For country commitments to form the basis of an effectively
functioning agreement, a framework of international
climate machinery needs to be built around them. This
will require a COP decision mandating that negotiations
conclude in a legally binding instrument that contains the
following specified mechanisms and institutions.
A matter of record: schedule or registry
All countries’ commitments and actions would be formally
registered at Copenhagen which requires creation of an
official registry or schedule. These could be amended post-
Copenhagen only in order to make them more ambitious.
Support pledged by developed countries for developing
country actions would also be included.
Comparing apples with apples: common international standards
When the post-2012 international climate agreement
comes into effect, it is critical that countries employ both
common methodologies to track greenhouse gas emissions
and common international accounting standards. Without
such rules, comparing emission reduction actions taken by
different countries will be like comparing apples and oranges.
Such rules will also be important to enable a global
carbon market to operate effectively and help drive down
the cost of climate change mitigation.
The agreement would therefore include common international
accounting and reporting standards for countries
taking on targets in four key areas: 1) comprehensive
reporting and review of national GHG emissions; 2) common
standards for quantifying, reporting, and reviewing
emission reductions, including from changes in land use,
land-use change, and forestry; 3) common standards for
national GHG registries and 4) common methodologies for
estimating emission reductions from developing country
projects or programs funded by developed countries
(known as offsets).
Measuring in order to manage: verification
A robust mechanism to measure, report and verify the
commitments and actions that countries agree to take is
critical to promote trust between nations, and to ensure
that promised greenhouse gas reductions actually materialize.
This would include deployment of expert review teams
to assess country efforts. Delivery of the support that
developed countries pledge to developing countries would
also be measured, reported and verified. An Implementation
Committee would be established, providing a forum
for expert review teams to share findings with countries.
The UNFCCC Conference of the Parties could be mandated
to encourage countries to meet their obligations and
empowered to find a country out of compliance. Tools to
encourage compliance could include possible suspension
of a country’s rights and privileges under the agreement.
Applying the latest science: review mechanism
It is critically important that the Copenhagen agreement
remains consistent with the latest science on climate
change. This will require institutionalized reviews to help
ensure that countries’ collective commitments meet the
objectives the world has set. The first would review countries’
efforts in light of the latest IPCC review of science
in 2014. Further emergency reviews could be triggered by
a group of countries if new scientific evidence warrants
swifter attention than scheduled in the agreement.