Summer School on 'Tracking Progress and MRV for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions', Viet Nam, August 2013

summer school

The second Summer School under the auspices of the International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV took place in Hanoi, Viet Nam from 20-28 August 2013.  Under the banner “Tracking Progress and MRV for GHG emission reductions” a group of policy makers, practitioners and negotiators representing 19 developing and developed countries from all world regions discussed  how to accelerate progress towards meeting the global 2°C objective. The participants, most of whom work in the climate change unit of either the respective environment ministry or other government bodies, sought to tackle the technical challenge of investigating the elements necessary in defining a national pledge and tracking progress towards  different kinds of pledges.

In the same manner as in last year‘s Autumn School (see links), the participants engaged in lively discussions, exchanged experiences with their peers and shared lessons learnt. Over the eight days of the workshop they were also able to draw on the expertise of international experts present at the Summer School from the World Resources Institute (WRI), Ricardo-AEA, Ecofys, Perspectives, South Pole, CAOS, Global Climate Change Consultancy (GTripleC), The Energy and Resources Institute India (TERI), and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

“One can learn a lot by putting people together.”  Stephen King’uyu, Kenya

During the first days of the Summer School participants exchanged views on the value of emission inventories for national purposes. They discussed how countries can go from infrequent to continuous compilation of inventories. It was noted that inventories are a necessary starting point and that sufficient institutional capacity is needed to enable continuous data collection. Participants also explored different methodologies that can be used to develop emission scenarios and baselines, focusing specifically on their advantages and disadvantages as well as the challenges of predicting future developments and how to quantify these. The participants then had the opportunity to practice the definition of different types of pledges based on emission scenarios. This demonstrated that pledges can be realistic and feasible as well as ambitious when they evolve in a ratcheting-up  process of taking action and raising new pledges according to, as one participant framed it on the basis of their national experience, “how much more pain one can take”. Participants underlined that assumptions were important and that it was useful not to rely exclusively on external expertise but to build their own capacities. Finally, it was noted that baseline setting was ultimately a political decision.

The prioritization and selection of NAMAs was yet another essential element that was discussed during the course of the Summer School. Participants noted that political will was the most crucial and that stakeholder involvement was also key. Furthermore it emerged from discussion that transparency and clear agreements on the process as well as a strong government organization to coordinate NAMA development at national level was needed. A variety of criteria for selecting NAMA ideas for implementation were highlighted. In particular it was pointed out that co-benefits played a crucial role for countries whereas the GHG mitigation effect was more important for donors.

NAMA implementation in Viet Nam, NAMA finance and MRV of NAMAs

Viet Nam as host of the Summer School presented their national climate change policy and their NAMAs which are currently under development in several sectors, inter alia the cement sector. Participants had the opportunity to engage in discussions with staff from the Ministry of Construction as well as the Ministry for the Environment on the respective NAMA ideas.

This was also the starting point for a debate on NAMA finance. Participants agreed that after the initial support for NAMA development the actual implementation of NAMAs was the main issue at stake now. These resources are likely to come from a range of sources, including the provision of international public support according to needs, and applying a range of financing instruments since public money will often not be enough to cover full costs. Instead, public finance (domestic and international) could be used to leverage other sources of finance. This can be done by reducing the risk of investment for private stakeholders. At the same time, innovative domestic finance options, like carbon taxes, may be explored and may support the financing of NAMAs. Participants also discussed the possible role that carbon market mechanisms could play in NAMA finance and under which conditions. In this context participants noted that under the current price levels this role was limited. Finally, it was pointed out that over time the provision of support for developing countries would decrease according to decreasing needs and the in parallel increasing domestic financial and technical capacities.

The discussion on MRV of NAMAs amongst participants showed that there was still a variety of opinions. The fear that MRV guidelines for domestic NAMAs might become de-facto prescriptive remained a dominant theme.  Several examples were developed and discussed, inter alia GHG protocol standards from WRI. Completeness, comparability, transparency, consistency and accuracy were mentioned as being important principles for MRV of NAMAs.

Tracking progress and double counting

Participants also explored issues regarding pledge setting, including their comparability. It was clarified that the benefit of comparability lies in the usefulness of adding up numbers, and less in the comparison of different actions in different countries. The discussion explored what scope a pledge could have (base year vs. baseline, absolute vs. intensity, single vs. multiple target year) and how double counting might be avoided. Regarding the tracking of progress, it was pointed out that even reviewers do not yet have a feeling of what constituted a good balance between accuracy and related cost. Participants likewise discussed the challenges involved in comparing efforts and in tracking progress when different countries have different types of pledges. Some participants highlighted that a comparability of pledges seemed to require a reduction in number of different types of pledges. If pledges were easily comparable it would be much easier to track progress globally.

Participants also discussed and analyzed several potential solutions which might prevent double counting of mitigation action. These included, inter alia, voluntary reporting of net unit flows by developing countries and non-UNFCCC mechanisms in BURs/BRs. Finding ways to avoid double counting was recognized as a challenge but nonetheless a crucial one, that  should generally be differentiated from systems for tracking progress toward the global 2°C objective.

Last but not least it was pointed out that a ratcheting up of pledges was urgently needed to meet the 2°C objective even if the increase in ambition would be a long and difficult process that required serious political will and (financial) incentives.

Overall the Summer School provided a platform for communication and mutual learning between negotiators, implementers and policy makers and consequently created an informal network. This opportunity was highly appreciated by all participants. It was pointed out repeatedly that a mutual understanding was crucial for the success of international negotiations and for the increasing spread of (national) mitigation actions globally.

The presentations of this year's Summer School can be found here:

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Day 8: