There is much on the Warsaw agenda for enhancing the current MRV system from Cancun as well as enabling the ex ante equity and adequacy review of post-2020 targets.
But the lack of progress regarding the review guidelines for developed country biennial reports and developing country International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) reports is disheartening. In both cases, the importance of a strong technical assessment is crucial, though the purposes are different.
For developed countries, expert review should be able to assess progress on fulfilling commitments as well as identifying potential problems.
At the same time, for many developing countries, the new biennial update reports and the process to analyse them were significant improvements on previous reporting efforts, especially since it was the first time they agreed to be subject to some sort of scrutiny.
However no one expects these reports will be perfect from the beginning. It would be very beneficial for the technical expert teams to recommend further improvement in these reports – after all, they are called ‘experts’.
Looking forward to the post-2020 tabling and assessment of commitments, Warsaw needs to set up a clear process to generate the most ambitious and fair offers by the time we reach our final destination in Paris. This needs to be underpinned by guidance that will: (a) help countries to prepare and submit their offers; (b) assess how equitable these offers are and how close those offers get to emissions levels needed to stay below 1.5/2°C; and (c) explore how a basket of equity indicators could facilitate the evaluation of the offers.
The procedures and outcomes for both the preparation and assessment processes must be equitable. This means including credible elements to assess whether countries are doing their fair share, in line with science and a set of equity indicators.
In the next 10 days, Parties face the challenge of agreeing on a template for recording their proposed commitments, including enough information – on gases, sectors, GWPs, base year, etc. – to enable comparability of efforts and assess whether they add up to a 1.5/2°C goal, whilst still acknowledging different national circumstances and capability. This must be agreed in Warsaw in order to generate offers in 2014.
For developed countries, this should be a relatively straightforward task as their commitments must be in the form of economy-wide, absolute, 5-year, emission reduction targets.
The window for adopting the guidelines for the assessment of offers is also narrow. We urge Parties to consider building upon existing institutions and procedures, whilst paving the way for designing a more systematic, robust assessment over time.
We cannot repeat the mistakes of Copenhagen with late and vague ‘commitments’ – the history is fresh enough that we should not have to repeat it.