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MRV

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The international climate deal reached in Durban, South Africa last December marked an important milestone in designing a system for measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) of countries’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions-reductions efforts. In 2014, all countries will submit verifiable biennial reports with information on their GHG emissions, actions to reduce emissions, and support received or provided to other countries for emissions reductions. The Conference of the Parties (COP) also strengthened guidelines for developed countries’ (Annex I) GHG inventories, an important milestone for building trust among all countries.

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As the U.N. climate change conference in Doha, Qatar (COP 18) rapidly approaches, the urgency of climate action has never been more evident. Extreme weather has wreaked havoc in many corners of the globe, most recently with Hurricane Sandy, which resulted in loss of life and severe economic hardship in all the countries in its pathway. Many countries—from the United States to those with far less capacity to respond—are still trying to comprehend what happened and how much it will cost to get back to normal.

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In an effort to ensure that the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) generates meaningful outcomes, governments and other stakeholders increasingly support using the Conference to announce specific and time-bound commitments, and to agree on a “framework” to hold each other accounta

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The Durban climate deal reached in December 2011 marked an important milestone in the design of a system to measure, report, and verify (MRV) countries’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their actions to reduce them. The deal succeeded in making the MRV system operational. However, the text still falls short on several important issues that WRI outlined before the meeting. In this post, we review the main MRV elements of the Durban deal.

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The UNFCCC’s ultimate goal is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a “level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” Thus, the most compelling measure of success of the Durban climate negotiations is arguably its ability to secure an adequate level of collective ambition on the part of countries. In this post, we review how well the Durban decisions can help reach this goal.

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In the recent UN climate negotiations (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, the issue of transparency of climate finance appeared in a variety of contexts in the final agreement on long-term cooperative action. From the sections on reporting and review for developed and developing countries, to the Standing Committee, to the registry, and to fast-start finance, making sense of this multitude of provisions on climate finance transparency is a challenge.

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Three years ago, I attended a performance of Athol Fugard’s powerful play “My Children! My Africa!” Set in South Africa at the end of apartheid, the play deals with a conflict over the most effective means to address a great injustice. Throughout the play, there are signs of progress but it’s slow and it’s hard-won. The protagonists struggle to reconcile the growing demand for urgent change with the need to show patience with a fragile process. Sound familiar?

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Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Cancun Agreements, both Annex I and non–Annex I Parties have announced a diversity of mitigation targets and actions respectively for emissions reduction by 2020.

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Though forests play an essential role in international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the development of systems to monitor deforestation and forest degradation has been slow. This is due to the demanding technical requirements and the large capacity gaps in many countries. Measuring and monitoring change on the ground and via satellite in a consistent way is no easy task.

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You can’t manage what you can’t measure. This is one reason it is important to track countries’ individual and aggregate progress in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Next week, COP17 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban will mark an essential milestone in the design of an effective system to “measure, report, and verify” countries’ emissions, commitments, and actions. Known as “MRV,” this is one of the fundamental issues to watch in the negotiations.

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At the United Nations climate conference (COP17) in Durban, delegates will negotiate detailed decisions on measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV). In another post, we review the importance of MRV and the main decisions facing negotiators in Durban. As negotiators for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) consider new MRV mechanisms, they may not need to reinvent the wheel.

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The thousands of delegates preparing to descend on Durban for COP17 should read Robert F. Kennedy’s famous “Day of Affirmation” speech en route. They will discover a call to action as powerful today as it was almost half a century ago. They will also find sensible guidance on how to overcome the sense of drift that has gripped the climate negotiations for much of this past year. If they heed his call they may discover that African soils are not for burying the climate regime as some pessimists suggest, but rather for growing the seeds of its future success.

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If one thinks of the ongoing climate negotiations as a paint-by-numbers picture, the Cancun Agreements outlined what to paint and the basic colors to use. In last week’s Panama talks, Parties continued painting with various hues that, once complete, will hopefully create a detailed and beautiful picture. The painting does not yet have a frame, however, as the Parties still have to decide on what kind of “agreed outcome” the negotiations are leading to – i.e., a legally binding agreement or a non-binding one. At the same time the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ends in 2012, which adds complexity but also opportunity to the picture.

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