Post-2012 International Climate Policy Briefs

Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. This series is part of ongoing work by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions to help clarify issues and options in the international climate change negotiations, and to identify practical and effective options for the post-2012 international climate framework.

 

Post-2012 policy brief series:

Common Metrics: Comparing Countries' Climate Pledges: To enable a better understanding of the mitigation pledges offered under the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancún Agreements, this analysis converts the 2020 pledges of the major economies into four common metrics: percent change in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990; percent change from 2005; percent change from “business as usual” and; percent change in emissions intensity from 2005.

Strengthening International Climate Finance: With climate finance needs in developing countries projected to grow significantly in coming decades, governments are considering steps under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to strengthen international climate finance. Key steps include: establishing a new multilateral climate fund with an independent board under the guidance of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP); a new UNFCCC finance body to advise the COP and promote coordination among funding institutions; a registry mechanism to link finance to mitigation actions; and stronger procedures for reporting and verifying flows.

Strengthening MRV: A central issue in negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is how best to provide for the measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) of parties’ mitigation actions and support. This brief describes and evaluates existing requirements under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, and outlines recommendations for building on these mechanisms to establish a more robust MRV system. This enhanced system should include significantly strengthening the existing system of reporting and expert review, and establishing a new mechanism for peer review of mitigation actions. Peer review and expert review would together constitute the international “consultations” and “analysis” envisioned in the Copenhagen Accord.

MRV: A Survey of Reporting and Review in Multilateral Regimes: This brief examines reporting and review practices in other major multilateral regimes, and drawing on these examples, outlines the essential elements of an enhanced system of MRV under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). To move the climate MRV system closer to the norms set by other multilateral regimes, the next stage in its evolution should entail significantly strengthening the existing system of reporting and expert review, and establishing an additional layer of peer review.

Verifying Mitigation Efforts in a New Climate Agreement: A new global climate agreement will be most effective if parties are confident that it enables them to assess how well others are fulfilling their obligations. This can be achieved through a rigorous system of measurement, reporting, and verification. Key elements should include: annual emission inventories for all major greenhouse gas-emitting countries; national verification of mitigation commitments and actions in accordance with international guidelines; regular reports from parties detailing their implementation and verification of their commitments and actions; and expert review of parties’ inventories and implementation reports. Beyond verification, a new agreement should provide for a clear determination of whether a party is in compliance with its commitments. The compliance approach should be largely facilitative, rather than punitive, geared toward helping to identify and overcome obstacles to implementation.

Comparability of Developed Country Mitigation Efforts: The “comparability” of climate mitigation efforts undertaken by developed countries can be assessed in many different ways. Some relevant factors, such as emissions, population, and GDP, are readily quantified and compared; others, such as a country’s geography, economic structure, or trade profile, are not. Given the multiplicity of factors at play, parties are unlikely to agree on an explicit formula to determine, or to assess the comparability of, their respective efforts. Rather, efforts are likely to be agreed through political bargaining in which countries emphasize the metrics and national circumstances that most favor their positions. The outcome will likely rest on parties’ mutual assessments of one another’s efforts, employing the criteria they deem most relevant.
 

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Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Greenhouse gas emissions have the same impact on the atmosphere whether they originate in Washington, London or Beijing. Consequently, action by one country to reduce emissions will do little to slow global warming unless other countries act as well. Ultimately, an effective strategy will require commitments and action by all the major emitting countries.