Climate Change

22 Jul 2019

NDC: Making the Paris Agreement Transparency Framework Work

22 Jul 2019  by Alexandra Deprez   
For the system of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to be effective, every country’s reporting processes need to be appropriate to their economic level, honest and accurate. That means the Paris Agreement’s Transparency Framework, including the Common Reporting Tables (CRT) for greenhouse gas inventories, and Common Tabular Formats (CTF) to track progress on their NDCs, needs to be finalised and agreed upon, and fast, says the IDDRI’s Alexandra Deprez. To do this we need to get the amount of flexibility built in to the Framework right. Too little, and developing countries won’t get listened to. Too much, and the true picture will get lost. A failure in this vital reporting will make all the investment, constructions, innovation, heartache and global headache of the transition a mere gamble. Deprez explains the challenges now being faced as we prepare for COP25 at the end of this year.

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.

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