The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has released a set of 44 recommended indicators for measuring climate change in an internationally comparable way. The indicators aim to help European countries track and report their progress towards nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. 

All countries must begin reporting on their climate action and support by 2024.

UNECE reports that in the lead-up to the Glasgow Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 26), interest is rising in reliable figures on climate change to show not only that the climate is changing, but also why, with what impacts, and the extent of responses underway. The Paris Agreement’s Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) requires all governments to begin providing biennial transparency reports on climate action and support by 31 December 2024.

The set of suggested climate change indicators was developed by an expert task force of the Conference of European Statisticians (CES). In 2020, the heads of national statistical offices (NSOs) in over 60 CES member countries endorsed the indicator set. 

Published on 31 August 2021, the CES Indicator Set covers: drivers of climate change; emissions; impacts; mitigation; and adaptation. The indicators were selected based on policy relevance, methodological soundness, and data availability. 

The indicators on drivers of climate change include:  

  • Total energy use by national economy
  • Energy intensity of production activities
  • Household energy use per capita
  • Share of fossil fuels in energy use and energy supply, support for fossil fuels in relation to GDP
  • Losses of vegetation-covered land

On emissions, the indicators cover:

  • Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the national economy
  • CO2 emissions from fuel combustion attributable to the national economy
  • GHG emissions from land use change (LULUCF)
  • GHG emission intensity of production activities
  • Direct GHG emissions from households

The indicators on climate change impacts cover:

  • Mean temperature anomaly, “compared to climate normal 1961 – 1990”
  • Water stress
  • Carbon stock in soil
  • Degraded land
  • Deaths, missing persons, destroyed dwellings, and agricultural loss attributed to hydro-meteorological disasters
  • Direct economic loss attributed to hydro-meteorological disasters in relation to GDP
  • Extremes of temperatures and precipitation
  • Incidence of climate-related vector-borne diseases, excess heat-related deaths

On mitigation, the indicators include:

  • Renewable energy share in energy use and consumption
  • Climate change mitigation expenditure in relation to GDP
  • Energy and transport-related taxes
  • Climate change-related subsidies in relation to GDP
  • Average trading carbon price
  • Net emissions/removals of carbon dioxide by forest land

Adaptation indicators cover:  

  • Government adaptation expenditure in relation to GDP
  • Change in water use efficiency
  • Proportion of agricultural area under productive and sustainable agriculture
  • Green urban areas as share of total area in cities

Of the 44 indicators, eight are SDG indicators or are “conceptually identical.” These are indicators from SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable and modern energy), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 13 (climate action), and 15 (life on land). The CES indicators also reflect global indicators for the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the SEEA-Central Framework (SEEA-CF) and Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EA).

UNECE also released guidelines on producing the suggested indicators in various national contexts and with different levels of data availability. [UNECE press release] [Publication: Set of Core Climate Change-related Indicators and Statistics] [Landing page] [Implementation Guidelines]