Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Building Australia's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data System

Greetings from QT Hotel at the souther end of Canberra's Business Boomerang where DAMA and ACS are holding a meeting on the databases used for running Australia's greenhouse gas emissions reporting system. Olga Lysenko,  Head of the Office of the CIO at the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) and Jeremy O Keefe, Business Intelligence Section of CER are speaking of the challenges of building and maintaining a system for a high profile and frequently chnaging area of government policy.

While the government policy on how to reduce emissions has changed every few years, the need for a system to track emissions has remained. There were problems with different contractors writing different systems for different aspects of emissions tracking systems, but the systems were workable and passed the political test (they did not appear in newspaper headlines).

One of the difficulties of such a system is that it has to track emissions from facilities, not just businesses. If a business sells a facility, such as smelter, its emissions need to continue to be tracked over time. In financial accounting terms the smelter would disappear from one firm's records and pop into existence on another, which is no use for tracking emissions. The CER system uses XML.

All of this is of close interest to me as I have a class of ANU students learning how to do the calculations needed for emissions monitoring, so they can build such systems.

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