The question presented is which approach is the better for realizing the transparency framework of the Paris Agreement. Articles 13, 14 and 15 prescribe the transparency framework of the Paris Agreement. This blog post will focus on Article 13. Article 13 compiles reports of actions taken under other Articles and aims to provide clarity in steps taken to achieve a Party’s NDC under Article 4 and a Party’s adaptation actions under Article 7. Article 13 identifies two separate frameworks for ensuring transparency: a framework for the transparency of actions taken under Articles 4 and 7, and a framework for transparency in providing and receiving support for climate change actions under Article 4, 7, 9, 10, and 11. The APA was tasked with developing the “modalities, guidelines, and procedures” (MGPs) of the transparency framework in the COP 21 decision. Overall, the transparency framework works as an accountability instrument for parties that have ratified the Paris Agreement.
There are many approaches to realizing the transparency framework. This post will focus on two of those approaches. The first approach is the general party approach to focus on the objective of the transparency framework and build from that focus. A discussion paper published by the Institute for Global and Environmental Strategies (IGES) proposes a second approach. This discussion paper proposes four objectives for broadening the goal of the Transparency Framework to include other climate change goals. “The 4 objectives are: (1) achieve comparability to strengthen transparency, (2) build the capacity of government officials through their use of the means to enhance their self-understanding, (3) trigger domestic actions to introduce a PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act)-cycle with GHG MRV to improve performance, and (4) share lessons learned among the Parties. ”
The party approach tries to increase transparency through working with the original objectives articulated in the Paris Agreement. Those initial goals focus on just reporting for the actions taken under articles 4 and 7 and support given and received for articles 4,7,10,11. In the current COP negotiations, parties are trying to clarify the details of the MGPs of the transparency framework. Therefore, the current approach to the transparency framework only focuses on the reporting guidelines and a consistent picture of how parties are achieving their climate change goals.
The broadened approach tries to integrate other elements into the transparency framework, such as mitigation and capacity building. The expanded approach does this by focusing on “self-analysis.” These self-analyses are where parties try to understand their progress and failures when trying to implement their NDCs domestically. The self-analysis is intended to be the evaluation of whether parties realize their goals in the other sectors. Under this new approach of emphasizing self-evaluation, the transparency framework would take a more instrumental approach in achieving all the targets in the Paris Agreement.
The answer to the initial question of which approach is the better for realizing the transparency framework of the Paris Agreement is variable. I think finalizing the MPG will best answer this question, when there is further clarity on what/ how much is to be reported under the Transparency Framework. Further, I believe the second (broadened) approach is ahead of its time.