To meaningfully address the mounting impacts of the climate crisis, humanity must bolster transparency and accountability at all levels, including in pledges from non-state actors (NSAs), according to a new UNEP report.
As the world contends with increasing extreme climate events, such as droughts, floods and wildfires, NSAs can play a critical role in strengthening climate action, experts say. However, their role in national climate efforts remains largely undocumented, according to the UNEP report, prepared with support from the UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre and Danish think tank Concito.
The Strengthening Transparency Of Non-State Actors report evaluates national transparency efforts to suggest how to better integrate NSA actions into countries’ policies under the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) of the Paris Agreement. This can ensure stronger climate action and build trust and confidence among Member States.
“In the ongoing battle against climate change, it is becoming increasingly evident that non-state actors, including non-governmental organizations, businesses, cities and local communities, have significant potential to strengthen and support national climate efforts,” said John Christensen, Director of the UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre and lead author of the report. “Regrettably, there is a real gap between national efforts under the Enhanced Transparency Framework and the actual contributions of NSAs.
“With better integration in national efforts, NSAs can actively respond to government policies, link and strengthen their own climate strategies – including specific emission reduction targets – bolster technical expertise and capacity, and aid in the local execution of national policy objectives.”
Join a UNEP and UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre-led webinar on 16 November from 3–4 pm CET to discover findings and recommendations of two recent UN reports on how to strengthen climate action by non-state actors. Click here for more information.
Enhancing transparency and credibility
The foundation of the global climate regime lies in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, primarily through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The credibility of this international accord hinges on countries’ ability to fulfill their obligations, document results transparently, and report progress effectively.
However, not all commitments are subject to the same criteria and benchmarks, allowing certain actors, such as fossil fuel companies, to make incomplete pledges that UN Secretary-General António Guterres decried earlier this year as “rank deception” and a “toxic cover-up”.
The ETF therefore plays a pivotal role in documenting climate action and monitoring individual countries’ progress to ultimately drive increased collective ambition under the Paris Agreement.
Strengthening Transparency Of Non-State Actors aims to help bolster connections between NSAs and the ETF. NSA commitments – including credible annual disclosures of greenhouse gas data, standardization of methods and protocols, independent verification – are critical to addressing the climate crisis. Linking these to ETF standards enhances these pledges’ credibility and stimulates greater action and ambition from both governments and NSAs, experts say.
By analysing how transparency efforts have evolved under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and what can be learned from this process, the report highlights the need to build on a sound scientific foundation, maintain strong monitoring, reporting, and verification efforts, and enhance capacity for actors who may lack the capability to participate. Achieving these ambitions requires participation from all stakeholders, according to the report.