inventories will be critical in the allocation of national permits or in bilateral resource transfers for the purpose of greenhouse gas emission reduction.

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