Paris Agreement Transparency Framework
Parties to the UNFCCC agreed to establish guidelines for countries
All Parties to the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have approved to design rules and procedures on how to fulfill each countries’ obligations under the Paris Agreement (2015). However, based on the experiences in the past couple of years since the agreement is put into force, it proves quite challenging as each country must learn and choose from highly technical options. Besides, each country is also aware of their respective political interests they are obliged to pursue.
What is transparency framework?
Transparency framework is one of the most crucial elements found in the Paris Agreement. It is important in the sense that it highlights or encourages countries to include concrete obligations in reviewing their mitigation activities. Dagnet, et al. (2017) mentioned that those obligations require countries to communicate successes, identify their needs, help provide support, and also provide information in areas where others need more effort to be successful.
Advancing Climate Transparency Research
There are efforts that provide research, analysis and various creative approach in trying to make the Paris Agreement more systematic and effective. One of such efforts in the World Resources Institute (WRI)’s project which can draw out creative individuals or people that will design a more effective global transparency system specifically supporting the Paris Agreement.
The project has produced two important complementary papers that deal with enhancing reporting and reviewing practices. The papers also scrutinize the present modalities, procedures, and guidelines to see whether new approaches are needed to provide for the COP23 in Bonn.
Existing System and the Paris Agreement
According to the research that WRI has undertaken, the current UNFCCC system seems to be working alright, but it needs to be enhanced – the one that is based on that current system. For example, the Paris Agreement should also request Parties to provide the “Annual national inventories” which is present in the existing UNFCCC System on reporting. Also, similar to the UNFCC System, the Paris Agreement should request for “Quadrennial technical review” and an “Annual review of national inventories” reviews.
As the existing UNFCCC system is not perfect (has inefficiencies, delays in reporting and lacking information), there is a need to create a new and more robust transparency framework. This new framework should take on the “expected increase in the number and frequency of reporting and reviews under the Paris Agreement.”
Enhanced Transparency Framework Functions
The enhanced transparency framework shall provide a more effective system to make the present transparency regime fulfill the following crucial functions:
- Provide national and international levels on climate change policymaking in curbing GHGs
- Provide information on the global stocktake – collective progress reports by countries
- Ensure that countries improve their data overtime and help better equipped those in need
- Mobilizing and capacity-building through knowledge-sharing and training
- Build trust and further cooperation among countries and stakeholders
Enhancing Transparency Framework to Support Paris Agreement
Aside from bolstering the ability to build institutional and human capacity, an enhanced transparency framework will also make financial resources be efficiently and sustainably used. The two papers (review and reporting) explore ways to enhance transparency processes at the following points:
- Reporting requirements should be designed, aligned and complementary to other communication and accounting processes under the UNFCCC
- Identified the minimum set of reporting requirements on tracking targets progress and identified how to promote best practices
- The robustness and depth reporting and review should be relevant in both the domestic and international context
- Guidelines for reporting and reviewing should be clear for consistency and comparability purposes, such as tracking financial flows.
- The kind of review process should employ standard criteria such as on the established previous reports
- Reporting and review at the right time are critical for transparency framework to be effective, such as keeping schedules, etc.
- Inclusiveness in reporting and review process is relevant to gather data from various stakeholders
The Paris Agreement aims at targeting all investments, including both public and private. This is quite a broad finance goal and to try to assess collective progress in implementing the terms of the agreement means a big undertaking.
In targeting mitigation and adaptation goals, it entails that Parties to the agreement will have to establish assessment methods and tools to see whether the climate finance flows are consistent with the initial goals. Due to the Agreement’s broad scope on finance, it is necessary to gather information on all types of financial resources.
One specific issue with finance flows is that there is no agreed terms or clear definitions for climate finance. As still debated by the Green Climate Fund’s Board members, there is no clear definition of climate finance and development. Linked with the definition of climate finance, systematic tools in accounting climate finance from donors to recipients are not yet readily available. Both these issues require collaboration among donors at various official/department levels and between donors and recipients for the sake of ease heavy undertaking and transparent to prevent misuse and abuse of finance.
“[C]ountries agreed to develop modalities for an accounting of financial resources provided and mobilized through public interventions.” It is the UN’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) that is tasked to “develop clear, consistent and workable modalities to allow an accurate aggregation of climate finance flows.” It is known that financial support for mitigation much higher than for adaptation which also requires transparent method in determining what constitutes useful (financial) support for adaptation.
How was Transparency Framework Addressed at COP23?
The COP23 that was held in Bonn concluded with a relevant document containing decisions and next steps during the in-between meetings up until the next COP24 in Warsaw, Poland in 2018. (Click the decisions document here.)
One of the key achievements relevant for transparency processes is the decision to establish a ‘rule book’ that will be finalized and decided to be implemented in the COP24. The rule book will contain specific guidelines on the implementation of the Paris Agreement (2015).
Talanoa Dialogue is a dialogue that is supposed to be “constructive, facilitative, and solutions-oriented”. Talanoa is a traditional method used by Fijians and the Pacific people when engaging in a participatory, open and inclusive communication. This is the sort of thinking that the Parties will be engaging with among each other.
COP21 (Para 20) decided that it ‘convenience a facilitative dialogue among Parties in 2018 to take stock of the collective efforts of Parties” on the progress achieved for the goals of the Agreement and make them useful to all Parties involved to mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change their respective countries.
The main features of Talanoa Dialogue will include two phases: Preparatory phase and Political phase. In both phases, the Parties will tackle three relevant questions:
- Where are we? (Introductory discussion)
- Where do we want to go? (introductory discussion)
- How do we get there? (Parallel roundtables)
The Preparatory Phase will begin in January 2018 and ends at COP24, while the Political Phase will take place at COP24 which will fundamentally focus on the objective of the dialogue. The outputs of the dialogue will be included as reports and summaries of the discussions. In those two phases, civil society organizations and other stakeholders will have opportunities to provide inputs into related items.
Please, read here for more details