Tag: MRV

The A-Z of MRV

Robust measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) is a critical part of the Durban outcome. But 24 hours before the new text is out, with Parties hard at work, ECO is concerned that key MRV elements are at risk of falling off the table.

First, let’s review the fundamentals: The reason we’re all learning the MRV alphabet soup is to support the implementation of commitments and actions, build confidence and ensure the environmental integrity of the regime. Seems obvious, right? Yet some of the proposals on the table would seriously undermine these objectives.

In addition, MRV must respect the framing principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ and reflect differentiation between developed and developing countries while aiming for good reporting from both. ECO worries that some developed countries are trying to erase those lines. 

And finally, as critical as MRV is to the Durban outcome, it’s just one piece of the picture whose outlines were drawn by the Bali Action Plan. MRV must always be viewed as part of the bigger picture of increased mitigation,
finance, technology transfer and capacity
development commitments.

Critical MRV elements that must be in the Durban outcome include:

  • Procedural transparency and meaningful stakeholder participation, including the ability to make written submissions to technical analysis experts and the SBI; pose questions in an SBI review session open to Parties and observers, and unrestricted access to all information (inputs and outputs).
  • Common accounting rules on emission reductions and enhanced removals for Annex I countries.
  • A process to clarify the assumptions underlying the pledges of all countries (e.g. gases, sectors, base years, assumptions on BAU) to be able to accurately assess the gigatonne gap and ensure comparability for Annex I countries. (More coming from ECO on these hot button issues.)
  • MRV outputs must be timely and include enough detail to enable a meaningful first periodic review between 2013 and 2015. Biennial reports, biennial update reports, and the first international assessment and review (IAR) and international consultation and analysis (ICA) should be completed as early as possible in 2014.
    Enough detail must be provided in biennial reports (BRs) and biennial update reports (BURs) to conduct an effective global assessment, including clarity on assumptions, underlying pledges and projections until to 2050, in 10-year increments.
  • The technical review teams, SBI and the COP should have the ability to comment on the status of implementation and issue recommendations in order to assist Parties in the implementation of their pledges and to improve reporting.
  • A compliance process for Annex I countries, including consequences for non-compliance such as suspension from the flexible mechanisms.
  • Improved MRV of finance through the adoption of a common reporting format in biennial reports and in the future revision to the guidelines for national communications.
  • Enhanced support for developing countries to produce their biennial update reports and national communications, and to participate in international consultation and analysis (ICA).
  • A summary of REDD+ activities, including actions, methodologies, accounting, safeguards and information systems should be included in biennial update reports and national communications.
  • Time-specific provisions to revise guidelines for national communications by COP 18 and for BRs, BURs, IAR and ICA based on lessons learned, by COP 22 in 2016.
Related Newsletter : 

MRV: Opaque ‘Transparency’ or Meaningful Participation

ECO finds it heartening that that most Parties see Durban as the time to adopt essential guidelines and modalities on the key MRV issues.  To be sure there are some gaps, which we will return to soon.   

But we’re dismayed to see almost no mention of stakeholder engagement in the November 18th text. It seems that most Parties have forgotten about making the transparency process, well, transparent. The few mentions in the text are incomplete at best.

So why this silence? Here’s a guess: you’ve been too busy focusing on other things. Yes, it’s true that there is a lot to discuss, but let’s remember that stakeholder participation is nothing new for the UNFCCC and must be part of the provisions for IAR and ICA.  There are three key elements that must be reflected in the text: (1) stakeholders must be able to make submissions feeding into the technical review; (2) they must be allowed to pose questions during the SBI process; and of course (3) all documentation from the IAR and ICA be made publicly available.

As IAR and ICA are all about transparency, the meetings under the SBI should be open to stakeholders and allow for their questions at the end of the meeting or, at the very least, in writing in advance.

Stakeholders should also have the opportunity to submit information in advance of the expert technical analysis and sharing of views among Parties. These submissions should be compiled in a stakeholder report as an additional input to be considered along with countries’ biennial (update) reports and the expert technical analysis. NGOs, businesses, universities and municipalities among others all have useful information to address climate change collaboratively. This includes complementary information that would help increase recognition of a country’s efforts, share lessons learned from domestic implementation, and identify support needs and additional mitigation opportunities.  After the review, stakeholders could also help the Party concerned prepare for the next round of reporting and identify relevant financial or capacity building support.

Finally -- and this should really go without saying -- all inputs and outputs of the IAR and ICA process should be made publicly available.  This includes the reports of the technical experts; transcripts of the facilitative sharing of views among Parties; and the outputs from the SBI, including recommendations.  The UNFCCC already makes documents and submissions from Parties and stakeholders publicly available on the web, including all national communications from Parties and the in-depth reviews of Annex I country national communications. So let’s follow that great precedent.

Remember, transparency is an objective of the IAR and ICA processes under decision 1/CP.16.  Also, a commitment to engage stakeholders is enshrined in the Convention and in the Cancun Agreements.  And surely with Rio+20 just around the corner, Parties don’t need to be reminded that Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development established that public participation and access to information are critical in matters relating to the environment, including climate change.

Aren’t you glad the issue is now clear!  ECO is hopeful that Parties will see the light so that IAR and ICA live up to the promise of transparency when they discuss these modalities in informals.

MRV works for me!

Jiayi Xu: MRV works for me

Jiayi Xu
Programme Officer
Institute for Environment and Development (IED)

Since February this year, I started my career in climate change. After an orientation from my supervisor FEI Xiaojing, the former South Capacity Building fellow of CAN-International, I started my participation in the CAN Measureable, Reportable and Verifiable (MRV) working group. The Bonn intersession was the starting point for me to get insight into my job. Panama is the second stop for my career to increase my understanding. However, compared to Bonn session, I am much clearer about the area in which I am interested.

There are many issues within MRV that are cross-cutting with other issues, but I am particularly interested in the framework of MRV. Personally, my expectation for Panama is to learn more about International Assessment and Review (IAR) for developed countries and International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) for developing countries. For the negotiations, my expectation for this intersession is to see the discussion of design, accounting rules, and components needed to get covered; most importantly, capacity building for MRV in developing countries. If the discussion continues, in Durban, it is highly possible to have some outcomes of the guidelines and timetable for IAR and ICA.

In Panama, I participated in the discussion in the CAN MRV working group to continue learning. Due to the clash with some important meetings, I have not attended informal meetings about MRV, which I planned to do. However, by attending CAN meetings, I am able to keep myself updated for MRV issues. Meanwhile, I attended side events to hear about some technical MRV issues, including accounting rules, systems, and tools.

The discussion about IAR and ICA tools and MRV capacity building are important in Panama. The MRV issue might achieve progressive outcomes in Durban COP17 if enough progress is made in Panama. Panama is the last intersessional before the COP, and any continuing discussion about MRV can be a positive signal to progress this issue. For example, the discussion about capacity building for developing country in ICA accommodates the feasibility and ability for developing countries to conduct an MRV process. The ‘dream’ of an MRV process is to ensure environmental integrity, collaborative work, and transparency of accounting for emissions in each country.


When I started work on MRV, I did not realize what this issues was all about and what it meant to track negotiations. Apart from my work on MRV, I also do adaptation research in vulnerable areas around climate change in western China. And I love it much more than tracking the MRV issue. Between Panama and Bonn, I continued my researche by interviewing farmers when visiting local communities. Once I was in a village in southwest China, where there used to be plenty of precipitation in summer carried over from East Asia and the Indian monsoons. This year it only rained three times, resulting in severe drought. A 70 year-old farmer said to me, “I have just been following the cultivating methods that I inherited from previous generations, it worked for decades. I have been kind and moral in my life. Why do I get this punishment? Please tell me how it happens and where I went wrong.” The punishment he referred to is that all the rice died in the fields because of the drought. He lost the major income resource for the year. Just before I arrived, he made a decision to harvest the rice 3 months earlier than usual and feed it to the livestock he kept, while waiting for help from the government. The women (in the picture above) experienced the same situation and made the same decision. I really wanted to say that it is not them that cause climate change, but it’s the whole world. It is not him, who only has one lamp and one television consuming electricity, that induces climate change. It is everyone in the cities, where there are energy-intensive industries that are the problem. Some countries in the world contribute more to his “punishment” than others. On my way back to my office, I realized a transparent monitoring system for countries to achieve environmental integrity is vital, and that is exactly the difficult issue I am now working on, MRV.

After that, I rescheduled my work plans and am balancing between tracking negotiations and my community adaptation research.  Now, I have a reason and a mission to be in Panama and see a point in devoting my time to the research of MRV. Rationally, it is impossible to end his “punishment” in the near future, but I still hope he will live a happy and prosperous life. I will continue my work, for adaptation, for MRV, for climate change.

Jiayi Xu: MRV works for me

Jiayi Xu: MRV works for me

Jiayi Xu, from the Institute for Environment and Development, a Chinese NGO, speaks on MRV and expectations for the Durban UN Climate Talks.


What’s expected from the US

Earlier this week, ECO started exploring ideas for what two of the three main groups of countries – Kyoto Annex 1 countries and developing countries - need to decide to bring to the table to enable a successful Durban climate summit. These articles have of course been far from comprehensive, as there are other important issues where movement is also required from these Parties.

As ECO has repeatedly stated (is it sinking in yet?): all developed countries currently with QELROs under the KP should continue to have (more ambitious!!) QERCs under the KP for the post 2012 period, with accounting rules that close the loopholes and increase environmental integrity of the Protocol.

Developing countries need to show their commitment to adequate action by agreeing a mandate for a future legally binding agreement to help ensure the “full, effective and sustained implementation” of the Convention. This should come, in the form of a Protocol or other legal instrument, respecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Now let’s talk about the third “group” -- the United States, for whom the mandate is no real concession.  It is essential that architecture is built under the Convention track that allows comparability of efforts of the US and other developed countries, so that there can be clarity on the overall (in)adequacy of these efforts through time.  To mitigate against the chaos of a pledge and review (4C+) world, there also needs to be clear expectations for a more ambitious level of US effort on both mitigation and finance.

All countries agreed in Bali that the efforts of all developed countries should be comparable. To avoid comparing apples and oranges, tons and tonnes, or emission reductions and loopholes, this means that common accounting standards will be an essential part of the mix that these countries will need to agree to in Durban. Since the negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol have already laid the groundwork, there is no earthly reason why they should not be the basis for the common accounting regime for developed countries under the Convention track (for all that the US is kicking and screaming like a spoiled toddler at the very thought of it)..

There are other key MRV elements that are also needed to ensure the agreed-to comparability. The main guidelines for the rest of the International Assessment & Review system need to be agreed, as well as the guidelines, assumptions and metrics for the biennial reports, including for finance. In addition, all developed countries should put forward Low Carbon Development Strategies, as agreed in Cancun, and these should be integrated into the MRV framework.

For Durban to be a success, all Parties must come to the table prepared to build upon the existing architecture of the Convention and Protocol, by ensuring the continued viability of the Kyoto Protocol, agreeing that the Convention track will result in a comprehensive and ambitious legally-binding instrument, and not allowing the regime to fall into the carboniferous pit of every country doing only what it can be bothered to do, and reporting on it, if at all, as it sees fit.


Midweek MRV

Halfway through the meeting in Panama, ECO would like to present an assessment of progress made thus far. Overall, ECO is happy to note that Parties are very busy preparing and discussing text.  There are still potential storm clouds on the horizon for Durban, however ECO hopes that by the end of this week Parties can get agreement on producing a set of decision text that can narrow the remaining political differences and lay the groundwork for important steps forward in Durban. While not comprehensive, here is ECO’s take on some of the issues under discussion here this in Panama.
Substantive discussions on issues related to legal architecture have percolated up in Panama - including in the LCA informal group on Legal Options (despite Saudi Arabia's best efforts to squelch those discussions).  But there is clearly no meaningful convergence on these issues, and the process lacks a forum for having the cross cutting dialogue necessary to ensure coherent outcomes of the two tracks in Durban.  While outside the main talks here, the Mexico-PNG proposal to address voting procedures is a welcome attempt to focus attention on improving the efficiency of the UNFCCC process.
On the pathetically low levels of developed country ambition – Parties have shown signs that they are at least at step one: recognising they have a problem.   ECO hopes that Parties can come up with a clear process on how to address the gigatonne gap in Durban and happy to see there are some proposals on the table.
On the LULUCF issue being addressed in the Kyoto Protocol track, ECO applauds the principle put forward by the G77 this week in its proposal to treat natural disturbances using a statistical approach. ECO is waiting to see if this new proposal will also be transparent, robust and conservative.  On the other hand, the implications of New Zealand’s proposal for “flexible land use” raises significant concerns that this could wreck other parts of the LULUCF accounting rules and has the potential to cause further damage if used in REDD.
The opening informal on finance kicked off with clashes over whether to negotiate the Standing Committee or long-term finance (scaling up 2013-2020 finance as well as sources).  After Bonn, ECO anticipated that Parties would finally agree to focus on long-term finance.  But it didn’t take long for disappointment to take hold as the US, other umbrella group members and even some EU countries refused to discuss text  – with the US insisting that responsibility lies with individual parties to determine how they will reach the $100bn Cancun commitment.  If that’s the case, ECO thinks the US should be made to say what their plan is! Chief among the innovative finance sources that should be addressed is bunkers, where a decision under sectoral approaches to guide the International Maritime Organization to design a carbon pricing instrument taking into account the principle of CBDR would be a significant outcome in Durban.
Discussions on the scope and modalities of the 2013-15 Review happily included an IPCC briefing on the scope and timing of its Fifth Assessment Report and how its findings could contribute to the review process.   ECO urges Parties to creatively design and adopt at Durban a three-year work program that creates an ‘upward spiral of ambition’.
ECO welcomes that views on the Adaptation Committee became clearer during the last few days and that more and more Parties are considering ways that civil society can be an active part of the committee. But in the next three days, nothing less than draft decision text will do -- especially as seven other critical issues on adaptation remain to be addressed in Durban.
The technology facilitator has shown commendable initiative in developing draft decision text. However, the first reading of the text throws into relief the developed countries’ attempts to thwart progress by bracketing various critical elements and options essential for operationalizing the Technology Mechanism by 2012. ECO urges parties to ratchet up the speed of drafting decision text through pointed discussion around critical issues and ensuring that the Cancun Agreement timelines for operationalizing the technology mechanism are met.
Finally, ECO is pleased that negotiators are intensively addressing the myriad issues involved on MRV, including ICA, IAR, and biennial reports, that text is being developed, and that NGO participation in the IAR process is under serious consideration.  Similar consideration, though should be given to such participation in the ICA process.  

The Mandate

Yesterday, ECO noted that there are three groups of countries in the legal form negotiations that each need to bring proposals to the table at Durban: the KP developed countries, the non-KP Annex I Parties and the developing countries.

ALL the developed countries that have ratified their Annex B targets for the first commitment period should have their targets ready to plug and play for CP2. The non-KP Annex I Party[s] need to increase their ambition, be part of a common accounting system and MRV to bring forward the established KP systems - how else would the Bali Action Plan’s agreed ‘comparability’ be achieved?

Many are suggesting that we are facing a transitional period, where the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol keeps alive an architecture that, through Article 3.1 and other elements, keeps a science-based approach at the core of the global response to the climate threat. Through this post-2012 period, the elements of a new comprehensive legally-binding agreement[s] needs to be developed. In ECO’s view, this agreement needs to be in the form of a Protocol[s], or other such appropriate legal instrument, that respects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

However, we will not attain comprehensive legally-binding agreement[s] equal to the challenge we face unless Parties find common cause that such an agreement is needed. In ECO’s view, in addition to KP Parties agreeing a second commitment period in Durban, all Parties must agree on a mandate to negotiate a legally binding instrument covering all Bali building blocks under the LCA. This mandate needs, at a minimum, to agree:

-   what the result of the negotiations will be, specifying that Parties are working towards a legally binding instrument with legally binding commitments

-   the end date (ECO would suggest 2015 would allow time for institution building and for experience of MRV to bze enhanced)

-     the scope

-     the process, including forum

-     principles to guide the negotiations

Without a mandate for the third period of the climate regime, we will again face a gap – between commitments, but also in ambition, and the resulting sense of the world moving forward together to avoid the worst that an human-altered atmosphere can throw at us.



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