Home to around 1.4 billion people and covering a vast expanse across Asia, China is a diverse country with a complex climate characterized by a monsoon zone in the East, an arid Northwest region and alpine-like weather along the Tibetan plateau.
With these different climate conditions come differing challenges: the concentrated rain of a monsoon can cause floods, storms and typhoons; the lack of surface water in a continental dry climate could lead to a fragile environment; and the frequent sub-zero temperatures of the Tibetan plateau create gales and frost.
On the global front, China ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016. This was followed in-country with the coordinated efforts by national, regional and industrial institutions to tackle the global challenge of climate change.
“Addressing climate change is a shared mission of mankind. Considering its basic national circumstances and the characteristics of its development stage, China is vigorously promoting eco-civilization, and executing a national strategy for actively addressing climate change by integrating climate change into its medium- and long-term [sic] national socio-economic development planning and by attaching equal importance to mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, and trying to accelerate green and low-carbon development by actively controlling GHG emissions and enhancing climate change adaptation capability,” stated China’s 3rd national communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), published in 2018.
China partnered with ICAT in 2019, with the aim of tackling some specific gaps and challenges to implement the enhanced transparency framework under the Paris Agreement.
Dr Henning Wuester, ICAT Director, explained that transparency was at the heart of the Paris Agreement. Based on Article 13 of the Agreement, all countries that ratified the Agreement were required to submit biennial transparency reports every two years and track the progress of their NDC implementation.
“Transparency is an opportunity for evidence-based policymaking. Sound data and transparency provide: the basis for designing policies and measures, including NDC targets and effective policies that enable NDC implementation; the foundation for turning policies into reality, by mobilizing resources and engaging stakeholders; and the basis for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of NDCs in order to further strengthen them when they are next updated,” he said.
One of the project’s deliverables was a gap analysis and recommendation report on improving a monitoring, reporting and validation (MRV) system for non-CO2 emissions, with a focus on methane. This deliverable became very important politically after China and the United States pledged at the Glasgow COP to cooperate to enhance the measurement of methane gas emissions.
An improved MRV can enhance data collection, provide solid basis for policy making, and lead to more effective methane emission reductions. A tonne of methane is equivalent to 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide in terms of global warming. If methane levels are reduced, it will have a powerful effect on reducing the impact of climate change, and as a short-lived pollutant, these impacts show more quickly. There are additional benefits to reducing methane emissions as it is a precursor to tropospheric ozone, an air pollutant which can have serious health impacts.
In addition to the work on enhancing MRV systems for methane, the project has also delivered two other important elements: A gap analysis of the Paris Agreement transparency rules, followed by proposed institutional arrangements to fill these gaps, and a handbook for officials and experts to understand MPGs; and a scoping study on the transition from the 1996 to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. The study included identifying new sources of emissions and data collection mechanisms that need to be established.
Find out more about ICAT’s work in China here.
Photo by Robert Nyman on Unsplash
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