Transparency and Compliance Update: Technical Work on Enhanced Paris Agreement Framework Begins
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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At the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, Parties worked on the “rulebook” that will govern the implementation of the Paris Agreement, including its enhanced transparency framework.

On the margins of the Conference, several resources were released that are intended to aid in the development of the new transparency framework, including a subnational effort to track environmental services.

On the final day of the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, Jamaican Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith submitted the first first Biennial Update Report from among the Latin American and Caribbean small island developing State (SIDS).

28 November 2016: Recent news in the transparency realm under the international climate change regime has been dominated by the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, on 4 November, and the most recent round of climate change negotiations.

At the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, held from 7-18 November in Morocco, Parties worked on the “rulebook” that will govern the implementation of the Paris Agreement, including its enhanced transparency framework. On the margins of the Conference, several resources were released that are intended to aid in the development of the new transparency framework, including a subnational effort to track environmental services. In addition, the first Biennial Update Report (BUR) from a small island developing State (SIDS) in the Caribbean was submitted.

Transparency Negotiations in Marrakech

In Marrakech, under the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA), negotiations focused on how to operationalize the Paris Agreement’s common transparency framework while allowing flexibility to take into account Parties’ different capacities. Although the Agreement does not differentiate based on the Convention’s Annexes, many Parties stressed building on the existing framework under the Convention, including its principles related to differentiation.

The transparency framework developed under the UNFCCC is intended to increase international understanding of mitigation, adaptation and other actions toward fulfilling commitments outlined in the Convention and related decisions or agreements. It takes the form of national reporting through National Communications (NCs) from all Parties, as well as BURs from non-Annex I (developing country) Parties, and BRs and annual greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory submissions from Annex I (developed country) Parties. The transparency and compliance regime builds international trust and confidence that action to address climate change is underway, in addition to facilitating further assessment and action.

The Paris Agreement strengthens this transparency framework to be on par with the increased ambition and universal commitments of Parties under the Agreement. However, with the Agreement’s early entry into force, the APA acknowledged the need to accelerate its work to ensure that the modalities of the transparency framework under the Agreement are in place when it becomes effective. To that end, the APA decided to invite submissions from Parties on: the specific components of the modalities, procedures and guidelines for transparency of action and support; how to build on and enhance the transparency arrangements under the Convention; and how to operationalize flexibility for those developing countries that need it in the light of their capacities.

Parties requested the Secretariat to organize, under the guidance of the APA Co-Chairs, an intersessional workshop that will focus on themes covered in Parties’ submissions, starting with discussions on reporting and recognizing that it is closely linked with technical expert review and facilitative, multilateral consideration of progress.

In addition, Parties requested the Secretariat to organize, under the guidance of the APA Co-Chairs, an intersessional workshop that will focus on themes covered in Parties’ submissions, starting with discussions on reporting and recognizing that it is closely linked with technical expert review and facilitative, multilateral consideration of progress. The Co-Chairs will then prepare a workshop report for consideration at APA 1-3 (May 2017).

Reports Identify Lessons for Enhancing Transparency, Analyze Requirements for Developing Countries

During a side event held in Marrakech, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)/International Energy Agency (IEA) Climate Change Expert Group (CCXG) presented three documents that can inform Parties as they create the rulebook for the Paris Agreement’s transparency framework.

The first, titled ‘Enhancing Transparency of Climate Finance under the Paris Agreement: Lessons from Experience,’ considers the data collection, reporting and review of climate finance covered by the Paris Agreement: finance provided and mobilized by developed countries for developing countries; that provided and mobilized by other countries for developing countries; and that received by developing countries. Based on a review of current arrangements, the paper explores how information collection, reporting and review could be improved to support the aims of the Paris Agreement. The paper also identifies gaps in reporting and review, and notes implications for systems, institutions and capacity building.

The second paper, titled ‘Enhancing Transparency of Climate Change Mitigation under the Paris Agreement: Lessons from Experience,’ focuses on the existing framework for mitigation and ways it can inform the development of modalities, procedures and guidelines for the new framework. The authors note that the enhanced transparency framework will underpin the process of updating nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and provide input to the global stocktake, which is intended to ratchet up ambition to meet, among other things, the Agreement’s mitigation goals. The paper recommends clearer and more detailed reporting guidelines for communicating the mitigation components of NDCs, as well as for reporting on their implementation and achievement, with differentiation for the type of NDC. The authors further outline ways the current GHG inventory, BR and BUR review and analysis processes have positively impacted the quality of reporting under the UNFCCC. They call for similarly regular cycles of technical review and multilateral consideration to facilitate improvements in measurement and reporting.

Building on the work of the second paper, the third document, titled ‘Possible Structure of Mitigation-Related Modalities, Procedures and Guidelines for the Enhanced Transparency Framework,’ provides Parties with concrete examples of how they might structure the reporting guidelines for: GHG inventories; information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving NDCs under Article 4 (mitigation); technical expert review (focusing on mitigation); and multilateral consideration of progress. The paper also contributes possible contents of the covering decision. [CCXG Webpage] [Enhancing Transparency of Climate Finance under the Paris Agreement: Lessons from Experience] [Enhancing Transparency of Climate Change Mitigation under the Paris Agreement: Lessons from Experience] [Possible Structure of Mitigation-Related Modalities, Procedures and Guidelines for the Enhanced Transparency Framework]

On 14 November, the UN Environment (UNEP)-DTU Partnership released a report titled, ‘Understanding the Paris Agreement: Analysing the Reporting Requirements under the Enhanced Transparency Framework.’ The report seeks to inform negotiators as they discuss the reporting guidelines that will be necessary to track progress toward NDCs’ mitigation components. With the aim of building the knowledge of policymakers and decision makers in developing countries in particular, the authors identify and explain the reporting requirements created by the Paris Agreement. [UNEP-DTU Partnership Press Release] [Understanding the Paris Agreement: Analysing the Reporting Requirements under the Enhanced Transparency Framework]

Transparency Updates from Brazil and Jamaica

At another side event in Marrakech, the Brazilian state of Amazonas, the Sustainable Amazonas Foundation (FAS) and BVRio launched the Amazonas Environmental Services Registry, an online platform intended to allow the Amazonas government to track various environmental services. The Registry will begin with the tracking of emission reductions, which will contribute to the Brazilian NDC. REDD+ projects, a trading platform for Forest Reserve Credits and a module for rural landowners to register their land and its uses in compliance with Brazil’s current forestry code are all part of the initial design of the Registry. The founders of the Registry hope it will also facilitate fundraising with public, private and multilateral organizations. [BVRio Press Release]

On the final day of the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, Jamaican Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith submitted the first BUR from among the Latin American and Caribbean SIDS. One similarity, as already defined by the Paris Agreement, between the current transparency framework and the enhanced framework is the flexibility provided to SIDS and least developed countries (LDCs) in recognition of their special circumstances. These countries can submit BURs at their discretion and, as such, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said Jamaica has “set a very good example” for other SIDS by actively participating in the measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) activities under the UNFCCC. [UNFCCC Press Release] [Jamaica’s BUR]

This issue of the Transparency and Compliance Update is the tenth in a series produced by the SDG Knowledge Hub. 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.

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