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Existing Requirements for Reporting and Review for Annex I Parties under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol

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Overview of existing reporting and review requirements for Annex I Parties under the Convention

Reporting and review requirements under the Convention encompass the following elements:
  • National communications  which contain information on national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, climate-related policies and measures, GHG projections, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, financial assistance and technology transfer to non-Annex I Parties, and actions on raising public awareness on climate change;
  • National GHG inventories which contain information on GHG emissions, such as activity data, emission factors and methodologies used to estimate these emissions.

National communications are submitted by Annex I Parties every 4–5 years following decisions for each submission by the Conference of the Parties (COP).  They are prepared and reported periodically by Annex I Parties based on agreed reporting guidelines (decision 4/CP.5).  They are reviewed, within 1–2 years from the submission date, by international expert review teams (ERTs) following specific mandates included in COP decisions, including the general procedures for review that are enshrined in decision 2/CP.1.  Also, the UNFCCC secretariat prepares the so-called “compilation and synthesis reports” on Annex I NCs, which are considered by the SBs and COP, as a basis for a substantive discussion on the implementation of the Convention by Annex I Parties.

Reporting and review of national GHG inventories of Annex I Parties are based on reporting and review guidelines (decisions 18/CP.8, 19/CP.8 and 14/CP.11).  National GHG inventories are reported annually by Annex I Parties following reporting guidelines agreed by the COP and methodology developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  They are reviewed annually by ERTs following agreed review guidelines.  Reporting comprises a National Inventory Report (NIR) and Common Reporting Format (CRF) tables.  The NIR includes qualitative and qualitative information, such as a description of methodologies used, emission factors, activity data and emission trends and analysis thereof, uncertainties, quality assurance and quality control.  The CRF tables include data and results from inventory estimates.

Reviews are co-ordinated by the secretariat and conducted by international ERTs.  In-depth reviews of the national communications as a rule are conducted through in-country visits.  Reviews of GHG inventories are conducted through centralized reviews and in-country reviews.  In accordance with the review guidelines, at least once in five years, the review of a Party’s GHG inventory should be conducted through an in-country review.  The review guidelines also envisage an option of a desk review, but this option has rarely been used.  The purpose of the review by ERTs is to provide a thorough and comprehensive technical assessment of the implementation of the Convention by Annex I Parties, and to ensure that the COP has sufficient information to carry out its responsibilities to review the implementation of the Convention.  The outcome from review is reflected in review report, which is prepared under the collective responsibility of the ERT.  The draft report is provided to Party for review and comments before its publication and placing on the UNFCCC web-page.

To ensure that the review process is comprehensive and rigorous, the secretariat has prepared training courses for review of GHG inventories.  It organizes training of experts that conclude with a training seminar and examination.  Only experts who successfully pass the examination can participate in the reviews.  There are no special arrangements for training of experts for national communication reviews.

Overview of existing reporting and review requirements for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol


Reporting for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol

As in the case of the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol imposes two regular, ongoing reporting requirements for Annex I Parties:  an annual report and a periodic national communication.  In both cases, Parties should submit the information elements as required by the Convention and include additional information related to the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.

For the annual report, each Annex I Party is required to submit an national GHG inventory, as required by the Convention, plus supplementary information on its implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.  This supplementary information covers:

  • The Party’s holdings of and transactions of Kyoto Protocol units;
  • Emissions and removals from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities under Article 3, paragraphs 3 and 4, and calculations of the amount to be added or subtracted from the assigned amount;
  • Changes in the Party’s national system;
  • Changes in the Party’s national registry;
  • Information on the Party’s implementation of its commitment to strive to minimize adverse social, environmental and economic impacts of its climate change mitigation actions on developing country Parties.


Each Annex I Party must also provide the following supplementary information on its implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in its periodic national communications:

  • A description of the national system;
  • A description of the national registry;
  • An explanation of how the Party’s use of the Kyoto mechanisms is supplementary to domestic action;
  • Information on the Party’s implementation of policies and measures under Article 2;
  • A description of the Party’s legislative, enforcement and administrative arrangements;
  • Technology transfer, capacity-building and other Article 10 activities; 
  • Financial assistance to non-Annex I Parties.


In addition to the annual report and national communication, Annex I Parties had to submit two additional one-time reports, namely the demonstrable progress report in the context of Article 3, paragraph 2, and the initial report. A separate report covering the true-up period should be submitted for that period.  Figure 1 illustrates the four types of report that are required from Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol.

Initial reports had to be submitted by Annex I Parties by 31 December 2006 or one year after the entry into force of the Protocol for the Party, and contained the following information:

  • A complete GHG inventory time-series (from 1990 to the latest reported year, usually 2004);
  • The Party’s calculation of its assigned amount;
  • The Party’s calculation of its commitment period reserve (CPR);
  • A description of the national registry;
  • A description of the Party’s national system;
  • Parameters related to the accounting of LULUCF activities under Article 3, paragraphs 3 and 4.

The true-up period report, due at the end of the commitment period, is intended to enable the determination of the Party’s compliance with its Article 3, paragraph 1, commitment.  This report must contain final information on the Party’s holdings of and transactions of Kyoto Protocol units, including all units retired for compliance purposes.

Figure 1.  Kyoto Protocol reports

figure 1


Review for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol

Each report submitted by an Annex I Party is subject to review by international ERTs. Similarly to the review under the Convention, the purpose of the review under the Kyoto Protocol is to provide a thorough technical assessment of the Party’s implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. and to ensure that the CMP has sufficient information to carry out its responsibilities to review the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. The outcome from review is reflected in review report, which is prepared under the collective responsibility of the ERT. The draft report is provided to Party for review and comments before its publication and placing on the UNFCCC web-page.

However, the review process under the Kyoto Protocol is much more rigorous than the review under the Convention. In particular, if the ERT identifies a problem with a Party’s implementation of a particular commitment that is not resolved by the Party during the review, the ERT has the authority to list the problem as a ‘question of implementation’ in its final review report. An ERT can raise questions of implementation only when there is an unresolved problem regarding implementation by a Party of a mandatory commitment. All review reports, including those that do not list any questions of implementation, are forwarded to the Compliance Committee for its consideration.

In contrast to the Convention, the ERTs have specific responsibilities with respect to the accounting of emissions and assigned amounts. If an ERT is of the opinion that a Party’s inventory is incomplete, or has been prepared in a manner which is not consistent with the IPCC methodologies, IPCC Good Practice Guidance for LULUCF, and the IPCC Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, it may recommend the application of an ‘adjustment’.

During the annual review and in the true-up period, ERTs should assess reported information on holdings of Kyoto Protocol units and on their transactions, and compare this information with that maintained by the International Transaction Log (ITL). ERTs should also review any information on problems identified by the ITL. If an ERT identifies a problem with a particular transaction, it may recommend a ‘correction’ to the Kyoto units. A correction is analogous to an inventory adjustment. However, whereas adjustments are applied to inventory estimates, corrections are applied to a Party’s holdings of Kyoto Protocol units.

To ensure that the review process is comprehensive and rigorous, similarly to the approach taken under the Convention, the secretariat has prepared training courses for review under the Kyoto Protocol. In addition to the training under the Convention GHG inventories, these courses include training on the national system, national registry, accounting for the assigned amount and review of information reported under Article 3, paragraphs 3 and 4. It organizes training of experts that is performed through on-line courses for those experts that have already taken the Convention courses and successfully passed the examinations. Only experts who successfully pass the examination can participate in the annual reviews.

Reporting and review for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol and linkages to compliance

The fundamental difference between the reporting and review system under the Convention and under the Kyoto Protocol is that the latter is linked to compliance. Given the binding nature of emission targets, e.g. QELROs, any problem relating to these targets, identified through the reporting and review system, should be considered by the Enforcement Branch of the Compliance Committee. In addition, the Enforcement Branch considers any issues related to eligibility to participate in the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms. Any unresolved question of implementation that affects the eligibility requirements, for example a question related to the national system and national registry, can lead to the suspension of eligibility until this question has been resolved.

Any consideration and decision by the Enforcement Branch of the Compliance Committee is reported to the CMP.

Figure 2 summarizes the main reporting and review requirements under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. For the Kyoto Protocol it shows the linkages between the reporting and review system and compliance.

Existing reporting and review methodologies, guidelines and requirements

A large number of guidelines underpin the operationalization of the reporting and review requirements under the current climate change regime, which are primarily applicable to Annex I Parties. The reporting and review guidelines are prepared by the subsidiary bodies to the Convention and adopted by COP or CMP through decisions. For GHG emission inventories the guidelines usually include reference to the guidelines prepared by the IPCC as a methodological basis for GHG inventory preparation.

Most of these guidelines are technical in nature, extensive in scope and complex in content, which reflects the complexity of the relevant issues and processes, such as the preparation of national GHG inventories or reporting on national policies and measures, and financial assistance. The existing guidelines and the related key methodological documents are listed below.

For national GHG inventories, the key documents are:

  • Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories;
  • IPCC Good Practice Guidance and Uncertainty Management in National Greenhouse Gas Inventories;
  • IPCC Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry;
  • Guidelines for the preparation of national communications by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, Part I: UNFCCC reporting guidelines on annual inventories;
  • Guidelines for the technical review of greenhouse gas inventories from Parties included in Annex I to the Convention.

For national communications, the key documents are:

  • Guidelines for the preparation of national communications by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, Part II: UNFCCC reporting guidelines on national communications;

The elements of additional reporting that is required from Kyoto Protocol Annex I Parties, including accounting information, are defined through the following documents and decisions:1

  • Modalities for the accounting of assigned amounts under Article 7, paragraph 4 of the Kyoto Protocol (decision pdf-icon 13/CMP.1)
  • Standard electronic format for reporting Kyoto Protocol units (decision pdf-icon 14/CMP.1)
  • Guidelines for the preparation of the information required under Article 7 of the Kyoto Protocol (decision pdf-icon 15/CMP.1)
  • Land use, land-use change and forestry (decision pdf-icon 16/CMP.1)
  • Guidelines for national systems under Article 5, paragraph 1, of the Kyoto Protocol (decision pdf-icon 19/CMP.1)
  • Good practice guidance and adjustments under Article 5, paragraph 2, of the Kyoto Protocol (decision pdf-icon 20/CMP.1)
  • Issues relating to adjustments under Article 5, paragraph 2, of the Kyoto Protocol pdf-icon 21/CMP.1
  • Guidelines for review under Article 8 of the Kyoto Protocol (decision pdf-icon 22/CMP.1)
  • Terms of service for lead reviewers (decision pdf-icon 23/CMP.1).

Figure 2 Summary of the main reporting and review requirements under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol

figure 1

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1  See also the Kyoto Protocol Reference Manual which presents in detail the accounting rules under the Kyoto Protocol, available here.

 
Decisions in Cancun, Durban and Doha that shaped the MRV process under the Convention for developed country Parties
 

The Conference of Parties, by decision 1/CP.16, decided that developed country Parties should enhance reporting in national communications (NC) and submit biennial reports (BR) which outline progress in achieving emission reductions and the provision of financial, technology and capacity-building support to non-Annex I Parties, building on existing reporting and review guidelines, processes and experiences.  It also established a new process, international assessment and review (IAR), under the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) for developed country Parties that aims to promote the comparability of efforts among all developed country Parties with regard to their quantified economy-wide emission limitation and reduction targets.

The detailed guidelines for the preparation of BRs contained in annex I to decision 2/CP.17 as well as modalities and guidelines for IARs contained in annex II to decision 2/CP.17 were adopted by COP 17 in Durban.  The COP also decided, among other things, that:

  • Developed country Parties shall submit the first BR by 1 January 2014, and the second and subsequent BR two years after the due date of a full NC (i.e. 2016, 2020);
  • In the years when the full NCs are submitted, BRs can be presented either as an annex to the NC or as a separate report
  • The first rounds of IARs should commence two months after the submission of the first round of BRs by developed country Parties;
  • The modalities and procedures of the IAR will be revised on the basis of the experience gained in the first round of IAR, no later than 2016, and that any revisions of the modalities and procedures of the IAR should take into account any future agreement on a compliance regime for mitigation targets under the Convention.

 According to the adopted modalities and guidelines, the IAR of BRs from developed country Parties will be conducted under the SBI in two steps:

  1.  A technical review of BRs, where relevant in conjunction with the review of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, and NCs of developed country Parties, which will result in an individual review report for each developed country Party. The information considered will include all emissions and removals related to quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets; assumptions, conditions and methodologies related to the attainment of quantified economy-wide emission reduction target; progress towards the achievement of quantified economy-wide emission reduction target; and the provision of financial, technological and capacity building support to developing country Parties.
  2. A multilateral assessment of developed country Parties’ progress in implementation towards the achievement of emission reductions and removals related to their quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets.  The multilateral assessment will be conducted on the basis of BRs, the national GHG inventory (including the national inventory report) and the NC, the technical review report of BR, as well as supplementary information on the achievement of the Party’s quantified economy-wide emission reduction target. The multilateral assessment will be conducted under a working group session of the SBI for each developed country Party, with participation of all Parties. The Party under review may make a brief oral presentation, followed by oral questions by Parties and responses by the Party under review.

SBSTA 37 (Doha) concluded with the adoption of a work programme for the revision of review guidelines in 2013 and 2014 (FCCC/SBSTA/2012/L.28). According to the work programme, the review guidelines for national communications and biennial reports will be developed and adopted by the end of 2013, and the revised review guidelines for GHG inventories will be adopted by the end of 2014. These review guidelines aim to improve the rigor, robustness and transparency of the IAR process.

SBSTA 38 progressed with the discussion on the development of the review guidelines for national communications and biennial reports. Emphasis was given to the need to streamline the review process and the development of training materials for experts reviewing national communications and biennial reports.  

 
Recent development: preparation of the revised  review guidelines by SBSTA 39 and their adoption by COP19
 

The “Guidelines for the technical review of information reported under the Convention related to greenhouse gas inventories, biennial reports and national communications by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention” were adopted by Parties at COP 19 in Warsaw (decision pdf-icon 23/CP.19). These review guidelines provide a solid foundation for the upcoming technical reviews of NC6 and BR1 in early 2014 under the new IAR process.

The section on the guidelines for the review of GHG inventories is currently a placeholder in these newly adopted review guidelines. The elaboration of these guidelines will be the focus of work under SBSTA in 2014. Two technical workshops will be held in 2014 to progress with the revised review guidelines for GHG inventories, which will be adopted at COP 20 according to the work programme under SBSTA.

 
First Lead Reviewers Meeting
The first Meeting of Lead Reviewers for the review of Biennial Reports and National Communications is taking place in Bonn, Germany, 6-7 March 2014