Monitoring Touted to Keep Climate Deal on Track

(CN) – Credible monitoring and strong international commitment are crucial to the ultimate success of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the United Nations’ ability to hold nations to their pledged carbon emission reductions.

In a recently published study, researchers analyzed the European Union’s experience monitoring national climate policies, pointing out how the successes and failures can be used to establish an effective approach for holding nations accountable for their role in the Paris climate agreement – a U.N. treaty that aims to keep global warming below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial average temperatures.

While the EU has one of the most advanced monitoring systems in the world, it still encounters consistent challenges that, if applied toward the Paris Agreement, could jeopardize the implementation of the treaty.

“An important part of the implementation of the Paris Agreement will hinge on whether political actors can muster the leadership in order to successfully navigate monitoring challenges at the international level,” said lead author Jonas Schoenefeld. “The EU’s experience shows that incorporating policies into NDCs (nationally determined contributions) should be seen as one step in a long journey to better knowledge of climate policies.”

The team said that maintaining global trust and improving monitoring will be important steps toward fulfilling pledges outlined in the Paris Agreement, pointing to political concerns about the costs of reporting and limited in-depth analysis and debate on the performance of individual policies as hurdles to overcome.

“Implementing more advanced monitoring at the international level will require substantial political efforts, resources, and leadership,” said study co-author Tyndall Centre. “In order to justify such investments to the public, care needs to be taken to ensure that monitoring information is used effectively to improve policy, rather than as a weapon to lay blame when things slip.”

The Paris Agreement was originally adopted on Dec. 12, 2015, signed by a record 193 nations. It took effect a few months later after nations representing more than 55 percent of the world’s carbon emissions approved their commitments domestically.

Despite widespread support for implementing the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, the treaty’s ultimate success relies on nations following their pledges and remaining committed long-term.

President-elect Donald Trump pledged during his campaign that he would “cancel” the United States’ involvement in the Paris Agreement, a scenario that would significantly undermine goals outlined in the treaty as the nation accounts for 17.9 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“A key strength of the Paris Agreement is that so many countries are part of it and are willing to engage,” Schoenefeld said. “Disengagement or even withdrawal could therefore imperil the whole agreement and have grave ramifications for the set-up of a strong monitoring system.”