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The Paris Agreement has set the world on course for transformative climate action to cut emissions, promote clean energy, build climate resilience, and catalyze climate action investments. The Agreement’s backbone is transparency and accountability on the steps countries are taking toward these goals. This transparency is vital for building international trust and confidence that action is taking place as well as for assessing how to facilitate further action.

As countries negotiate a new international climate agreement for the post-2020 period—including at this week’s intersessional meeting in Bonn, Germany—the key choices for putting the world on a secure pathway to a low-carbon future should be front-of-mind. The new agreement will be essential for putting in place the policies beyond 2020 that ensure a shift from high-carbon to low-carbon and climate-resilient investments. To do this, the agreement will have to send the right signals to governments and businesses about the trajectory we need to be on.

The UNFCCC meetings in Bonn this week mark a critical time, as one of the issues negotiators are focusing on is the development of countries’ post-2020 plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Parties in a position to do so must communicate their post-2020 “contributions” by the first quarter of 2015. To help inform this discussion, we published a working paper outlining what this information should look like and why this level of transparency is important.

Ex-Ante Clarification, Transparency, and Understanding of Intended Nationally Determined Mitigation Contributions

Discussions are being initiated this month at the UNFCCC negotiating session in Bonn, Germany on the types of information that will be needed to understand the nationally determined contributions Parties put forward for the post-2020 period under the emerging 2015 Agreement.

This working...

Capacity Needs for Greenhouse Gas Measurement and Performance Tracking

A Report on Scoping Activities in Six Countries

This working paper summarizes the results of scoping research conducted by WRI and its partners to assess capacity needs in six countries—Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, South Africa, and Thailand—related to greenhouse gas (GHG) measurement and performance tracking. The paper also identifies...

This piece was written with analysis from Athena Ballesteros, Edward Cameron, Yamide Dagnet, Florence Daviet, Aarjan Dixit, Heather McGray, and Clifford Polycarp.

Expectations were low for this year’s UNFCCC climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar (COP 18), which concluded last week. It was scheduled to be a “finalize-the-rules” type of COP, rather than one focused on large, political deals that went into the early hours of the morning. Key issues on the table included finalizing the rules for the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period; concluding a series of decisions on transparency, finance, adaptation, and forests (REDD+); and agreeing on a work plan to negotiate a new legally binding international climate agreement by 2015. The emissions gap was also front-and-center, as the new UNEP Gap Report showed that countries are further away than even a year ago from the goal of keeping global average temperature rise below two degrees C.

In the end, countries were successful in making progress, but only incrementally. The lack of political will was breathtaking, particularly in light of recent extreme weather events.

Here’s a look at what happened across nine key issues that were on the table:

As we move into the second week of the UN climate talks, the desert sand is swirling around the conference center in Doha, Qatar. Countries spent the first week tying up some loose ends on several issues, but there are still many details to be worked out before the sand settles and Parties head home. It’s hard to tell whether this meeting will turn into a full sandstorm or clear up.

The uncertainty here in Doha contrasts greatly with the increasingly clear (and grim) climate picture that we’re seeing around the world. Yet another report was just published finding that global carbon emissions are at an all-time high. This publication comes on the heels of the recent UN Environment Programme report showing that the gap in emissions is growing even wider. And, recent World Bank analysis reinforced the potential catastrophic impacts of moving beyond 2 degrees Celsius of global temperature rise. The warnings are clear, but it’s hard to tell if negotiators are ready to respond with the urgency that’s needed.

The Current State of COP 18

Indeed, it is fair to say that most of the critical issues on the table at COP 18 are not yet resolved. All the questions around the Kyoto Protocol and a second commitment period are still open. Issues surrounding finance – including medium-term pledge levels, the long-term work plan, and how to track countries’ climate finance commitments – have yet to be worked out. Roundtables on the Durban Platform resulted in a good exchange of views, but it’s still unclear whether there will be a firm work plan for 2013 or whether it will remain vague. The most vulnerable countries are understandably asking for more action now – even before a new 2020 agreement kicks in – but most countries haven’t put forth specific proposals.

While it’s not surprising that so many topics are stuck after the first week, the lack of action puts additional focus on the role of Ministers. Many are already in Doha, and they have their work cut out for them if they want to make progress in the remaining week of the conference.


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