A key focal point of the Paris Agreement (PA) that came out of COP21 was the issue of transparency. While the Kyoto Protocol (KP) created the mechanisms for mitigation and eventually adaptation, it wasn’t until the Paris Agreement that accountability was implemented so that Parties would reach their proposed contributions. For the first few years of the UNFCCC, adaptation was not a major focus. Instead, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions retained the majority of the negotiator’s time. But now that adaptation has received it’s due from the Marrakesh Accords, Parties found it worthwhile in the Paris Agreement to emphasize transparency of adaptation communication. Article 7 of the PA focuses on adaptation and paragraph 10 and 12 of that article discuss the creation of a public registry to house adaptation communications. One might think the formation of a website would be of little concern to countries, but the implications of this website run through numerous items that countries find of value.
Article 4 of the Paris Agreement calls for the creation of a nationally determined commitments (NDCs) registry where countries can deposit iterations of their documents. This language closely follows the language in the Art. 7 public registry mandate and several countries have taken up the torch of proposing the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) combine the two registries. These countries claim that by combining the two registries they would be more economical and draw the distinction between mitigation. Within NDCs there is already a section labeled adaptation for most countries; this section states what countries intend to implement in to improve their resilience to climate change. These adaptation plans usually require some form of funding, which can be acquired through direct donations from countries and organizations or application through the Adaptation Fund or Green Climate Fund. Most developing countries want to draw that clear line between their adaptation and mitigation, especially because the focus in most developed countries is on mitigation.
The counterargument, though, is that adaptation communications deserve their own repository. NDCs compromise one complete document. There is currently an interim NDC registry to house the NDCs that have already been submitted by the 169 Parties that have ratified the Paris Agreement. This interim NDC registry is a placeholder for the permanent registry currently undergoing negotiations at COP23 under the SBI. This repository houses one document per country, and only one. Opponents to the one registry plan argue that adaptation communications involve numerous documents, would be updated frequently, and are of a more complex nature than an NDC. In sum, the website would lose transparency and undermine the mandate from the Paris Agreement. Concerns also arose from the unbalanced progression of the NDC registry in comparison as the facilitators of the discussion are already promulgating an informal note to sum the takeaways from negotiations. The Parties in the adaptation registry, on the other hand, refused to agree upon the promulgation of an informal note because of the complete lack of points of convergence. Developed countries and developing countries sticking to their sides with no intention of crossing the divide.
There was, however, a light at the end of the tunnel. In a session today, Canada proposed a series of compiled ideas from both sides that would lead to further discussion. While this didn’t lead to an informal note, it created a more facilitative discussion that laid more points of divergence on the table that countries could address. The hope is that these ideas will lead to one idea that reflects the numerous ideas of the Parties, drawing a clear link between mitigation and adaptation and fixing the broken communications.