How Climatiq handles data quality

While the emission factors provided by Climatiq are calculated by government agencies and top climate scientists, the occasional error is still detected by our science and data team. That means that some emission factors these bodies publish are inaccurate, wrong, or problematic in some way.

When Climatiq, or its users (that's you!) notice these mistakes we take one of several actions:

  • If the emission factor is wrong enough to be unusable we often decide to not include it into the API, so you won't even see it (although you will be able to see it in the underlying OEFDB).
  • If we deem the emission factor isn't unusable or misleading, we include it in the API, but describe any issues in the data_quality_flags parameter that is returned in a variety of endpoints. In addition to any flags, details of the issue will be included in the description field of the emission factor, which you can retrieve when searching emission factors.

The decision between these two approaches is made by carefully weighing up the potential impact of the application of an erroneous factor, the importance of adhering to the the source data provided, and an assessment of how best to inform users of the issue. An example of a response after performing an estimate with an emission factor that has data quality issues could look like this:

{
"co2e": 0.00262223427,
"co2e_unit": "kg",
"co2e_calculation_method": "ar5",
"co2e_calculation_origin": "source",
"emission_factor": {
"activity_id": "freight_flight-route_type_domestic-distance_na-weight_na-rf_excluded",
"uuid": "94634b2f-c8e1-460c-b73f-236ce32af15a",
"id": "freight_flight-route_type_domestic-distance_na-weight_na-rf_excluded",
"access_type": "public",
"source": "GHG Protocol",
"year": "2021",
"region": "GB",
"category": "Air Freight",
"lca_activity": "fuel_combustion",
// This list is not empty! That means there are data quality issues with this emission factor
"data_quality_flags": ["erroneous_calculation"]
},
"constituent_gases": {
"co2e_total": 0.00262223427,
"co2e_other": null,
"co2": 0.0026156100000000004,
"ch4": 2.34e-9,
"n2o": 2.475e-8
}
}

Notice the data_quality_flags which describes that there's something you should be mindful of when using this API. If data_quality_flags is empty, it means that Climatiq has not detected any issues with the emission factor.

The different data quality flags are as follows:

There is currently no way to automatically filter on emission factors with data quality issues, but we expect to provide more data quality flags and ways to filter on emission factors with data quality issues in the future.

If you need more tools to work with data quality, or you've found an emission factor that seems off, we'd love to hear from you.