Since the inception of the international climate regime, the measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) of Parties’ progress has been one of its most important building blocks. For climate policy to be effectively designed and implemented, Parties need reliable information on emissions, actions and support on both the international and the national level. This is becoming ever more important since robust information will be needed for the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue and the global stocktakes from 2023 onwards.
The current MRV system
First the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (Art. 12) and later the Kyoto Protocol set up a system of National Communications (NCs) and national inventory reports, which are to be compiled by Parties and published by the UNFCCC. The full package of MRV rules and guidelines was defined in Cancun 2010, and elaborated in the years thereafter until Warsaw 2013. In Cancun 2010 all Parties agreed to submit NCs every four years, and in between every two years less comprehensive biennial reports (BRs) from Annex I countries and biennial update reports (BURs) from Non-Annex I countries. These reports provide clarity and transparency on the current level of global emissions and the ambition of efforts to combat climate change at the national and the international level.
More information on the current MRV framework: http://unfccc.int/focus/mitigation/items/7173.php
The enhanced transparency framework
In 2015 the Paris Agreement established an enhanced transparency framework (ETF) ‘in order to build mutual trust and confidence and to promote effective implementation’ (Art. 13). Many government representatives and climate experts consider the ETF to be the backbone of the Paris Agreement. In other words, they see it as the central mechanism to facilitate and catalyse the implementation of the nationally determined contributions (NDCs), to ramp up their ambition, and thus ultimately to achieve the Agreement’s goal to keep the increase in temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. While the current MRV system differentiates between Annex I and Non-Annex I countries, the Paris Agreement establishes a single framework applicable to all Parties with ‘built-in flexibility’. The framework provides flexibility to those Parties that need it in the light of their capacities and different national circumstances. Some other core characteristics are that the ETF encompasses transparency of action and support and builds on collective experience with the current system.
Under the ETF, countries will report on four elements:
- national greenhouse gas inventories;
- progress made in implementing NDCs under Article 4;
- climate change impacts and adaptation under Article 7 (as appropriate);
- financial, technology transfer and capacity-building support needed and received under Articles 2.1 c), 9, 10, 11 (with differentiation between developed and developing countries).
However, many details of what the implementation guidelines will look like are still unclear. Climate negotiators are currently working out the details of the modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPGs) of the ETF before the Conference of Parties (COP) in 2018. Here, a crucial question is how these MPGs reflect on the notion of flexibility based on Parties’ capacities. Also, it is still unclear how the transition between the current MRV framework and the new ETF will take place.
Find out more about the Paris Agreement here: http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php
On the national level countries already have experiences of varying degree with developing and implementing systems for MRV or monitoring and evaluation (M&E). This experience will be the foundation to build on when preparing to implement the new requirements under the ETF.
Several initiatives and organisations are providing support to developing countries for further development of their MRV/M&E systems, among them the Partnership on Transparency in the Paris Agreement and the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT). The Paris Agreement itself established a new global support programme, the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT), implemented by the Global Environment Facility. The goal of the CBIT is to strengthen the institutional and technical capacities of developing countries to meet the enhanced transparency requirements of the Paris Agreement.
More information on CBIT: https://www.thegef.org/topics/capacity-building-initiative-transparency-cbit
Focus of the Partnership
For many years, the Partnership on Transparency in the Paris Agreement has brought together transparency negotiators and practitioners for MRV and M&E in order to foster learning among leaders in transparency in parallel with UN climate negotiations and to build mutual trust among developing, emerging and industrialised countries.
The Partnership will continue to provide a forum for practical exchange and political dialogue between countries on enhanced climate transparency. It will actively support further developing the MPGs, reflecting on the interlinkages between transparency and raising ambition, and strengthening national capacities for implementing MRV and M&E systems. Therefore the Partnership serves as a forum for exchange between negotiators and implementers to enhance their capacities to implement a robust transparency system in their countries.
Learn more about the Partnership’s objectives here.