Real transparency is the cornerstone of the Paris Agreement

Reading time: 4 minutes
12 December 2017

Jean-Charles Seghers, Head of Climate Transparency, The Climate Group, explains how the success of the Paris Agreement relies on solid measurement capacity – and the pivotal role of the Under2 Coalition in achieving this.

There is no doubt that the historic climate deal made in Paris, now two years ago, is a milestone in the global fight against climate change.

But for the Paris Agreement to be successfully implemented around the world, applying a robust transparency mechanism is crucial.

Without effective transparency, the global community will be unable to measure its collective progress towards meeting a goal of well below 2 degrees Celsius.

The Paris Agreement explicitly recognizes this fact in article 13 of the text itself, which points out how enhancing transparency helps build trust and mutual confidence between countries. According to the text, every Party to the convention must submit a national inventory of all greenhouse gases as well as information on progress towards achieving its national plan.

These national climate plans, or NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions), are at the heart of the Paris Agreement. They will be reviewed every five years and national governments are expected to gradually scale up ambition.

But this will prove difficult if we don’t help governments measure and report on their emissions. We need a mechanism to accurately calculate if we’re on track for a world of under 2°C of global warming – and in which sectors and regions additional efforts are urgently needed.

Under2 Coalition

That’s where the Under2 Coalition comes in. The Coalition brings together 205 jurisdictions from 43 countries representing 1.3 billion people and almost 40% of the global economy, who have committed to limit their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80-95% on 1990 levels, or to 2 annual metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per capita, by 2050.

The Coalition supports its signatories in strengthening their GHG emissions accounting capacity, increasing transparent disclosure of their climate change mitigation progress, and solving the most challenging sectoral accounting challenges.

For government members of the Coalition, a robust understanding of their region-wide emissions is essential to raising public awareness of climate change – and functions as the backbone of their climate plans. It is also an essential element for supporting their national government with improving their national GHG inventories and the implementation and expansion of their NDCs.

The Under2 Coalition, which The Climate Group acts as Secretariat to, helps regions in developing and newly industrialized countries better understand the mitigation opportunities by improving and expanding measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of GHG emissions and undertaking MRV of mitigation actions where sufficiently robust GHG inventories are in place.

The Climate Group also partners with CDP to incentivize states and regions to disclose their GHG emissions, climate targets and actions on an annual basis – and each year together we publish a Disclosure Report providing a transparent and global picture of state and regional climate ambition and progress towards their targets.

States and Regions setting the example

As this year’s Disclosure Report shows, the number of state and regional governments committed to transparency continues to grow year-on-year, with 110 governments now disclosing their climate data and actions in 2017 – a 60% increase since 2016.

Together these governments represent US$13.4 trillion in GDP, which is equivalent to 18% of the global economy and 658 million citizens.

The 2017 update also shows that disclosing states and regions are in general more ambitious than their national counterparts. Their short-term ambition is also compatible with a 2 degree world.

Data from the report shows:

  • Sub-national governments took 80% more climate actions in 2017 across ten sectors, including buildings, energy, transport and land use.
  • On average, there was an 8.5% reduction in GHG emissions compared to the state and regional governments’ base years.
  • Six sub-national governments, including Lombardy in Italy, Carinthia in Austria and Wallonia in Belgium have already met or exceeded their 2020 climate targets

The right tools

Our work to help data power more insight and meaningful action does not stop here.

Together with the support of Climate-KIC Low Carbon City Lab and CDP, The Climate Group also developed not one, but two of the world’s first analytics tools dedicated to the work of states and regions.

The first is a public tool launched last month, called the States and Regions Climate Tracker. This is designed to support decision-making and improve emissions management for sub-national governments. It features data from over 100 state and regional governments, including their emission reduction, renewable energy, energy efficiency targets and climate actions. Users can explore visualizations showing emissions pathways, targets and climate actions.

Our second new tool is the Sub-National Climate Analytics Navigator, which is available to disclosing governments. Users can access data from over 100 states and regions to support their inventory development, target setting and GHG reduction. This pioneering tool will enable governments to benchmark climate data across their peers.

Beyond the Coalition, The Climate Group is also a supporting partner for the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency, and contributes to The Non-State and Subnational Action Guidance. The Guidance will facilitate the impacts of non-state and sub-national action (i.e., states and regions, cities, businesses, sectors) into national GHG projections and mitigation assessments.

We call on governments to accelerate transformational climate action by joining our work on transparency and committing to the Under2 Coalition


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