Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 10/2008

Calculating CARMA: Global Estimation of CO2 Emissions from the Power Sector - Working Paper 145

Kevin Ummel, David Wheeler

May 2008

Center for Global Development


Senior fellow David Wheeler and research assistant Kevin Ummel provide a detailed description and assessment of their CARMA (Carbon Monitoring for Action) database that reports CO2 emissions from the power sector, which is the largest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions in the world (26 percent of the global total). The database also offers complete information about power plants and companies that emit no carbon by using non-fossil energy sources such as nuclear, hydro, solar, wind, biofuel, and geothermal. The CARMA database and website put anyone with web access a few keystrokes away from detailed knowledge about power plants and the companies that own and operate them.

In this paper, David Wheeler and Kevin Ummel provide a description of CARMA’s methodology, an assessment of its strengths and weaknesses, and some tests of its accuracy across countries and at different geographical scales. While CARMA performs well in these tests, they recognize that it is not yet perfect. They therefore invite any power plant or company that has verified emissions information that is different than the CARMA estimate to provide it to them to be incorporated into the database.