The challenges of monitoring national climate policy: learning lessons from the EU

New research by Tyndall Centre authors, published today in Climate Policy, shows that the long term success of the Paris Agreement depends on the availability of well-designed and functioning monitoring and review mechanisms.

In a blog post following the publication of the research, the authors commented that "The EU has one of the most advanced climate policy monitoring systems in the world – but it still encounters persistent challenges that, crucially, could jeopardize the implementation of the Paris Agreement if these challenges persist within the EU and potentially also in other countries and regions. We show that the EU’s current approach to monitoring climate policies – largely borrowed from monitoring greenhouse gases, which is a vastly different task – has not supported in depth learning and debate on the performance of individual policies.".
Jonas J. Schoenefeld, Mikael Hildén & Andrew J. Jordan
One of the most central and novel features of the new climate governance architecture emerging from the 2015 Paris Agreement is the transparency framework committing countries to provide, inter alia, regular progress reports on national pledges to address climate change. Many countries will rely on public policies to turn their pledges into action. This article focuses on the EU’s experience with monitoring national climate policies in order to understand the challenges that are likely to arise as the Paris Agreement is implemented around the world. To do so, the research employs – for the first time – comparative empirical data submitted by states to the EU’s monitoring system. Our findings reveal how the EU’s predominantly technical interpretation of four international reporting quality criteria – an approach borrowed from reporting on GHG fluxes – has constrained knowledge production and stymied debate on the performance of individual climate policies. Key obstacles to more in-depth reporting include not only political concerns over reporting burdens and costs, but also struggles over who determines the nature of climate policy monitoring, the perceived usefulness of reporting information, and the political control that policy knowledge inevitably generates. Given the post-Paris drive to achieve greater transparency, the EU’s experience offers a sobering reminder of the political and technical challenges associated with climate policy monitoring, challenges that are likely to bedevil the Paris Agreement for decades to come.



Image Credit: "Paris!" by Laurent Ribot is licensed under CC BY ND 2.0

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