What is transparency and reporting?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides the foundation for intergovernmental action to combat climate change and its impacts on humanity and ecosystems. The ultimate objective of the Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

To achieve the objective of the Convention, Parties need reliable, transparent and comprehensive information on GHG emissions, climate actions and support. Under the Convention, all Parties are obliged to communicate to the Conference of the Parties (COP) information relevant to the implementation of the Convention (Article 12). Aiming at building mutual trust and confidence, the measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) arrangements under the Convention form an essential basis for understanding the current GHG emission levels, the ambitions of existing efforts, as well as progress on both the national and the international scale, including means of implementation such as finance, technology transfer and capacity-building.

The arrangements for national reporting have evolved throughout the history of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol into a more comprehensive MRV framework. Measures to significantly enhance transparency of action and support under the Convention were adopted as part of the Bali Action Plan at COP 13 and elaborated in decisions adopted at subsequent COP sessions.

The reporting requirements and the timetable 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. For developing countries, who lack the capacity and required institutional set-up to track the progress of climate actions at the national level, the financial, technical and capacity-building support has been provided by bilateral and multilateral organizations, including one of the formal channels under the Convention process, the Consultative Group of Experts on National Communications from non-Annex I Parties.

In 2015, at COP 21, Parties, aiming to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, adopted the Paris Agreement and through it established an enhanced transparency framework. The core arrangements of the transparency framework are illustrated in the figure below.

The transparency framework is expected to build mutual trust and confidence, and promote effective implementation by providing:

  1. A clear understanding of climate change action in the light of the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2, including clarity and tracking of progress towards achieving Parties' individual nationally determined contributions under Article 4, and Parties' adaptation actions under Article 7, including good practices, priorities, needs and gaps, to inform the global stocktake under Article 14;

  2. Clarity on support provided and received by relevant individual Parties in the context of climate change actions under Articles 4, 7, 9, 10 and 11 and, to the extent possible, to provide a full overview of aggregate financial support provided, to inform the global stocktake under Article 14.

By design, the enhanced transparency framework covers all substantive aspects of the Paris Agreement, including tracking progress of implementation and achievement of nationally determined contributions. The reporting, technical expert review and facilitative, multilateral consideration of progress under the enhanced framework for action and support will be applied to all Parties with flexibility to those developing countries that need it in the light of their capacities and continue to be a crucial vehicle to implement the Convention and the Paris Agreement.

The modalities, procedures and guidelines for the enhanced transparency framework is currently being negotiated under the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement.