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Toward robust and transparent reporting: Governments of Austria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo meet to exchange knowledge on greenhouse gas reporting


Representatives from Austria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo gathered in Vienna to share good practices and lessons learned on meeting reporting requirements under the Enhanced Transparency Framework of the Paris Agreement. The meeting was organized as part of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

 As the urgency to tackle the current climate crisis is growing, countries are getting ready to report on their national greenhouse gas inventories (GHGIs) under the Katowice Rulebook adopted at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24). For many countries, and especially for developing countries with emerging economies and the least developed countries, the new requirements will include major institutional reforms to ensure that reporting against the qualitative standards set by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is accurate and transparent.

While accounting for anthropogenic emissions and removals corresponding to their nationally determined contributions, countries are required to promote environmental integrity, transparency, accuracy, completeness, comparability and consistency, and ensure the avoidance of double counting. Considering that all Parties under the Paris Agreement will eventually move towards a unified reporting process, it is very timely to see that countries are increasingly exchanging knowledge and good practices on how to make the process smooth and efficient. In this context, representatives from the governments of Austria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo met in Vienna to discuss the opportunities and challenges of the UNFCCC reporting process, as well as to share their knowledge and expertise on the way forward. The meeting was held on 7 - 10 July as part of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which are currently being implemented by FAO.

Austria has a long history of reporting to the UNFCCC. The country started reporting activities in 1979 after a European Agreement was signed to take action against Acid Rain (UNECE Convention). Since 1994, Austria has been submitting reports to the UNFCCC convention, under which the Kyoto Protocol was developed in 2008 to reduce GHG emissions to combat global warming. Austria is also a leader in GHG inventory reporting. Its Environment Agency, Umweltbundesamt, is also one of the agencies mandated to compile the GHG reports for the European Union.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is located in the Congo Basin, and is the second largest forest carbon reservoir in the world. The country is an African leader on REDD+, having already submitted their national Forest Reference Level and three National Communications. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is now in the process of submitting its first Biennial Update Report.

The two countries discussed good practices and shared experiences related to the annual submission of GHG inventories and tracking the progress on Biennial (Update) Reports (B(U)Rs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), including discussion of institutional arrangements and national systems for regular reporting to the UNFCCC, data management systems and methodologies used in the LULUCF and agriculture sector and the Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC)s.

The participants agreed that reports should be gradually improved through the promotion of open exchanges about data, methodologies and GHG results with neighbouring countries. In addition, developing (non-Annex I) countries can apply lessons learned from the institutional set-ups and historical efforts already made by developed (Annex I) countries.


Next steps

Countries should aim for their reporting to be as transparent and as complete as possible and to move towards higher tier methodologies and country-specific data over time, thus improving the accuracy of the data. Specifically for LULUCF, historical data on land use are extremely important to account for historical land use changes and long term carbon stock fluxes that spread over an average of 20 years.

Many developing countries have to deal with data gaps, and the experience of data gap filling in developed countries is to use surrogate data or expert judgement for simple extrapolation and interpolation regardless of the associated random uncertainties, instead of reporting incomplete information.

As countries need to speed up the process of setting up their reporting systems, knowledge exchanges become an important tool to ensure their quality and timely delivery. The exchange between Austria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo not only contributed to the technical capacities of the two countries, but also fostered a collaborative environment for possible future projects.



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