How does one ensure Parties are fulfilling their climate change commitments?
The answer is a transparency and compliance regime.
Transparency is vital for building international trust and confidence that action to address climate change is taking place, as well as for assessing how to facilitate further action.
In the last month, documents issued by the UNFCCC Secretariat put Australia, Liechtenstein and New Zealand under the microscope, along with 17 developed countries that participated in the true-up period of the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period (CP1).
A number of activities related to transparency for developing countries also took place.
2 May 2016: How does one ensure Parties are fulfilling their climate change commitments? The answer is a transparency and compliance regime. Transparency is vital for building international trust and confidence that action to address climate change is taking place, as well as for assessing how to facilitate further action. In the last month, documents issued by the UNFCCC Secretariat put Australia, Liechtenstein and New Zealand under the microscope, along with 17 developed countries that participated in the true-up period of the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period (CP1). A number of activities related to transparency for developing countries also took place.
The transparency framework developed under the UNFCCC is intended to increase the international understanding of mitigation, adaptation and other actions, as well as their effects, that are intended to fulfill commitments outlined in the Convention and related decisions or agreements. The transparency framework takes the form of national reporting through National Communications (NCs) from all Parties, as well as Biennial Update Reports (BURs) from non-Annex I or developing Parties and Biennial Reports (BRs) and annual greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory submissions from Annex I Parties (developed countries).
In addition, an International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) process has been established to fulfill the “V” aspect of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) for non-Annex I Parties by examining BURs through a technical analysis by a team of technical experts (TTE) and a facilitative sharing of views (FSV). Likewise, the international assessment and review (IAR) process allows for an in-depth examination of Annex I Party efforts through a technical review of each Annex I Party’s national reporting and a Multilateral Assessment (MA) of their progress towards achieving their economy-wide target. The FSV and MA are convened under the auspices of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and take the form of presentations by the Parties under review, followed by interactive question and answer (Q&A) periods with other Parties.
It should be noted that the Paris Agreement, in contrast, establishes a common transparency framework for all countries, with a process to provide enhanced data and tracking progress against their commitments on mitigation, adaptation and support. Once the transparency framework under the Paris Agreement is in force, it will not differentiate between non-Annex I Parties and Annex-I Parties, although it does allow more flexibility for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS).
Annual GHG Inventories Examined
Within three weeks of receiving a Party’s GHG inventory, the UNFCCC Secretariat prepares a draft status report as part of an initial assessment that aims to ensure each Annex I Party submits a consistent, complete and timely annual inventory in the correct format. The initial assessment is published on the UNFCCC website as a “status report.”
Liechtenstein’s 2015 inventory has undergone this initial assessment and the Secretariat released its status report (FCCC/ASR/2015/LIE) on 5 April. The final status report, along with the Party’s comments on both this report and the original draft, will be forwarded to the expert review team (ERT), which produces a final individual inventory review report. [Status Report of the Annual Inventory of Liechtenstein]
On 13 April, the final individual inventory review reports of two Parties’ 2015 inventory submissions, Australia (FCCC/ARR/2015/AUS) and New Zealand (FCCC/ARR/2015/NZL), were released. The reviews were conducted 14-19 September 2015 (Australia) and 28 September – 3 October 2015 (New Zealand).
The documents report on methodological, technical, reporting and other issues related to transparency, comparability, accuracy and adherence to the relevant guidelines, as identified by the ERT in the Party’s 2015 inventory submission, as well as issues identified in previous reviews that have now been resolved. The reports also relay which issues have been identified in three or more successive reviews but have yet to be resolved by the Party. [Report on the Individual Review of the Inventory Submission of Australia Submitted in 2015] [Report on the Individual Review of the Inventory Submission of New Zealand Submitted in 2015]
The Secretariat periodically trains the experts that serve on ERTs, and one such course, the GHG inventory training seminar, took place 19-21 April in Bonn, Germany. The three-day seminar, which includes a final examination, followed a training programme offered online March-April 2016. Completing the training and passing the examination qualifies experts to be invited to serve as ERT members for the Annex I GHG inventory review process. [Training Programmes for the Review of Information Submitted by Annex I Parties Webpage]
Last of True-Up Period Review Reports Finalized
The UNFCCC Secretariat is coordinating a comprehensive assessment of whether Parties complied with their CP1 commitments as laid out in Article 3.1 of the Kyoto Protocol, which provides that Annex I Parties will ensure that their aggregate anthropogenic GHG emissions do not exceed their assigned amounts, with a view to reducing their overall emissions of such gases by at least 5% below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008 to 2012. During the true-up period (10 August – 18 November 2015), Annex I Parties had 100 days to make up any shortfall in meeting their emission reduction targets in CP1.
During the true-up period review (8-12 February 2016), ERTs assessed whether information submitted in developed country Kyoto Protocol Parties’ true-up reports is: reported as mandated by the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to Kyoto Protocol (CMP); consistent with information contained in the compilation and accounting database (CAD) and the Party’s registry; and free of problems or inconsistencies.
The UNFCCC Secretariat published 16 True-Up Period Review Reports (TPRs) on 31 March. These reports are intended to enable the determination of the Party’s compliance with its emission reductions obligations. TPRs have been released for the following countries: Australia (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/AUS); the EU (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/EU); Finland (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/FIN); Greece (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/GRC); Iceland (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/ISL); Ireland (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/IRL); Latvia (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/LVA); Lithuania (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/LTU); New Zealand (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/NZL); Poland (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/POL); Portugal (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/PRT); Romania (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/ROU); the Russian Federation (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/RUS); Spain (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/ESP); Sweden (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/SWE); and the UK (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/GBR). The final TPR, Ukraine’s (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/TPR/UKR), was published 8 April. The TPR process will be followed by the preparation of the final compilation and accounting (C&A) report for each Annex I Party. The C&A reports will be ready by August 2016 and forwarded to CMP 12. The C&A reports are the final “proof” of compliance. They will contain the final CP1 data on GHG emissions, the quantity of Kyoto Protocol units retired, and, if applicable, the units available for carry-over or the quantity by which GHG emissions exceeded the Kyoto Protocol units retired.
For each of the 16 Parties whose TPRs were published on 31 March, the ERTs concluded that: the information submitted covers all elements required by relevant CMP decisions; the Party’s aggregate anthropogenic GHG emissions in CP1 do not exceed the quantity of Kyoto Protocol units in its retirement account for CP1; and the requested amounts of assigned amount units (AAUs), certified emission reductions (CERs) and emission reduction units (ERUs) to be carried over to CP2 were consistent with CMP-agreed requirements. No questions of implementation were identified by the ERTs in any Party’s case. In Greece’s TPR, the ERT notes that the Party submitted its true-up period report three days after the deadline and recommends that Greece ensures the timely preparation and submission of its national reports in the future.
In Ukraine’s TPR, the ERT noted the Party’s report was submitted two months after the deadline and the information submitted in the report only covers some of the required elements. According to the TPR, Ukraine’s national registry has been disconnected from the international transaction log (ITL) since August 2015, and Ukraine has not retired any ERUs, CERs, temporary CERs (tCERs), long-term CERs (lCERs), AAUs or removal units (RMUs) for the purpose of demonstrating its compliance with its commitment under Article 3.1. The ERT also notes that the data in the Party’s true-up period report and in its 2015 standard electronic format (SEF) tables cannot be considered accurate as they are not consistent with the information from the ITL. The ERT concluded that the aggregate anthropogenic GHG emissions of Ukraine for CP1 exceed the quantity of retired units by 1,999,434,250 tonnes carbon dioxide (CO2)-equivalent. The ERT points to the issues related to reporting and exceeding the quantity of retired units as “unresolved problem[s] pertaining to language of a mandatory nature” and thus considers them as questions of implementation. [Reporting and Review Process for the True-Up Period of CP1 of the Kyoto Protocol Website] [Reports on the Individual Review of the Report upon Expiration of the Additional Period for Fulfilling Commitments (True-Up Period) for CP1 of the Kyoto Protocol of Australia, EU, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, UK and Ukraine]
Question Submission Period for First FSV Open
The first FSV workshop will take place 20-21 May during the SBI’s 44th session in Bonn, Germany. As of 1 March, Parties were invited to submit any questions for the countries undergoing FSV at SBI 44. Questions can relate to any general aspects of the Party’s BUR and finalized summary report, as well as specifically to: national circumstances and institutional arrangements; national GHG inventories; mitigation actions and their effects; constraints, gaps and related financial, technical and capacity building needs, including support needed and received; and information on domestic MRV. Questions will be accepted through 19 May.
Parties undergoing FSV at SBI 44 are: Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Namibia, Peru, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, the former Yugoslav Republic of (fYR) Macedonia, Tunisia and Viet Nam. The question period allows Parties to prepare answers in conjunction with their presentations during the FSV. [FSV Webpage] [Question Submission Template] [Map of Parties Undergoing FSV at SBI 44]
Capacity Building for National Reporting
The Consultative Group of Experts on National Communications from Parties Not Included in Annex I to the Convention (CGE) holds, as part of its work programme, periodic regional workshops focused on facilitating the preparation of BURs. The workshop for the Asia-Pacific and Eastern European regions was held from 4-6 April, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The COP established the CGE in 1999 for the purpose of providing the technical support needed by developing countries to meet their reporting obligations. [CGE Webpage] [Agenda for CGE Regional Training Workshop for the Asia-Pacific and Eastern European Regions on BUR Preparation] [CGE Workshops and Meetings Webpage]
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) published two tools as part of its Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use (AFOLU) Emission Analysis Tools suite. The first, the Emissions Overview tool, allows the user to easily find a country’s agriculture emissions, based on the FAOSTAT Emissions database, by source category. The second, the QA/QC and Verification tool, facilitates the comparison of national agricultural GHG inventory data as reported to the UNFCCC with the data from the FAOSTAT Emissions database. Equivalent tools for the land-use sector are expected soon. The Government of Norway supported the development of the tools through the Monitoring and Assessment of GHG Emissions and Mitigation Potential in Agriculture project, which is a part of the Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture (MICCA) Programme at FAO. [AFOLU Emissions Analysis Tools] [Emissions Overview Tool] [QA/QC and Verification Tool] [FAO MICCA Webpage]
This issue of the transparency update is the third in a series produced by IISD RS. It aims to provide an overview of reporting activities by UNFCCC Parties, as well as the related monitoring and assessment work carried out by the UNFCCC Secretariat and other organizations.