WHAT DO WE MEAN WHEN WE TALK ABOUT TRANSPARENCY?
Transparency within the UNFCCC refers to the measurement and reporting obligations of Parties. The initial measurement and reporting mechanism was set out in Article 12 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and requires Parties to report information relevant for the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, to achieve:
“stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would
prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” (UNFCCC, 1992).
Parties shall communicate an inventory of GHG emissions, progress on climate action and
WHAT DO WE MEAN WHEN WE TALK ABOUT TRANSPARENCY?
The enhanced transparency framework for action and support was established in 2015 with the adoption of the Paris Agreement and is outlined in Article 13. Its ultimate goal is enabling the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement by providing a clear overview of progress on climate action and support provided and by building mutual trust. Parties are required to disclose data and information on:
Their GHG emissions
The progress of their nationally determined contributions (NDCs)
Their national mitigation and adaptation plans
Other means of implementation in areas such as capacity-building and finance
The framework is aimed at identifying needs, helping channel support as well as informing the global stocktake and revealing where further effort is needed. It is thus vital for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The review process under the transparency framework lends credibility to Parties’ actions and is an important tool to help make better evidence-based decisions for more robust climate action.
Key elements of the enhanced transparency framework for action and support are:
Source: UNFCCC, 2020
In 2018 in Katowice, the common modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPGs) for the transparency framework for action and support were finalised (Decision 18/CMA.1). The MPGs require all Parties to:
submit a national inventory report of anthropogenic emissions
submit information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under Article 4 of the Paris Agreement
submit information related to climate change impacts and adaptation under Article 7 of the Paris Agreement
This information must be included in a biennial transparency report (BTR), which will have to be submitted for the first time by the end of 2024. Flexibility is granted for developing countries in light of varying circumstances and capabilities.
submit information on financial, technology development and transfer and capacity-building support provided and mobilized under Articles 9–11 of the Paris Agreement
take part in the technical expert review
take part in the facilitative, multilateral consideration of progress
It is important to note that the operationalization of paragraph 77d of 18/CMA.1 is highly political because it deals with how to report on the Paris Agreement’s Article 6 emission credits.
Parties also agreed on common metrics of the 100-year time horizon global warming potential values as introduced in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report to account for GHG emissions and removals (decision 18/CMA.1, annex, paragraph 37).
At COP 25, negotiations on transparency mostly focused on technical aspects such as the format of the common reporting tables (CRT) for inventories, common tabular formats (CTF) for tracking progress toward the achievement of the NDC as well as the support provided and received. These are to be finalized by COP 26, when Parties are looking to close the discussions on:
the structure of the biennial transparency report, the technical expert review report and national inventory
the development of training programmes for technical experts.
WHAT ARE THE STAKES
The enhanced transparency framework is politically charged because:
Constitutes an important wheel in the ambition cycle of the Paris Agreement, informs Global Stocktake and builds trust that Parties are taking action based on NDCs and in line with Paris Agreement, it allows building up pressure on climate action laggards
It is a key site for matters of differentiation between Parties’ responsibilities: Reporting and transparency standards need to strike a balance between allowing for flexibility for developing countries with different circumstances and capabilities and yet allowing comparisons and ensuring accountability
The enhanced transparency framework links with various other negotiation topics at the UNFCCC, particularly Climate Finance and the new market mechanism established under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement
TO GO FURTHER
UNFCCC (2020). What is transparency and reporting? (online) Available at: https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/transparency-and-reporting/the-big-picture/what-is-transparency-and-reporting
Paris Agreement (Dec. 13, 2015), in UNFCCC, COP Report No. 21, Addendum, at 21, U.N. Doc. FCCC/CP/2015/10/Add, 1 (Jan. 29, 2016) [hereinafter Paris Agreement].
UNFCCC (1992). UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE.