Media headlines at the recent UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany were taken by highly politically-charged topics—the reception of the 1.5 C° IPCC report and the very slow progress on the Paris Agreement’s ‘markets’ negotiations. Yet away from the limelight, other delegates kept negotiating topics that may at first sight appear banal and overly technical, yet whose good resolution is absolutely essential to ensure the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement. One such crucial topic is operationalising the Agreement’s Transparency Framework, including developing the Common Reporting Tables (CRT) for Parties to report their greenhouse gas inventories, and Common Tabular Formats (CTF) to track progress toward implementing and achieving their NDCs.
To understand its importance, we could view the Transparency Framework negotiation process as a three-step collective construction of a house: (1) at COP21, Parties reached agreement on the fundamental structural elements (listed in Article 13 of the Agreement), (2) at COP24, they concurred on the specific construction materials to be used (the Katowice Rulebook’s Transparency Modalities, Procedures and Guidelines (MPGs)), and (3) in the run-up to COP26 they are now developing the specific blueprints to turn the structure into a reality (e.g. the CRT and CTF). Therefore, unsound CRT and CTFs could put at risk the structural integrity of the Transparency Framework’s operationalisation.