Climate change

Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation


The Bali Action Plan introduced language on “measurable, reportable and verifiable” greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation actions and commitments, as well as support for GHG mitigation actions in developing countries. However, this language left open many questions, including what M, R and V are, what they should apply to, who should undertake them, and how. Climate Change Expert Group work on Measurement, Reporting and Verification assesses current experience relevant to possible post-2012 MRV provisions, and explores design options for such provisions for both mitigation actions and support.

Identifying and Addressing Gaps in the UNFCCC Reporting Framework (November 2015)
Jane Ellis (OECD), Sara Moarif (OECD)
There are many reasons why the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reporting framework requests information from countries. These include understanding and tracking progress with individual or collective commitments or pledges, providing confidence and enhancing accountability in quantified information measured and reported, and providing background information on the scope and ambition of national climate responses. This paper highlights the gaps, inconsistencies and uncertainties in the current reporting framework, which was developed for both long-standing obligations and mitigation pledges for the period to 2020. The paper also identifies possible improvements in the UNFCCC reporting framework in the context of the post-2020 transparency framework and nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for the post-2020 period.

Projecting Emissions Baselines for National Climate Policy (November 2012)
Christa Clapp (OECD), Andrew Prag (OECD)
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions baselines are reference emissions levels. This paper focuses on projected forward-looking baselines that can be used both to inform national climate policy and to set goals that are defined relative to a business-as-usual (BaU) scenario. As some developing countries have defined national mitigation goals for 2020 in this way, the underlying assumptions and methodologies used in setting these emissions baselines are relevant for assessing the magnitude of both the country's expected total emissions reductions and the global aggregate emissions mitigation effort. Currently, there is limited international guidance available on setting national GHG baselines. The resulting variance and lack of transparency makes it difficult to understand emissions pledges defined as relative to BaU, and difficult to compare emissions scenarios across countries. Moving towards international guidance on setting baselines could improve transparency, clarity and comparability, while still allowing countries to maintain diversity in approaches. This paper discusses good practice and presents options for how guidance might be developed for key elements of baseline setting. The options are presented as "tiers" that move from less detailed to more detailed guidance. The first tier describes guidance that would leave maximum flexibility for individual countries, whilst encouraging transparency. The second tier offers more detailed guidance for countries with greater domestic resources and capabilities. Countries could adhere to the tiers according to their capabilities, although they would be encouraged to follow the more detailed approach. The proposed tiers represent different levels of detail, rather than accuracy or data quality. More detailed guidance does not necessarily lead to "better" baselines, though it may help to improve understanding of different baselines.

 Event: CCXG Global Forum on the New UNFCCC Market Mechanism and Tracking Climate Finance March 2012


Design Options for International Assessment and Review (IAR) and International Consultations and Analysis (ICA) (November 2011)
Jane Ellis (OECD), Gregory Briner (OECD), Yamide Dagnet (seconded to OECD) and Nina Campbell (IEA)
In 2010, the international community took steps to improve the system of reporting and verification under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Parties to the UNFCCC decided at the sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to enhance reporting for all countries and to conduct “international assessment and review” (IAR) of certain information from developed countries and international consultations and analysis” (ICA) of biennial update reports from developing countries. This is a step change from the existing reporting and review system – particularly for developing countries, since information from these countries is currently reported on an infrequent basis and is not reviewed. Establishing a system that combines improved reporting with some form of international verification could improve the quality of information available internationally and increase confidence in the integrity of the information reported. This would help to build trust between countries and potentially also increase the level of ambition of mitigation actions. Further decisions need to be made by Parties in order to determine the scope, inputs, process, outputs and frequency of IAR and ICA, as the decisions agreed at COP 16 (known as the “Cancun Agreements”) provide limited guidance on these items. This paper outlines key questions to help guide such decisions and provides suggestions for the possible design and function of IAR and ICA. It outlines how they could build on existing review processes under the UNFCCC and draw on lessons from other multilateral review processes. The challenge for the international community will be to ensure that IAR and ICA are useful processes, both nationally and internationally, while minimising the resource requirements needed to implement them.

Frequent and Flexible: Options for Reporting Guidelines for Biennial Update Reports (May 2011)
Jane Ellis, Gregory Briner (OECD), S. Moarif (IEA) and Barbara Buchner (CPI)
The Cancun Agreements outlined the list of topics to be included in biennial reports and indicated that guidelines for them were to be developed, but provided limited guidance on their structure and content. This paper proposes a structure for biennial reports for both developed and developing countries under the UNFCCC, and outlines possible reporting formats by which countries could submit this information. The paper suggests that: (i) a similar structure is developed for biennial reports from both developed and developing countries; this would ensure consistency of information presented within different countries’ reports, and would also facilitate international assessment and review (IAR) and international consultations and analysis (ICA); (ii) three main sections are included for biennial reports from all Parties: GHG inventory information; progress on mitigation and mitigation actions; and financial, technology and capacity building support; in addition, a section on emissions projections would be mandatory for developed countries and optional for developing countries; (iii) biennial reports focus on key information where possible, with fuller descriptions and background information reported either in annexes (in the case of national inventory reports from developing countries) or less frequently via other reporting mechanisms under the UNFCCC (such as national communications). This paper also proposes that flexibility be maintained in the reporting guidelines for biennial reports. This could be achieved through the use of “reporting levels” which reflect the different national circumstances and levels of reporting experience between Parties (particularly within the group of developing country Parties). Parties could choose the most appropriate level for each section of their report according to their goal type or reporting capacity, and “move up” levels as and when they can (as is currently the case for GHG inventory calculations). A limited number of levels are suggested for developed countries, as in many cases reporting to the highest level is already mandatory for these countries. For developing countries there could be greater flexibility and a higher number of reporting levels, reflecting the broad range of national circumstances and reporting capacities within this group. The introduction of reporting levels into guidelines would allow countries to provide information at a level that is consistent with their current capabilities, and to improve their reporting over time.

Monitoring and Tracking Long-Term Finance to Support Climate Action (May 2011)
Barbara Buchner (CPI), Jessica Brown (ODI) and Jan Corfee-Morlot (OECD)
The Cancún Agreements formalise a collective commitment by developed countries to provide new and additional funding for action on climate change in developing countries both in the short- and longer-term. This collective financial commitment requires a system to measure, report and verify (MRV) the relevant financial flows across a variety of sources. However, the existing effort to track climate finance lacks transparency, comparability and comprehensiveness. 
The paper highlights the relevant information that needs to be tracked in order to build a comprehensive MRV system for climate finance, proposing both improvements to current reporting and tracking systems as well as new reporting approaches for a more robust and inclusive MRV system. The paper suggests tracking information along a multi-dimensional structure. This structure is aspirational, to be achieved and added to over time. Certain elements of it might not be feasible in the near term but could be developed with a targeted effort. For example, while not a priority in the near-term it is important to recognise the growing importance of South-South financial flows to support climate action and to anticipate adding reporting on this in future. Of course such a system must also be built up slowly, allowing reporting countries to build capacity to provide higher quality and more complete information over time. In particular, the paper outlines two strawman proposals for reporting on climate finance that integrate existing and new UNFCCC vehicles for reporting or recording information, (i.e. national communications and biennial reports, the registry) as well as drawing on other reporting systems. These are: (i) reporting through limited sources; or (ii) reporting through expanded sources, building on broader institutional collaboration and non-party reporting. Both ‘strawman’ proposals foresee an important oversight role from the UNFCCC to serve as recipient of all data, and to co-ordinate the verification and review and/or international consultation and analysis process. Both options advance a more comprehensive system for storing and accessing data on international climate finance and will facilitate comparison and integration of data across sources.

Options to revise reporting guidelines for Annex I and non-Annex I National Communications (November 2010) - Jane Ellis (OECD), Sara Moarif (IEA), Gregory Briner (OECD), Barbara Buchner (Climate Policy Initiative) and Eric Massey (S&A Associates)
This paper identifies possible changes for new reporting guidelines for NCs from Annex I and non-Annex I countries, both for “updates” that could be produced biennially, and for “full” NCs that could be developed on a longer time-scale.

Core Elements of National Reports (June 2010)
Jane Ellis (OECD), Sara Moarif (IEA) and Greg Briner (OECD)
Enhancing the framework for measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV) mitigation actions, commitments and support in a post-2012 climate agreement could help facilitate strategic and cost-effective decision-making on climate policy and generate transparent and comparable information. This paper explores the possible functions, form, timing and content of future national reports under the UNFCCC, focusing on National Communications, identifies what information is needed at the national and international level post-2012, and provides insights for possible new guidelines for national reports.

 (December 2009).
Joy Aeree Kim, Jane Ellis (OECD) and Sara Moarif (IEA)
At the heart of designing a successful framework for the post-2012 climate change regime are the issues of finance and enhanced greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation – both in developed and developing countries. How to “match” support with GHG mitigation actions in developing countries will play a crucial role in addressing both issues of finance and enhanced mitigation, as it can affect the environmental performance and cost-effectiveness of such support. This paper explores experience with, and possible design elements/options for, a mechanism to match support with nationally appropriate mitigation actions in developing countries that require such support.

Climate change (October 2009)
By Jane Ellis (OECD), Sara Moarif (IEA)and Joy Aeree Kim (OECD)
This paper explores the possible purposes, coverage and form of a reporting/recording mechanism for greenhouse gas actions, support and commitments post-2012 and highlights the decision points that are needed in order to establish such a mechanism. Drawing on existing experience, the paper explores what information such a mechanism could include in terms of actions, commitments and support, as well as the institutional implications of different design options.

Financing Climate Change Mitigation: Towards a Framework for Measurement, Reporting and Verification (November 2009)
Jan Corfee-Morlot, Bruno Guay (OECD) and Kate Larsen (IEA)
This paper highlights existing knowledge and information about a range of different types of mitigation support and outlines a structure for a future framework for MRV to provide greater accountability and transparency. Mitigation specific financial flows (ie aiming to limit emissions) are estimated to be in the range of 8 - 53 billion USD in 2007, which is small relative to financial flows to mitigation relevant sectors (e.g. energy, infrastructure, etc). The paper also highlights the need for domestic policy frameworks to steer private investments across relevant sectors and, within each sector, towards projects fostering mitigation.

GHG mitigation actions: MRV issues and options (March 2009)
By Jane Ellis (OECD), Sara Moarif (IEA)
This paper provides an overview of current efforts to assess if GHG mitigation actions underway in different countries and regions are “measurable, reportable and verifiable”. The paper also assesses how such efforts could be improved, explores MRV options for different types of greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation actions, and highlights decision points needed to establish a post-2012 framework. It concludes that before detailed MRV provisions can be established, decisions are needed on the aim of MRV provisions, the types of actions and commitments that these provisions apply to, the scope of such actions/commitments (e.g. national, sectoral, project) – as well as the form of MRV provision desired (e.g. principles, process, general guidance).

Linking Mitigation Actions with Mitigation Support in Developing Countries: A Conceptual Framework (March 2009)
By Joy Aeree Kim (OECD), Jan Corfee-Morlot (OECD), Philippine de T’Serclaes (IEA)
The Bali Action Plan introduced the notion of linking GHG mitigation action in developing countries with support for such action, in a "measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV)" manner. However, it does not specify the relationship or link that may be made between nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) in developing countries and mitigation support. It also remains unclear whether the MRV requirements apply to the link between NAMAs in developing countries and mitigation support, or to one or both of the separate elements. This paper suggests a number of elements for a possible conceptual framework to "link" mitigation actions with mitigation support, including practical considerations for how one might measure, report and verify progress, with a view to understanding the role for such a framework in a post-2012 agreement.

 (November 2008)
By Jane Ellis (OECD), Kate Larsen (IEA)
A post-2012 climate agreement may well be more complex than the Kyoto Protocol, incorporating a wider range of GHG mitigation actions and commitments from a larger number of countries. The procedures for overseeing progress in the implementation of such post-2012 actions and commitments may also differ from those under the Kyoto Protocol. For example, the Bali Action Plan calls for enhanced mitigation activities to be “measurable, reportable, and verifiable” (MRV).This paper explores what MRV could mean for mitigation commitments and actions and how current procedures would need to change in order to ensure that post-2012 actions and commitments are indeed “MRVable.”