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03 Dec 2015

Day 4 – how will emissions be measured?


Early this morning, a new draft text was presented, which could lead spectators to think significant progress is being made. However, still at 50 pages, a lot more is going to be required in terms of simplification. That COP21 President, Laurent Fabius, intervened last night to set out his views on the state of negotiations and the steps required to help parties progress, suggests concern is mounting. Recent accusations from China and India that rich nations are trying to avoid their commitments in funding poor countries to cope with climate change, demonstrates that there are still huge obstacles to overcome.


Another key issue for negotiators is agreeing on the monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions. This is a contentious issue, as although countries are keen to compare their progress and monitor effectiveness to ensure emissions are heading in the right direction, there is a resistance to extensive scrutiny and the associated burden. Of course, to be able to effectively assess the efforts of each country, a robust system is required. The draft agreement is still vague in terms of the “transparency framework” it aims to create. Although it isn’t necessary to finalise the details in Paris, and they will not be as the draft agreement defers decision-making to a later date, it is important that the necessary mandate to put them in place is established in Paris.

There is also disagreement on which method to use in the measurement of emissions. The West would like to retain the system of the Kyoto Protocol, which assigns responsibility for emissions based on the territorial principle, i.e. countries are accountable for emissions occurring on their national territory. So as an example, when UK customers buy a car manufactured in China, the UK bears responsibility for the emissions occurring during the use of the car, whilst the emissions created during the car's production count towards China's figures. Conversely, emerging markets like China argue for a consumption-based system of emissions accounting. Taking the previous example, this would see the UK responsible for all emissions needed to produce the car also, on the basis that the UK is the end consumer. Ultimately, a compromise will be required as these represent two extremes, to which either the West or emerging countries would never agree.

The LPAA Focus talks continued today with a session dedicated to transport and how transport emissions are impacting climate change. Next week our blogs will include an analysis of COP21 from the perspective of some of the main transport industries, including rail, shipping and aviation.


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