Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of Methane: Biogas Sector

MRV Resource Center

Benefits of Biogas Sector MRV

Develop National Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventories Using Biogas Project MRV Data

Biogas sector MRV can provide a wealth of data that can be used to improve GHG emissions inventories.

GHG Inventory Methodologies for the Biogas Sector

According to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (published in 2006 and subsequently refined, most recently in 2019), there are typically three key methodological considerations for estimating emissions from a particular source:

  • Availability of activity data. Activity data refer to information about processes that result in emissions or removals over a certain time period (e.g., amount of organic waste sent to a landfill).
  • Availability of emissions factors. Emissions factors are values that represent a quantity of emissions per unit of activity (e.g., tons of methane emissions per ton of organic waste landfilled).
  • Choice of method. The 2006 IPCC Guidelines provide three tiers of methods for estimating emissions from a particular sector:
    • Tier 1 methods are based on generic models and default values (e.g., for activities and emissions factors), and generally result in higher uncertainties.
    • Tier 2 methods build on Tier 1 methods, but often include country-specific data (e.g., country-specific activity data).
    • Tier 3 methods use country- and facility-specific data and tailored models to produce estimates that typically have lower uncertainty.

Leveraging MRV to Employ Higher-Tier Methods and Enhance GHG Inventories

Many governments currently use Tier 1 methods for emissions categories in the biogas sector, which can often result in +/-50 percent uncertainty for biogas sector categories.

Opportunities for using data acquired through MRV to advance to higher-tier methods include:

  • Refining Recovery Estimates. Governments can use data on methane recovery from biogas projects to develop nation-specific recovery rates and improve inventories, rather than using generic default values.
  • Improving Activity Data. Governments can leverage biogas project MRV of emissions to develop better-informed estimates of activities that contribute emissions and practices that avoid them.
  • Developing Country-Specific Emissions Factors. Governments can use MRV data to develop country-specific emissions factors for biogas sector sources.

Enhance Mitigation Targets in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) using Biogas Project MRV Data

Biogas project MRV can help inform national mitigation targets in NDCs and enable national governments to better track their progress toward mitigation commitments.

What are NDCs?

NDCs outline a countries’ efforts to reduce national emissions and contribute to the achievement of the long-term goals set forth in the Paris Agreement.

The first round of NDCs were submitted in anticipation of and shortly after the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Countries are asked to update their NDCs every five years, and as of November 2021, over 150 countries have submitted a new or updated NDC.

NDCs will be reviewed as part of a global “stocktake” of efforts toward achieving global mitigation targets, the first of which will be conducted in 2023 (and every five years thereafter).

Why Include Methane Emissions Reductions in Updated NDCs?

Research indicates that without significant reductions in short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane, global temperature increases will exceed 2.0°C by 2100.

As the biogas sector is responsible for approximately 20 percent of anthropogenic methane emissions, actions in this sector can play a critical role in meeting global mitigation targets.

Approaches to Including Methane in NDCs

As governments develop their NDCs, they can consider integrating efforts to mitigate biogas methane emissions by:

  • Identifying the largest sources of anthropogenic methane emissions in the biogas sector (e.g., landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, agricultural operations).
  • Establishing emissions reductions goals by source category (targets can be a percentage reduction in relation to the baseline year or a specific metric ton reduction).
  • Identifying specific strategies to mitigate anthropogenic methane by sector and source category (e.g., requiring methane recovery from all new landfills).
  • Establishing protocols for measuring methane emissions and emissions reductions for incorporation into national communications (e.g., Biennial Transparency Reports starting no later than 2024).
  • Developing a national database of emissions reductions to more easily track and link project-level data to NDC commitments.
  • Indicating in their NDCs where the country is lacking the resources or capacity required to collect data to make MRV viable.
Examples of Countries that Have Included Methane Targets in Their NDCs
  • Rwanda’s first NDC highlighted the need for action in the solid waste sector. This NDC described the rapid growth in waste-related methane emissions under a business-as-usual scenario. The country set a target of reducing landfill methane emissions by approximately 600,000 tonnes CO2e by 2030 and intends to institute regulations on landfill emissions and using landfill gas collection and utilization (Government of Rwanda, 2015).
  • Dominica’s NDC includes a goal of reducing emissions from the solid waste sector by 78.6 percent by 2030, which it will achieve by addressing methane emissions from its existing landfill, which was built in 2005. Methane generated at the landfill is currently vented, but the country proposes to reduce emissions by increasing organic waste diversion and installing a flaring system (Government of Dominica, 2015).
  • Uruguay’s NDC presents an unconditional 57 percent reduction in methane emissions intensity per gross domestic product unit from base year 1990 by 2025, and a conditional 59 percent reduction. In the waste sector, unconditional objectives will be met through the introduction of methane capture and flaring in solid urban waste disposal systems (Government of Uruguay, 2017).

Best Practices for the Biogas Sector

Methane mitigation projects in the biogas sector include:
  • Landfill gas recovery from solid waste;
  • Anaerobic digester projects for organic solid waste, agricultural waste, and wastewater.

There are common principles and best practices for measurement, reporting, and verification of emissions reductions for each of these types of biogas projects.

Government agencies can use the best practices outlined here to develop MRV systems and plans that are tailored toward their specific needs. These principles support the basic requirements of any emissions accounting framework, as identified below.


From a bottom-up perspective, the most important component of MRV is the measurement of data. This core component provides the basis for claiming emissions reductions from the action(s) taken.

Develop a measurement plan

The main activity for measurement is the collection and management of data and information to support documentation of emissions reductions. Developing and implementing a comprehensive measurement plan is a critical step in this process. A measurement plan provides facility personnel with a blueprint of key steps, including defining what data and information need to be collected (e.g., gas flow rates), how the data and information need to be collected, how data are checked for accuracy, and how to aggregate and summarize the data to determine the GHG reductions achieved.

Choose a method for quantifying emissions reductions
Methane emissions reductions should be quantified at least annually. Depending on the circumstances and requirements of the reporting program, emissions reductions can be quantified using ex-ante or ex-post methods.
  • Ex-ante quantification involves modeling and forecasting potential emissions or emissions reductions. These estimates are generally based on assumptions and have a significant margin of error.
  • Ex-post quantification is based on data captured from the project site. Ex-post measurement is often required for formal emissions reductions reports (e.g., under carbon offsets protocols).
Use established methodologies and tools
Using established methodologies – such as those based on IPCC GHG inventory guidelines – is considered a best practice. GMI provides several tools and resources for measuring emissions and emissions reductions for the biogas sector. Links to these tools and resources are provided below.
Keep accurate records and project documentation
In addition to emissions reductions data, it is important to document:
  • Methodologies used to quantify emissions reductions
  • GHGs included in the project’s scope
  • Activity data and how they are measured
  • Baseline and any other underlying assumptions
  • Sources of uncertainty
  • Data sources
  • Any data gaps associated with the period for which biogas mitigation efforts are quantified
Resolve data gaps and identify accurate data substitutes

Monitoring and data collection equipment will often fail or have interruptions during a monitoring period. Frequently, emissions mitigation programs will have specific requirements and methods to substitute for missing data.

Without specific guidance, projects should seek to use methods that are reasonable, supported by other data during the measurement period, and are conservative in nature.

IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories include methods for resolving data gaps using techniques such as overlap, surrogate data, interpolation, and trend extrapolation.


Reporting is intended to track and store GHG information and inform interested parties of results. Reports might need to be submitted to:

  • National government agencies, as required under national GHG emissions reporting programs;
  • Local governments, as required for developing municipal emissions inventories;
  • Voluntary programs and networks (e.g., CDP, C40 Cities, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy).

Ensure the right project data will be reported
The type of information reported, and the level of detail desired, will vary depending on the reporting program.

Information that is typically required by reporting programs include:
  • Project proponent name and contact information
  • Project location
  • Time period for emissions reductions
  • Baseline emission and emissions reductions
  • Proposed improvement plan (if required)
Report data regularly

Aligning with the best practice of quantifying emissions reductions annually, most programs require annual reporting of GHG emissions and reductions. Programs may have more frequent deadlines for reporting monitoring data.


Verification is intended to provide assurance on the methodologies used to quantify mitigation actions and the quality of data reported. It can also serve as a tool and learning process for project operators by raising awareness about opportunities for continuous improvement.

Follow the typical steps involved in verification
Verification for all biogas subsectors involves the same basic steps:
  • Receive initial GHG data and documentation
  • Conduct strategic analysis
  • Conduct risk assessment
  • Create/modify risk-based verification and sampling plan
  • Review GHG data and documentation
  • Visit facility/project
  • Develop clarifications or corrective actions
  • Receive additional data and documentation (if needed)
  • Issue verification statement

The level of effort required for verification is most affected by project-specific conditions, data management, and the requirements of a particular reporting program.

Ensure data is verified by a third-party and against standards

As a best practice, GHG data and information should be verified by a third-party verification body, which will ensure impartiality and reduce risks, while increasing the reliability of both data and any emissions offsets as a result of mitigation efforts.

Verifications should be conducted to a verification standard and specified criteria. The standard could be the International Organization for Standardization 14064-3:2019 Greenhouse Gases – Part 3: Specification with Guidance for the Verification and Validation of Greenhouse Gas Statements; or a standard developed specifically for the reporting program or country.

Adhere to verification content, frequency, and site visit expectations

The verification must include more than an assessment of the reported emissions reductions. It should include an assessment of project boundaries, documentation checks, onsite inspections, a review of measurement and metering methods and equipment, an assessment of data collection and management systems, and an independent calculation of emissions reductions achieved by the project.

While it is a best practice to report annually, verification could be completed every other year, every three years, or even less frequently if an initial verification is conducted early in the mitigation project’s lifecycle.

Almost all programs require the project to be physically visited during its initial verification of the measurement period. After this initial visit, requirements for when another visit needs to occur vary widely.

Resources for the Biogas Sector

Key Resources

Resources for understanding and conducting MRV are listed below. For a more complete list of MRV resources, protocols, standards, and tools see GMI’s MRV Handbook.

GMI Tools

GMI provides several tools and resources for measuring emissions and emissions reductions for the biogas sector.

Global Methane Initiative (GMI)
Building global relationships and capacity to act on methane