ALP Forum: Transparency Builds Trust, Promotes Effective Climate Action
The ALP Forum sessions on transparency focused on the enhanced transparency framework (ETF) and institutional arrangements. In the first session, the experts agreed that the ETF is the new extension of the existing MRV and that the ICA process (existing MRV arrangements) provides an essential learning opportunity for parties and stakeholders to better prepare for the ETF transition.
Opening the session, Mr. Jigme, Manager, MRV/ETF Support Subdivision, Transparency Division, UNFCCC, said that transparency was a core commitment embedded in the convention and the Paris Agreement and is viewed as a key mechanism for trust & confidence building amongst parties and a tool to promote effective implementation of climate action. He said that under the ETF, all countries would be operating under the same set of rules and guidelines, with flexibilities to certain group of countries. The ETF also provides support to developing countries to transition from the current MRV regime.
The challenges in this transition include weaker institutional arrangements, issues around unavailability of data, limited technical capacity to select and apply appropriate tools and methodologies, and limited domestic buy-in resulting in weaker policy buy-in and awareness of national stakeholders.
A recent survey by the UNFCCC of 22 countries found that 16% of the respondent countries indicated very limited knowledge of the ETF, 59% said that they were familiar with the theme but not enough to start planning and implementation, and 25% said they probably had enough knowledge. The fact that 75% of them are not confident indicates the potential challenges of ETF implementation.
Countries have only 3.5 years left to submit the 1st Biennial Transparency Report (BTR). Fortunately, most countries have some work ongoing in terms of National Communications and Biennial Update Reports (BURs), which will help them to understand the status and draw a plan that puts them in a position that will help BTR preparation in the future.
Dr. Bernd Hackmann, Programme Officer, Transparency Division, UNFCCC, said there was often a disconnect between what has been negotiated & agreed upon at international platforms and the knowledge available to implement these decisions at the country level.
The Katowice Conference of the Parties (COP) adopted MPG for implementation of ETF, which are very substantial set of guidelines for countries on what needs to be done, how ETF transition can happen, the principals to follow and how ETF should look like (adopted modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPGs), dates for BTRs and reviews, and support (financial and technical) to developing countries.
The ETF is facilitative, non-intrusive, non-punitive, respects national sovereignty, facilitates improved reporting/transparency over time, promotes Transparency, Accuracy, Completeness, Comparability, Consistency (TACCC) to build trust and generate data for guiding informed decisions, makes sure certain targets are reached, avoids double counting, and ensures environmental integrity. There are elements in ETF that allows parties to use certain flexibilities based on their national capacities. MPGs specify the flexibility available for specific provisions and countries can clearly indicate use of flexibility.
COP26/CMA3 is expected to deliver the last tally of the rules under the Paris Agreement that are relevant for the ETF, such as rules on Article 6, common time frames of NDCs, related to the CGE, and operational aspects of the Katowice MPGs on Article 13 on transparency. More than 1/3 of developing countries have submitted their BURs, which can serve as the basis for ETF transition.
Dr Hackmann’s key messages were: ETF constitutes an enhancement – same set of guidelines for all Parties, but is not completely new; it recognizes different starting points; there is flexibility for developing countries that need it; a robust institutional arrangement is one key factor of success; developing country parties continue to require support (technical and financial); 2024 is not far in the future: The best preparation for the future is taking action today.
Ms Fatima-Zahra Taibi, Senior Advisor, UNEP DTU Partnership, spoke about the Global Support Programme (GSP), jointly implemented by UN Environment and UNDP, to support developing countries on National Communications (NC), GHG inventories, Mitigation and V&A analysis, and BURs. The GSP provides technical support on demand basis and complements the work of other supporting organizations.
UNEP DTU recently conducted an analysis of all submitted NCs and BURs from countries in the region: assessed against the UNFCCC provisions and prepared 2 reports. The findings are as follows: Most countries in South East Asia (SEA) have submitted at least 1 NC while some have not submitted their BUR; most countries in South Asia have made their second NC submission; these submissions are the result of many years for work done under MRV framework under the convention; there is a big need for use of IPCCC 2006 guidelines in South Asia so that the countries can be compliant with ETF MPGs.
Common gaps in the content of the NCs & BURs are: unavailability of clear TORs of various committees, task groups, and/or expert/thematic working groups involved in the preparation of the NC and BUR; lack of details on the overall institutional arrangements for the implementation, monitoring of adaptation/mitigation priorities; unavailability of procedures for managing uncertainties in inventory data and GHG emission calculations; adaptation measures are not evaluated in terms of costs, practicability, environmental and cultural appropriateness; unavailability of costs associated with the GHG reductions /mitigation projects.
The challenges include: absence of sustainable institutional arrangements where roles, responsibilities and frequency of reporting for all involved in transparency are clearly defined and institutionalized; treatment of NC & BUR (and BTR by extension) preparation as a one-off project where the infrastructure put in place is lost when the project ends; most of the countries do not have dedicated teams (or very small) for transparency, officials find it difficult to allocate time with their core work; high turnover leading to loss of knowledge and capacity; unavailability of data; lack of awareness from the data providers side on how the data is used and the benefits from providing it; and lack of capacity in modeling and mitigation assessment.
Dr. Denis Desgain, Head, Mitigation Analysis and Data Management Section, UNEP DTU Partnership (UDP), made a presentation on The GACMO model (Greenhouse Gas Abatement Cost Model), an Excel-based modelling tool developed at UDP. It aims to provide countries, mainly developing countries, with a tool that allows them to carry out rapid but accurate evaluations of the greenhouse gas emissions impact of a variety of mitigation options.
GACMO is a “bottom-up” modelling tool. It means that the greenhouse gas emissions projections are based on mitigation options implemented on the ground (and not on macro data defined at national country level such as macro-economic data). GACMO is usually used to establish a baseline/reference scenario and a mitigation scenario based on a set of mitigation options chosen by a country. The emissions calculations carried out with GACMO are based on the methodologies and emission factors established by the IPCC, as well as the methodologies established in the framework of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).The main data required to use GACMO are of the sectoral energy consumption of fossil fuels and electricity. A user can choose from approx. 119 mitigation actions listed in the tool, organized into 24 categories of activities. Using these a user can develop mitigation scenario towards the years 2025, 2030 and / or 2050.
Dr. Henning Wuester, Director, Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT), said that they had developed, and collaborated with partners to roll out a set of practical methodologies and tools to provide effective support to its partner countries, and indirectly support non-partner countries, in their transparency efforts. ICAT’s Toolbox covers key aspects such as NDC tracking, assessment of sustainable development impacts and transformational change potential, and data management. Ten Policy Assessment Guides assess the impacts of climate policies and actions. These are a series of methodologies for assessing the GHG emissions, sustainable development and transformational impacts of policies and actions in an integrated and comprehensive manner across all levels of governance.
ICAT has developed tools to facilitate the application of guides: (1) CAAT: aggregation of action at the subnational level and by non-state actors; allows integrating of these actions; (2) SCREEN: developed for the economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic; assesses the short-term economic recovery potential of climate action in a developing country context; and (3) TRACE: Assesses co-benefits of emission reduction measures in the transport sector.
Dr. Mirella Salvatore, Natural Resources Officer (Climate Change), NDC Enhancement Support (NEST) Team, Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) spoke on the The Biennial Transparency Report Guidance and Roadmap Tool, which aims to guide developing countries in planning the preparation of their first BTR and participation in the Technical Expert Review (TER). It facilitates the long-term planning and the necessary institutional arrangements that countries should have in place to guarantee the sustainable implementation of this report; ensures a smooth transition from reporting of BUR to BTR; and guides the design and set-up of the transparency system underpinning the BTR process. The main elements of the tool are: (1) Stocktaking: helping countries to map out what the current in-country reporting arrangements are; (2) ETF Requirements Mapping: guiding countries to understand the new requirements and planning for the BTR implementation; and (3) Roadmap generation: providing a summary of the necessary steps leading up to the BTR with indicative required time period to complete the capacity development needed. The tool will be launched in mid-October 2021.
Mr Leandro Buendia, Consultant, ICF, spoke about the National GHG Inventory System, which is the way each country organizes and structures all the steps and elements needed to estimate, report, review, archive, and improve estimates of GHG emissions and removals.
The system’s templates show the steps to design and build a system for developing and advancing GHG inventories in a way that reflects the national circumstances. These templates are consistent with IPCC “good practices” and UNFCCC guidelines for national GHG inventory development, including the modalities, procedures, and guidelines for future reporting of national greenhouse gas inventories under the ETF. The templates provide a step-by-step approach to plan and facilitate the inventory development process and serve as a key tool in documenting the system for future inventory teams.
The Agriculture and Land Use Greenhouse Gas Inventory Software (ALU) was developed based on experiences in United States Environmental Protection Agency-led capacity building projects. ALU guides the compiler through the process of the inventory analysis for the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use Sector; provides data management capabilities and prevent obvious errors; provides utilities that encourage good practices; is based on the methods in the IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Guidelines; has internal checks to ensure data integrity.
Institutional Arrangements and Transparency
In the second session of the day, experts agreed that robust institutional arrangements is key to enable countries to providing reliable, comprehensive and regularly updated information that meets the enhanced reporting requirements and to ensure requisite improvements on a regular basis.
James Harries, Technical Consultant – Climate Action Planning and Transparency, Ricardo Energy & Environment, said that transparency systems consisted of legal, procedural and institutional arrangements. The latter considers relations between people and institutions to ensure the sustainable preparation of GHG inventory, BURs, NCs of appropriate quality. The key principles for institutional arrangements are that no one-size-fits-all and the best approach will vary between country to country, though there are some common elements such as that they should be long-term and sustainable. Transparency/MRV is not just about the systems, it’s about the people.
In a panel discussion, Anand Tsog, Senior Specialist in Climate Change Policy, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Mongolia, said that her country’s GHG Emission Inventory was being updated following the international accounting and reporting framework; the MRV and transparency system has been established; and that cross-sectoral approach was necessary to optimize the MRV system. “We are focusing on establishing a cross-sectoral committee of experts, climate change experts in each ministry, on improving the legal and policy environment in the long ter. The key focus is utilizing the existing system,” she said.
Ratnasari Wargahadibrata, Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia/ KLHK, Member of Compliance Committee under Kyoto Protocol Enforcement Branch, said that the establishment of institutional arrangement is important for coordination of MRV activities. “The commitment of local leaders is important for us. It is difficult to coordinate with them on climate issues,” she said.
Sandee Recabar, Chief, Implementation Oversight Division, Climate Change Commission-Climate Change Office, the Philippines, said that climate budget tagging was an important tool for the Government of the Philippines to accelerate climate-resilient development. All departments and agencies in the Philippines need to submit their projects to the Climate Change Commission for its review and approval. “Relationships matter for effective institutional arrangements and that Institutional Arrangements serve as a blueprint to implement transparency because it tells you who should do what and when,” she said.
Dr. Sugumari Shanmugam, Under Secretary Climate Change Division, Malaysia, identified the challenges in her country as institutional, human and financial capacity, adding that there was a need to establish a legal framework and for communication and coordination with the private sector and the public. She said that the single most effective thing to improve institutional arrangements was that there should be buy-in from all relevant stakeholders.