The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change employs a system of national communications and greenhouse gas inventories to monitor implementation of the Convention. This analysis examines the strengths and weaknesses of that system in the context of a post-2012 international climate change agreement, considering the Bali Action Plan provisions on measurement, reporting, and verification. It concludes that while the existing system contains elements that can support some parts of a post-2012 framework, a significant retrofit, accompanied by new processes, will be needed to measure, report, and verify the obligations envisioned in the Bali Action Plan.

Executive Summary

Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed in the Bali Action Plan to consider a set of “measurable, reportable, and verifiable” (MRV) responsibilities: nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions by all developed country parties; nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) by developing country parties; and technology, finance, and capacity-building support for those actions (see Box 1). These commitments, actions, and support would form the core of parties’ mitigation responsibilities under a post-2012 international climate change agreement, and the requirement that they be undertaken in a measurable, reportable, and verifiable manner suggests a level of specificity and significance beyond previous obligations under the UNFCCC. Taken together, measurability, reportability, and verifiability have implications for how obligations are defined, how they are financed and implemented, and how parties evaluate each other’s delivery on those obligations, making the concept of MRV a critical source of credibility and effectiveness in a post-2012 agreement.