Shining the Light on Climate Action: The Role of Non-party Institutions

Fixing Climate Governance Series Paper No. 6

September 7, 2017

Article 13 of the Paris Agreement establishes a transparency mechanism to enhance the parties’ trust in the UN climate regime. But many states at present lack the institutional capacity to fully carry out their obligations under the Paris Agreement.

The differences in their domestic capacities have influenced how parties have approached negotiations on transparency. Developed countries demand the same rules for everyone; many developing countries seek differential treatment in reporting, assessments and reviews.

The authors examine how parties might encourage non-party stakeholders to supplement state efforts toward transparency and accountability and make their participation a more formal and legitimate part of the new transparency mechanism. Parties might achieve these aims by investing in these stakeholders’ capacity to report on emissions and financial flows, developing common standards for country assessments and giving the stakeholders a greater role in the review process.

A greater role for non-party stakeholders in climate reporting, developing national inventories and engaging in cross-country technical assessments would also create the conditions for their greater participation, as observers and advisers, during the review meetings.

Part of Series

Fixing Climate Governance Series

Climate scientists agree that human activity has been changing our planet’s climate over the long term. Without serious policy changes, scientists expect devastating consequences in many regions: inundation of coastal cities; greater risks to food production and, hence, malnutrition; unprecedented heat waves; greater risk of high-intensity cyclones; many climate refugees; and irreversible loss of biodiversity. Some international relations scholars expect increased risk of violent conflicts over scarce resources and due to state breakdown. Environmentalists have been campaigning for effective policy changes for more than two decades. The world’s governments have been negotiating since 1995 as parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) . Their 2015 Paris Agreement created a new regime for joint action; among other things, it is the first UN climate agreement to oblige all parties to make some contribution. Each party made a pledge pertaining to the period 2020 to 2025 or 2030. But it is widely agreed that if they are all implemented, together these 2015 pledges will still fall far short of what is needed to meet the collective goals and avoid widespread catastrophes. Important details of the Paris Agreement itself also remain to be negotiated. Nor is the UNFCCC the whole of international climate governance. Many initiatives have also been launched by smaller sets of countries, national governments, provinces, cities, civil society, and private investors and companies.   This project was designed to generate improved ideas for both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process and other possible sites of climate governance. In 2015, we published nine policy briefs and papers, which can be found below. The ideas in two of them appeared in Paris during COP21. Several offered original recommendations for more effective action outside the UNFCCC. A new series of publications appeared in 2016-2017.  

About the Authors

Arunabha Ghosh is the CEO of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, one of South Asia’s leading think tanks. He has work experience in 36 countries and previously worked at Princeton University, the University of Oxford, the United Nations Development Programme in New York and the World Trade Organization in Geneva.

Sumit S. Prasad is a research analyst at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the lead author of CEEW’s recent publications entitled “Enhanced Transparency Framework in the Paris Agreement: Perspective of Parties” and “Shaping Global Stocktake Process under the Paris Agreement.” His research areas include climate change monitoring, evaluation and governance; environmental, social and governance analysis; and energy efficiency.