Introduction to Transparency

Transparency: how reporting and review underpin global climate action and support

The Paris Agreement empowers countries to act towards limiting global average temperature increases to as close to 1.5C as possible above pre-industrial levels, to strengthen climate resilience and to make financial flows consistent with these overall objectives.  

Regular reporting by countries of transparent information on the implementation and achievement of their national objectives, provides a snapshot of global progress in relation to the objectives of the Paris Agreement, helping to enable a global assessment of collective progress.  In turn, the reported information undergoes peer assessment, which helps to build mutual trust and confidence among countries, provide a better understanding of current climate actions and levels of support needed and provided.  Through this process countries gain the opportunity to learn from each other by sharing achievements, best practices, and experiences.  

Credit: UNFCCC

How is transparency enhanced under the Paris Agreement?

Starting no later than 2024, as part of the enhanced transparency framework (ETF), all countries who have ratified the Paris Agreement will follow a single, universal transparency process. The information gathered under the ETF will provide a clear understanding of climate change actions and support, and ultimately contribute to the global stocktake process that will periodically take stock of the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

By design, the ETF covers all aspects of the Paris Agreement, including tracking progress of implementation and achievement of nationally determined contributions under Article 4.

The requirements for reporting, technical expert review and facilitative multilateral consideration of progress, known as FMCP, are universally applicable, while recognizing the need for flexibility developing countries who need it in the light of their capacities.

The rules to operationalize the ETF, referred to as the modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPGs), were agreed by countries in Katowice, 2018. The remaining details to allow countries to fully implement the ETF, including the development of the common reporting tables and formats for reporting information, outlines of the reports, and the training programme for experts were finalized in Glasgow, 2021.

Credit: UNFCCC

From MRV to Transparency: How have the existing systems and approaches evolved?  

The new regime introduced by the ETF sets its foundations long before the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

The ultimate objective of the Convention, identified as stabilizing GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, posed to countries the challenge of gaining reliable, transparent and comprehensive information on their GHG emissions and removals, mitigation and adaptation actions and support.

Under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, systems and approaches were therefore developed for the periodic collection, reporting and review of countries’ relevant data and information. Over time, the original arrangements have evolved into a more comprehensive measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) framework. Under this framework, the reporting requirements and the timelines for the submission of national reports are different for  Annex I Parties and Parties not included in Annex I to the Convention (Non-Annex I Parties), in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Additional measures to significantly enhance transparency of action and support were adopted as part of the Bali Action Plan and further elaborated in decisions adopted at subsequent COP sessions. 

In over 25 years of active participation in the existing reporting and review system, countries fostered their knowledge on domestic GHG emissions and removals, as well as actions to address them, adaptation and means of implementation (finance, technology transfer and capacity-building). In turn, this provided them with key information to enhance domestic ambition and make informed decisions about their own national policy.

Overall, countries have gained significant experience on MRV activities, which the Paris Agreement has ultimately recognized as an important basis for the development and implementation of the ETF.


Financial, technical and capacity building support for developing countries

Credit: Photo by Lagos Techie on Unsplash

To promote effective participation by all Parties in the MRV arrangements under the Convention, and in the ETF under the Paris Agreement, financial, technical and capacity building support to developing countries is fundamental.

The Consultative Group of Experts (CGE) was established under the Convention and continues to operate under the Paris Agreement, with the primary mandate to provide technical assistance and advice to developing countries on the process and the preparation of climate change reports. In addition, a variety of other initiatives assist countries to participate in the current MRV system and prepare for the ETF. These include providing technical support to assist developing countries with the development of their national GHG inventories.


Training for technical experts

Qualified technical experts play an essential role in making the transparency arrangements of the climate change process work. These technical experts are nominated by countries and undergo training to carry out the task of reviewing and analyzing the national climate reports submitted by countries. The demand for qualified experts to review national GHG inventories, biennial reports, biennial update reports, and soon, biennial transparency reports, is growing.  Opportunities for training for transparency for review of developed country submissions and the technical analysis of developing country submissions are ongoing. Content for future training for review of submissions under the Paris Agreement is under development.


Reporting and data compilation, systems and tools

A variety of systems and tools are available to countries and technical experts to submit the national climate reports, support the technical expert review process, and to compile and analyze the reported data. These include the GHG data interface which makes climate information available providing access to the most recent data on GHG emissions and removals.

Following the agreement on the final common reporting tables and formats, in Glasgow, 2021, the preparation has begun, to develop the tools for submitting national reports under the ETF and to start work with countries to help them submit this information.  


Momentum towards Universal Participation in the ETF

The Momentum for Universal Participation in the ETF is an initiative to unite these and other global efforts towards a common goal: helping countries realize and obtain the benefits of transparency and to support countries with their preparation, for them to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.