FEATURE: A snapshot of transparency actions from around the world
Transparency, accountability and increased climate ambition – domestically and globally – were major subjects of discussion at the Global NDC Conference 2019. Paul May of CDKN reports on presentations from a wide range of countries.
In his keynote speech to the Global NDC Conference 2019, Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research set out the urgency of the climate challenge, referencing the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees. Unless we limit average global warming to 1.5°C, a range of climate processes will unfold that will be deeply harmful to human society and our natural environment. While some of these dangerous trends are already indicated, they would become more pronounced beyond 1.5°C and we would be far less able to adapt and cope.
Gerd Trogemann, UNDP commented that the time pressure is so great that we need to exchange information and experience as much possible, to ensure that the new generation of NDCs can meet this challenge. María Paz Cigarán, General Manager of Libelula, Peru added that we’re facing a “whole of society” endeavour, that we need to be “brave, persistent and collaborative.” Vera Scholz of GIZ also called for cooperation, saying that “climate change is a good occasion to come together.”
In this spirit of information sharing, here is a quick round up of ideas, insights and challenges related to theme of transparency from some of the many countries represented at the Global NDC Conference 2019.
Peru has a climate change law, which includes a multistakeholder platform for monitoring, so the country will have monitoring well in hand before the UNFCCC’s Global Stocktake. Indigenous people were consulted in the preparation of this law and participate in the monitoring system. For forest monitoring, specifically, indigenous stakeholders have a leading role – according to the country’s General Director of Climate Change and Desertification, Rosa Morales.
South Africa has submitted three Biennial Update Reports (BURs) and three National Communications to the UNFCCC. It initiated the National Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Improvement Programme for its key emitting sectors to improve the accuracy of its emissions inventory, instead of relying on IPCC ‘default’ figures – explained Sandra Motshwanedi, from the Department for Environmental Affairs. For instance, the country relies heavily on coal and has developed bespoke national metrics based on domestic coal production. The environment department is developing data-sharing agreements on mitigation actions and their effects with sectoral departments. Sectors are mandated to report on their emissions and climate initiatives (and their benefits, such as job creation). To support this, the government published guidelines on how to report emissions – and also provides training for businesses on using them.
In India, the Paris rulebook was seen as an opportunity to think again about how the country assesses its emissions. Government departments are starting to look at the emissions of individual sectors and plan interventions to mitigate and adapt. For transport, for instance, projects that fail to articulate how they will tackle congestion or pollution do not get approved. Projects at the national level must also involve citizen consultation, because, as Mukund Kumar Sinha of the Government of India said, “in climate change, everyone is a stakeholder, because it affects everyone.”
Costa Rica has created a matrix with over 100 indicators which integrates SDG and NDC indicators, according to Andrea Meza, Director of Climate Change. The government is also developing a voluntary programme referred to as ‘carbon neutralities’ to harmonise data-gathering at the municipal level. Central government sets the rules, but empowers subnational territories and cities to conduct emission inventories and propose solutions. Local authorities are given official recognition for their efforts. The initiative has proven highly popular, with more than 30 applications received so far, resulting in a lot of new information. Initial findings yielded surprising results; despite 100% renewable electricity being readily available, gas stoves accounted for a high proportion of emissions. This was due to subsidies making gas more affordable to low-come households. Changes to this subsidy are now being discussed.
Chile has submitted three Biennial Update Reports (BURs) and three National Communications, and has been through three cycles of International Consultation Analysis, helping to build a permanent mechanism for domestic reporting. The government has a sector report coordinator in the climate change office of the Ministry of Environment and information is provided by focal points in each sectoral ministry. In parallel, there is the national inventory system, in which sectors prepare greenhouse gas inventories. The Ministry of Environment compiles this data and puts it in the national inventory report. The data is validated by a council of ministers on before being submitted to the UNFCC Secretariat. Jenny Mager from the Government of Chile explained that indicators are sometimes chosen in specific political moments to highlight particular government commitments. This can be very challenging in terms of tracking, where there is insufficient technical information that support the use of each indicator.
Colombia is working to build trust between different stakeholders via a roundtable on mining, energy and conflict attended by unions for coal and electric workers, environmental organisations, urban groups, women’s collectives, and young people at different levels to discuss issues such as labour, social rights and climate change. The country has a rich history of local and grassroots initiatives campaigning to protect the natural environment. This is often done without government support. Tatiana Roa Avendano from the Government of Colombia said, “the solution is at the local level, we need to listen more to these kinds of people who are working everyday without money, support or public policies. If we listen more, maybe we can change this world.”
The Global NDC Conference 2019 aimed to inspire and enable policy-makers and practitioners to accelerate the pace and scale of transformational change through NDC implementation in order to reach the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. CDKN was an organising partner; see www.globalndcconference.org/about.
Images: Graphic harvest, Global NDC Conference 2019; photo (above right) courtesy NDC Partnership.