A transparency and compliance regime 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, the UNFCCC Secretariat has released updates regarding national reporting from Parties on their climate change action, including a status report on Switzerland's greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, the status of Biennial Report (BR) submissions and assistance from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to developing countries for their Biennial Update Reports (BURs).
In addition, during the Bonn Climate Change Conference, held 16-26 May, 13 developing country Parties presented their experience with preparing BURs and the GEF updated participants on progress toward establishing and funding the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT).
1 June 2016: A transparency and compliance regime 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, the UNFCCC Secretariat has released updates regarding national reporting from Parties on their climate change action, including a status report on Switzerland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, the status of Biennial Report (BR) submissions and assistance from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to developing countries for their Biennial Update Reports (BURs). In addition, during the Bonn Climate Change Conference, held 16-26 May, 13 developing country Parties presented their experience with preparing BURs, and the GEF updated participants on progress toward establishing and funding the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT).
UNFCCC Secretariat Releases National Reporting Updates
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 BURs from non-Annex I or developing country Parties, and BRs and annual GHG inventory submissions from Annex I or developed country Parties.
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.”
Switzerland’s 2015 inventory has undergone this initial assessment and the Secretariat released its status report (FCCC/ASR/2015/CHE) on 18 May. The final status report, along with the Party’s comments on both the original draft and the status report, will be forwarded to the expert review team (ERT), which produces a final individual inventory review report. [Status Report of the Annual Inventory of Switzerland]
Ahead of the May intersessional climate change negotiations in Bonn, the UNFCCC Secretariat published an information note (FCCC/SBI/2016/INF.1) on the status of the second BRs, updating on their submission by Annex I Parties and their review. The deadline for submission of the second BRs was 1 January 2016. According to the report, as of 26 April 2016, the Secretariat had received 41 BRs, 28 of which were on time. The report contains a table outlining the dates BRs were received from Parties, as well as the weeks scheduled for their centralized reviews. [Status of Submission and Review of Second BRs]
The Secretariat also made available a note (FCCC/SBI/2016/INF.2) containing the report from the GEF on how it has been supporting the preparation of NCs and BURs by non-Annex I Parties. For each developing country Party listed in the note, the GEF outlines the: date of the Party’s last report submission to the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP); date it requested funding assistance; date it was approved by the GEF; date of disbursement; and approximate dates for completion and submission of the upcoming report. [Information Provided by the GEF on Its Activities Relating to the Preparation of BURs]
Developing Countries Present BURs at Bonn Climate Change Conference
In addition to reporting, 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 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 the economy-wide target. The FSV and MA are convened under the auspices of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and consist of presentations by the Parties under review, followed by interactive question and answer (Q&A) periods with other Parties.
During the May intersessional negotiations, the first FSV workshop was held, with 13 countries (Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Namibia, Peru, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, the former Yugoslav Republic of (fYR) Macedonia, Tunisia and Viet Nam) presenting their BURs. In addition to reporting on emissions and trends, as well as policies and measures in their countries, the Parties answered questions submitted in advance or posed by other Parties during the workshop. [FSV Webpage] [On-Demand Webcast of FSV Workshop – Day 1] [On-Demand Webcast of FSV Workshop – Day 1 (Continued)] [On-Demand Webcast of FSV Workshop – Day 2]
In other MRV news, the Government of Ecuador has created an MRV system in order to calculate GHG emissions, quantify benefits, store information and generate reports related to its efficient cooking Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA). The first of its kind in the country, the system can be expanded to track other mitigation actions, with the potential to become a comprehensive tool for tracking progress toward Ecuador’s nationally determined contribution (NDC). [International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV Press Release]
Work Begins toward the Enhanced Transparency Framework under the Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement, in contrast to differentiating the reporting and review requirements based on the Convention’s Annexes, establishes a common transparency framework for all countries, with a process to provide enhanced data and tracking against their commitments on mitigation, adaptation and support. Once the transparency framework under the Paris Agreement is in force, it will apply to all Parties to the Agreement, although it does allow more flexibility to take into account Parties’ different capacities.
The Climate Change Expert Group (CCXG) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a paper that guides the reader through the enhanced transparency framework for tracking mitigation and provision of support under the Paris Agreement and its associated decision. The paper also considers how the new framework builds on the old, what information is necessary for tracking mitigation progress against NDCs and how to report on provision of means of implementation (MOI). [Unpacking Provisions Related to Transparency of Mitigation and Support in the Paris Agreement] [CCXG Webpage]
During the May negotiations, delegates began discussing what shape the transparency framework will take exactly, exchanging views on allowing for flexibility, as well as its linkages with other parts of the Agreement. As the transparency framework will be a key aspect of ensuring Parties are meeting their NDC submission obligations and making progress toward the mitigation and adaptation objectives of the Agreement through their NDCs, negotiators also discussed the type of registry/ies that would be created to house Parties’ NDCs and adaptation communications. The registry/ies will be an important component for facilitating the implementation of the transparency framework. While the final form the registry/ies will take is still in development, the Secretariat released an interim registry to house NDCs as Parties ratify the Agreement. This interim portal was launched on 6 May. [UNFCCC Press Release]
Capacity Building for Transparency and Compliance
Another new component to the transparency regime created by the Paris Agreement is the CBIT, which is meant to provide financial support to developing countries to build their institutional and technical capabilities for meeting their enhanced reporting requirements under the Agreement. In May, a number of pledges to fund the CBIT were reported, including US$14.4 million from the UK, US$5 million from Canada and US$15 million over the next three years from the US. New Zealand has also expressed its intention to pledge.
The GEF, which is charged with establishing the CBIT, hosted an event on 19 May at the Bonn Climate Change Conference to update participants on its progress making arrangements for the CBIT, discuss operationalization and consider areas for collaboration. On 7-9 June, two documents will be presented at the GEF Council, one on the establishment of a new trust fund for the CBIT and the other on programming directions. [NAMA News Press Release] [GEF Press Release] [GEF Event Agenda] [Establishment of a New Trust Fund for the CBIT] [Programming Directions for the CBIT]
To help facilitate industry reporting of GHG data, the World Bank has released a tool explaining how to design, develop and implement GHG data management systems for corporate- and facility-level reporting. Building on experiences in over ten different jurisdictions, the Partnership for Market Readiness (PMR) developed the guide to help foster transparency and accountability as countries work toward post-2020 mitigation targets. It includes lessons on: making the system responsive under evolving regulations or a change from voluntary to mandatory reporting; financing the cost of acquiring and maintaining data; and whether to build a system that can exchange data with another system. [GHG Data Management: Building Systems for Corporate/Facility-Level Reporting]
This issue of the Transparency and Compliance Update is the fourth 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.