The data relied upon for monitoring compliance with Paris climate change agreement is 'dodgy'
Potent, climate-warming gases are being emitted into the atmosphere but are not being recorded in official inventories, a BBC investigation has found.China is also emitting gases that are said to be much more warming than CO2 but declaring none of them. Life gets complicated for those trying to regulate the earth's thermostat. It may take an even more invasive regulatory regime than anyone imagined or would tolerate to make this agreement work.
Air monitors in Switzerland have detected large quantities of one gas coming from a location in Italy.
However, the Italian submission to the UN records just a tiny amount of the substance being emitted.
Levels of some emissions from India and China are so uncertain that experts say their records are plus or minus 100%.
These flaws posed a bigger threat to the Paris climate agreement than US President Donald Trump's intention to withdraw, researchers told BBC Radio 4's Counting Carbon programme.
In 2011, Swiss scientists first published their data on levels of a gas called HFC-23 coming from a location in northern Italy.
Between 2008 and 2010, they had recorded samples of the chemical, produced in the refrigeration and air conditioning industries, which is 14,800 times more warming to the atmosphere than CO2.
Now the scientists, at the Jungfraujoch Swiss air monitoring station, have told the BBC the gas is still going into the atmosphere.
"Our estimate for this location in Italy is about 60-80 tonnes of this substance being emitted every year. Then we can compare this with the Italian emission inventory, and that is quite interesting because the official inventory says below 10 tonnes or in the region of two to three tonnes," said Dr Stefan Reimann, from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology.
"They actually say it is happening, but they don't think it is happening as much as we see.
"Just to put it into perspective, this greenhouse gas is thousands of times stronger than CO2.