16 March 2017
Transparency and Compliance Update: Experts Central to Confidence and Capacity Building
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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Expert reviews of 43 developed countries' and five developing countries' national reports are complete.

Many of these countries will participate in the multilateral assessment and facilitative sharing of views taking place in Bonn in May 2017.

10 March 2017: Experts played a central role in recent work related to measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) of countries’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. Expert teams’ reviews help build capacity for and trust in mitigation efforts, which can build confidence as the world strives to reach the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 (climate action).

This Update highlights the role of expert reviews in the UNFCCC’s transparency system, which formed the bulk actions in the transparency system in recent months. Expert teams served critical roles in the international consultation and analysis (ICA) process, the review of Annex I countries’ GHG inventories, among other items relevant to developed and developing countries’ reporting efforts.

The central role of experts in providing technical reviews of GHG emission inventories, national reports, and other items was recognized as the UNFCCC recently gave awards to several lead reviewers involved in the MRV process under the UNFCCC. To support national experts in developing countries, the UNFCCC Secretariat and the Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Research Center of Korea (GIR) launched a professional training programme on the transparency of climate action. The programme aims to provide training on GHG inventories to national experts from developing countries. [UNFCCC Press Release Awards] [UNFCCC Press Release Training Programme]

Technical Reviews of Non-Annex I Parties’ Reports Communicate Capacity Building Needs

From a decision in 2007 to establish transparency measures for developing countries sprung several elements to the MRV system for non-Annex I Parties. International consultation and analysis (ICA) represents the verification stage of national communications and biennial update reports (BURs) at the international level. There are two components: a technical analysis of BURs followed by a workshop for the facilitative sharing of views (FSV). In May 2017, several countries will engage in the FSV process, presenting their reports and answering questions from other Parties. [UNFCCC Mandated Events]

Technical analyses were recently concluded for the first BURs from Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Moldova, Morocco and Thailand, and help provide feedback on the completeness of the reports. The technical analyses found that India and Moldova included all the elements of the ICA guidelines in their BURs. Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand had most of the elements and Morocco had “part” of the information on the elements.

These technical reviews help identify and communicate what types of capacity building could support developing countries’ participation in the MRV system. Each report included capacity-building needs identified by the countries to facilitate their ability to meet the UNFCCC reporting guidelines for BURs. Each stressed the need for support for preparing and maintaining their national GHG inventories. Indonesia and Malaysia noted the need for support for developing and implementing an MRV system, with Morocco stressing the institutional aspects. Similarly, in a technical review of Chile’s forest reference emission level (FREL) and forest reference level (FEL), the review team agreed that the data used by Chile to construct its national levels were transparent and complete, and also identified areas for technical improvements. [ICA Indonesia] [ICA India] [ICA Malaysia] [ICA Moldova] [ICA Morocco] [ICA Thailand] [FREL / FEL Review Chile]

Identifying and communicating these capacity-building needs may be particularly important as countries negotiate the arrangements for the Paris Agreement’s transparency system that will be applicable to all. The Agreement envisages support provided to developing countries to foster the participation in the system, particularly for small island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs). At an inter-sessional workshop on the negotiations for the modalities, procedures and guidelines for the Paris Agreement’s transparency framework, which is meeting from 16-18 March 2017, delegates will discuss the information necessary for mitigation, adaptation, means of implementation (MOI), as well as the role of technical reviews. [Inter-sessional Workshop Agenda]

GHG Inventory Reviews Help Build Confidence

One part of the MRV process for Annex I countries is the annual submission of their GHG inventories for technical review. These inventories must include all sources of emissions from energy, industrial processes and product use, agriculture, land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) and waste. The inventories also must account for emissions removals by sinks. To provide a common basis for these inventories, there are common requirements established in the ‘Guidelines for the preparation of national communications by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, Part I: UNFCCC reporting guidelines on annual greenhouse gas inventories’ (UNFCCC Annex I inventory reporting guidelines). Expert Review Teams (ERTs) then undertake a review of the inventory against these and other guidelines set under the Kyoto Protocol.

Expert reviews were recently published for Belarus, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia. These reviews can help build confidence in the information provided. Since 2017 marks the first year for reporting under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, Parties are to provide a report to facilitate the calculation of their assigned amount, or levels of allowed emissions. These reports are to accompany their submission of their inventories. Under an agreement reached in 2015, experts will review the reports that facilitate the calculation of the assigned amount for the second commitment period. The experts also reviewed the reports submitted by Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia. [Assigned Amount Review Hungary] [Assigned Amount Review Latvia] [Assigned Review Lithuania] [Assigned Amount Review Slovakia]

Each expert review states if the information provided in the inventories is complete and consistent with the guidelines, and provides additional information gathered through subsequent discussions with the submitting Party. For example, the reviews of Hungary’s 2015 and 2016 submissions of inventories indicate that Hungary provided detailed explanations allowing the ERT to confirm the reported information was “accurate, comparable, consistent and complete.” [Review Hungary 2015 Submission] [Review Hungary 2016 Submission] [Review Lithuania 2015 Submission] [Review Lithuania 2016 Submission] [Review Slovakia 2015 Submission] [Review Slovakia 2016 Submission]

These reviews can also help improve the quality of the inventories over time. Each report includes a section stating previous recommendations to improve the inventories and how each has been followed up on. For Belarus, the team recommended that the next review be an in-country review to help facilitate the transparency, completeness, consistency and accuracy of the information provided given the challenges cited by the Party and team. By providing such recommendations, these reports provides a historic view of the evolution of the inventories over time. For example, the team recommended that Kazakhstan provide summary information on addressing previous recommendations. [Review Belarus] [Review Kazakhstan]

Reviews of Second Biennial Reports: First Step in Multilateral Assessment

In terms of other reporting from Annex I countries, the Secretariat published the status of submissions of Second Biennial Reports (BR2s). In addition to the technical review of Israel’s first BR, the Secretariat reports that it has received 43 BR2s from Annex I Parties. The multilateral assessment – a process of country-to-country review and discussion of the reports – of 24 of these countries took place at the Marrakech Climate Conference in November 2016. Reports from this multilateral assessment are on the UNFCCC website and mentioned in the Mitigation and Transparency Newsletter. The remaining 18 Parties, including the US and France, will undergo their multilateral assessment at the upcoming meeting in May in Bonn, Germany. Beforehand, countries can submit questions to the Parties, who can respond to those questions via the ‘MA Portal’ organized by the Secretariat. [Review of Israel BR] [Status of BR2 Submission] [Mitigation and Transparency Newsletter] [Multilateral Assessment Schedule May 2017] [UNFCCC Press Release MA Portal]

This issue of the Transparency and Compliance Update is the twelfth 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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