Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV)


Ever 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 change mitigation to be effective and a reliable planning tool, Parties need reliable information on emissions and actions, from both at home and abroad.

Already the UNFCCC (Art. 12) and later the Kyoto Protocol set up a system of Nat Coms and national inventory reports which are to be compiled by Parties and published by the UNFCCC. .  However, it was not until the Bali Action Plan that the term MRV was coined (Para. 1 b), bringing together all aspects pertaining to transparency in the climate regime. The full package of needed 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 Nat Coms every four years and in between every two years less comprehensive biennial reports (BRs) from AI 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.   

MRV is a term used to describe all measures which states take to collect data on emissions, mitigation actions and support, to compile this information in reports and inventories, and to subject these to some form of international review or analysis. Despite its seemingly technical nature, MRV is yet one of the most important and contentious issues in any international arrangement on climate change. Consistently keeping track of Parties’ emissions and actions is key to build transparency and confidence in the international climate regime. Furthermore, many instruments to combat climate change only function when reliable data is available, such as the Kyoto Protocol’s Flexible Mechanisms. MRV can also help to better match financial and technical support by developed countries to the needs of their less developed counterparts, and to keep track of such support. And last but not least MRV is a prerequisite for determining progress towards the implementation of the UNFCCC.

The IPCC has developed guidelines for measuring emissions which can be used by Parties to report their emissions against their emission reduction targets. For countries without such targets, there are also approaches how to quantify emission reductions which can complement and should link into reporting of emissions.

In order to help countries to improve their MRV systems over time, an IAR mechanism for AI countries and an ICA process for NAI countries have been agreed upon. ICA’s purpose is to identify capacity building needs through a Team of Technical Experts (TTE) analyzing the BURs of a country. The composition of the TTE reflects a geographical balance among the experts from AI and NAI countries, and each TTE will be co-led by one AI expert and one NAI expert, neither of them can be overruled. The TTE shall be composed of experts nominated to the UNFCCC roster of experts, taking into consideration the expertise needed to cover the areas of information contained in the BUR, and who have completed the CGE training programme. On each TTE at least one member of the CGE shall serve.

The UNFCCC MRV system is supposed to create transparency and enhance confidence among Parties. MRV will demonstrate that Parties contribute tangible actions to reduce emissions and that developed countries provide substantial support to developing countries. In order to make the global climate regime effective, MRV must ensure transparency and all Parties are invited to develop intended nationally determined contributions and submit them in the first quarter of 2015. To this end, the necessary upfront information to be provided will facilitate the clarity, transparency and understanding of the intended contributions. In order to be able to track progress toward the global objective of limiting global warming to below 2°C, MRV should also provide a framework to quantify emissions reductions of individual contributions, attribute them consistently to individual Parties , avoiding double counting, and add up the emissions reductions toward closing the ambition gap. Accounting means to put an emissions reduction number on an action, thereby being able to add up numbers from different actions and countries, and, hence, to understand if actions are sufficient or if collaboration must be enhanced to close the emission gap. Such a so-called MRV and Accounting framework will finally help to quantitatively coordinate individual countries’ national activities for the global objective of limiting global warming to below 2°C and potentially to allocate scarce resources efficiently.

The elements of the future MRV architecture in the context of the 2015 agreement are to be defined in the upcoming negotiations. Parties need a forum where they can discuss different domestic approaches and learn from each other on challenges, opportunities, strengths and good practices. By providing such a forum, the International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV aims to contribute through capacity building and peer-to-peer exchange on MRV specific issues like institutional arrangements, legal frameworks, data collection, reporting and accounting procedures, development of contributions, upfront information on contributions, etc. .


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