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Measuring progress towards the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement

The Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), agreed in December 2015, will come into force in November following today’s vote of the European Parliament, which agreed to ratification by the European Union.

With this vote, preceded by clear commitments regarding ratification, acceptance, approval or accession by the US, China, India and other countries, the two conditions for the entry into force of the Agreement, a minimum of 55 countries accounting for at least 55% of world’s greenhouse gas emissions, are met. 

When entering into force next month on the occasion of COP-22 in Marrakech, the Paris agreement   will oblige governments across the world to take stronger action to address climate change and its impacts, including making larger reductions in emissions, adapting better to the impacts of climate change and providing financial and technological support to developing countries to enable them to take action as well. All these aspects will need to be measured using reliable data and statistics – an area where UNECE is actively engaging with governments.

Countries will need better tools to monitor progress towards the new climate targets, defined in the nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. Climate reporting requires data on a wide range of issues, such as emissions in agriculture, energy, industry and other sectors, vulnerable populations, disaster risks, regional impacts of climate change, etc.

Energy production and consumption, for instance, are the largest generators of global greenhouse gas emissions and form a critical component of all climate-related policies. Energy and climate change are core considerations in UNECE work, which currently focuses on challenges with data on greenhouse gas emissions originating from energy production and consumption, as well as on energy efficiency, energy use and security.

UNECE is addressing climate change on several fronts. We lead an international expert group that is finalizing a set of key indicators based on the UNECE Recommendations on Climate Change-Related Statistics, published a few years ago. Once the expert group finishes compiling the set of indicators, work may continue on a global scale to enable consistent monitoring of climate change and its impacts across countries.

Further, a UNECE expert network is putting the finishing touches on road maps to help countries to develop their official statistics and tailor them to respond to the needs of greenhouse gas emission inventories, climate analysis and disaster risk reduction. Reliable statistics can offer an indispensable source of objective information for the often heated climate discussions.

Finally, statisticians, meteorologists, climate experts and academics will meet on 5-7 October at the second UNECE Expert Forum for producers and users of climate change-related statistics to discuss how to ensure the availability of high-quality data to measure progress towards the targets agreed in the Paris climate agreement.

The meeting programme is available at www.unece.org/stats/documents/2016.10.climate.html