Improving the Transparency of Climate Action

Following the Paris Agreement, countries are now hard at work turning their climate commitments into concrete actions. The Paris Agreement set out a process for countries to strengthen their national climate plans every five years, starting before 2020. This regular cycle to review and improve climate action ensures that the Paris Agreement will serve as a dynamic, long-lasting accord that is responsive to the evolving understanding of the effectiveness of climate policies, shifts in technology, emerging economic opportunities and growing public support.

But the question remains: How will countries measure their progress and demonstrate they are achieving their goals?

It’s a difficult task, especially for resource-strapped developing nations, but a new initiative aims to make it easier. The Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT), launched today by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF); the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB); the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS); and ClimateWorks Foundation, will provide policymakers worldwide with the tools and support to measure, assess and publicly report the impacts of their climate actions. Working initially with 20 developing countries, ICAT will foster greater transparency, effectiveness, trust and ambition in implementing national climate policies worldwide, and help raise ambition by all countries over time.

The Challenge

As part of the Paris Agreement, all 195 countries decided to set legally binding provisions for preparing and transparently communicating their national climate plans (known as nationally determined contributions). Countries agreed to report on progress made to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as track the finance, technology and capacity-building support provided and received. All of this information will subsequently be subject to review by technical experts.

Collecting and sharing all of this information is no small feat. Significant time and resources are required to design or improve domestic monitoring, reporting and evaluation systems and create sound policies. Those challenges are ever-greater for developing nations that lack sufficient resources to collect relevant data. Yet the success of both the Paris Agreement and countries’ ability to fulfil transparency requirements under the Agreement hinges on whether countries have capacity to measure and assess the effectiveness of their climate policies.

How the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency Works

ICAT develops tools and provides support that will ultimately improve the availability and quality of data and enable countries to promote efficient, cost-effective policies.

The Initiative is taking a two-pronged strategy. First, ICAT is building a methodological framework for countries to transparently measure and assess the impacts of climate policies and actions. ICAT will help countries measure greenhouse gas emissions and sustainable development impacts such as health, jobs, air pollution, energy access, poverty reduction and more.

Second, ICAT will build expertise and capacity in developing countries by working closely with governments, public agencies, higher education institutions and civil society bodies. After mapping out relevant institutions and stakeholders within each beneficiary country, ICAT will support domestic capacity-building programmes by developing resources, organising trainings and creating opportunities for knowledge sharing and lessons learned among countries. Going forward, ICAT plans to deepen its work in the initial 20 countries and expand its geographical coverage, as additional financial resources become available.

Through methodology development and capacity building, ICAT will help countries improve their technical and institutional abilities to regularly measure and assess greenhouse gas emissions and other sustainable development impacts resulting from planned and implemented policies. Doing so will support more informed, effective and efficient policymaking that best meets national climate change and sustainable development objectives.

Transparency is important for credibility and trust not only in the national context, but also in the international arena. ICAT along with other initiatives working on strengthening climate transparency will help enable the international community to determine the trajectory of global emissions and identify additional actions needed to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate change. This greater understanding will bolster arguments for individual countries to raise the ambition of their nationally determined contributions and achieve the level of climate action the world needs.

To help shape the methodological framework and learn how it might support your own work, please take a moment to complete this short questionnaire. We are working to ensure our initiative is as effective as possible, and this survey is a key part of that process. We look forward to hearing your perspectives and continuing the conversation.