Points of Divergence: Linkages and Differentiating Obligations under the Transparency Framework

The Transparency Framework under Article 13 of the Paris Agreement covers all components. At least, that is what the Agreement seems to say at first blush. However, as Parties begin to flesh out specific procedures, it is obvious that they disagree with the extent of the Transparency Framework’s coverage.

The Philippines, speaking for the G77 and China negotiating group, emphasized the importance of linking the procedures of the Framework with the provisions on financing. The Philippines went so far as to suggest that such a linkage should receive its own section. Article 9 of the Paris Agreement specifies the reporting requirements for developed country parties, which includes providing qualitative and quantitative information on financial resources to assist developing country Parties in their mitigation and adaptation efforts. The Philippines urged the Parties to consider incorporating the developed country Parties’ obligation under Article 9.1 into the procedures of the Framework.

Credit to the World Resources Institute

Credit to the World Resources Institute

Not surprisingly, the European Union opposed conflating the developed country Parties’ obligations under different articles, stating that Parties come into dangerous fields when they do so. In the European Union’s perspective, the language in Article 9 that refers to biennial reporting obligations is referenced only in party submissions. At most, the procedures in the Transparency Framework can include the Article 9 provisions as an inherent part of the information to be reported under Article 13.9. It does not warrant its own section with subsequent provisions.

Another point of contention is the difference between the reporting requirements for developed country Parties that are mandated to provide support to developing country Parties and the reporting obligations of developing country parties that choose to provide such support. Article 13.9 of the Paris Agreement obligates developed country Parties to provide information on financial, technology transfer, and capacity-building support they provide. It does not impose the same obligation on developing country Parties. Parties do not dispute this. However, they disagree on whether developing country Parties that choose to provide support to fellow developing country Parties should report the same types and quantity of information as their developed country counterparts.

Unlike the issue of linkages mentioned above, developing country Parties negotiating this issue do not all believe that they should be subject to different reporting requirements for the support they provide. Brazil, in particular, stated that developed and developing country Parties should be subject to the same reporting obligations. However, developing country Parties should be afforded some amount of flexibility. Though the Parties are far from agreeing to this proposal, this seems to be a reasonable way of interpreting the text of Article 13.9, especially given Article 13’s emphasis on flexibility.

Further from this proposal is the view of some developed country Parties that the developed and developing country Parties should be subject to the same reporting requirements without any reference to flexibility or common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities (CBDR-RC). Developing country Parties are under no obligation to provide support to others. Their decision to extend support is purely discretionary. Such discretion removes special considerations. While this interpretation is logically sound, it moves further away from the language of the Agreement and is unlikely to meet any significant support.

Overall, progress in establishing the procedures for the Article 13 Transparency Framework has been moving at a glacial pace. Yet, move it has. After much grandstanding in the last few days, it would seem that Parties have calmed enough to openly express agreement on some simple areas. Momentum and urgency will continuously build as Parties approach the end of this negotiating session.