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Designing National Commitments to Drive Measurable Emissions Reductions After 2020

In November 2013, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will meet in Warsaw, Poland to continue negotiations on the new international 2015 climate change agreement. A critical component of this new agreement will be the design of national mitigation commitments that outline countries’ emissions reductions after 2020. This is a complex process, involving a significant number of options and a wide range of additional factors Parties will weigh, especially related to the issue of equity. This working paper aims to shed light on how countries can most effectively design their commitments to be “measurable,” which is critical for enhancing transparency, accountability, comparability, domestic GHG management, and accurate tracking of global emissions reductions under the new agreement.

Key Findings


Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have recognized the need for global average temperature not to rise above 2°C compared with pre-industrial temperatures. In an effort to limit warming to this level, Parties to the Convention have adopted commitments and are now negotiating a new international agreement, to be adopted by 2015, for the post-2020 period. In November 2013, Parties will meet in Warsaw, Poland to continue negotiations on the 2015 agreement.

A central component of the new agreement will be national mitigation commitments undertaken by Parties after 2020, and a number of views have been submitted to the UNFCCC on this topic. While views are diverse, several have converged around the idea that mitigation commitments should be nationally determined, rather than negotiated, in order to encourage participation by all Parties and lead to greater overall reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

At the Warsaw negotiations, Parties will discuss the process for submitting, as well as the form of, mitigation commitments. This paper aims to inform these discussions by: (1) outlining and describing the “menu” of national mitigation commitment types that Parties could undertake; and (2) assessing each commitment type based on how it drives measurable emissions reductions. Measurable emissions reductions are emissions reductions that can be measured, reported, and verified (MRV) in a transparent, consistent, comparable, complete, and accurate manner.

The objective of this paper is to help inform Parties of the advantages and disadvantages of different commitment types from the perspective of measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) of emissions and emissions reductions in order to facilitate the design of commitments that achieve measurable emissions reductions.

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