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Assessing state compliance with multilateral climate transparency requirements: 'Transparency Adherence Indices' and their research and policy implications

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Transparency is increasingly central to multilateral climate governance. In this article, we undertake one of the first systematic assessments of the nature and extent of compliance with transparency requirements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Extensive resources are now being devoted to setting up national and international transparency systems that aim to render visible what individual countries are doing with regard to climate change. It is widely assumed that such transparency is vital to securing accountability, trust and thereby also enhanced climate actions from all. Yet, whether transparency lives up to this transformative promise remains largely unexamined. We generate a first systematic overview here of the nature and extent of country engagement with and adherence to UNFCCC transparency requirements. Drawing on extensive primary documents, including national reports and technical expert assessments of these reports, we generate ‘Transparency Adherence Indices’ for developed and developing country Parties to the UNFCCC. Our results reveal wide variations in adherence to mandatory reporting requirements and no clear general pattern of improvement since 2014. Our Indices help to illustrate trends and highlight knowledge gaps around the observed adherence patterns. This is timely since the 2015 Paris Agreement calls for an ‘enhanced transparency framework’ to be implemented by 2024 that builds on existing UNFCCC transparency systems. We conclude with identifying a research and policy agenda to help explain observed patterns of adherence, and emphasize the need for continued scrutiny of assumed links between transparency and climate action. Key policy insights • The UNFCCC and its 2015 Paris Agreement call for ever greater climate transparency from all countries. • We develop ‘Transparency Adherence Indices’ that reveal frequency of engagement and adherence to reporting requirements of both developed and developing countries. • Our findings reveal high engagement in transparency arrangements by developed countries and variable engagement from developing countries. • We question what variable adherence to reporting requirements actually signifies, given how such adherence is assessed within UNFCCC technical expert reports. • Further research to explain the range of observed adherence patterns is important, in light of the Paris Agreement’s requirements for enhanced transparency from all. • The assumed link between enhanced transparency and climate action needs further analysis.
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SYNTHESIS ARTICLE
Assessing state compliance with multilateral climate transparency
requirements: Transparency Adherence Indicesand their research and
policy implications
Romain Weikmans
a
and Aarti Gupta
b
a
Université Libre de Bruxelles/Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium;
b
Wageningen University and Research,
Wageningen, The Netherlands
ABSTRACT
Transparency is increasingly central to multilateral climate governance. In this article,
we undertake one of the rst systematic assessments of the nature and extent of
compliance with transparency requirements under the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Extensive resources are now being
devoted to setting up national and international transparency systems that aim to
render visible what individual countries are doing with regard to climate change. It
is widely assumed that such transparency is vital to securing accountability, trust
and thereby also enhanced climate actions from all. Yet, whether transparency
lives up to this transformative promise remains largely unexamined. We generate a
rst systematic overview here of the nature and extent of country engagement
with and adherence to UNFCCC transparency requirements. Drawing on extensive
primary documents, including national reports and technical expert assessments of
these reports, we generate Transparency Adherence Indicesfor developed and
developing country Parties to the UNFCCC. Our results reveal wide variations in
adherence to mandatory reporting requirements and no clear general pattern of
improvement since 2014. Our Indices help to illustrate trends and highlight
knowledge gaps around the observed adherence patterns. This is timely since the
2015 Paris Agreement calls for an enhanced transparency frameworkto be
implemented by 2024 that builds on existing UNFCCC transparency systems. We
conclude with identifying a research and policy agenda to help explain observed
patterns of adherence, and emphasize the need for continued scrutiny of assumed
links between transparency and climate action.
Key policy insights:
.The UNFCCC and its 2015 Paris Agreement call for ever greater climate
transparency from all countries.
.We develop Transparency Adherence Indicesthat reveal frequency of engagement
and adherence to reporting requirements of both developed and developing
countries.
.Our ndings reveal high engagement in transparency arrangements by developed
countries and variable engagement from developing countries.
.We question what variable adherence to reporting requirements actually signies,
given how such adherence is assessed within UNFCCC technical expert reports.
.Further research to explain the range of observed adherence patterns is important,
in light of the Paris Agreements requirements for enhanced transparency from all.
.The assumed link between enhanced transparency and climate action needs
further analysis.
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 4 July 2020
Accepted 19 February 2021
KEYWORDS
Transparency; climate
governance; United Nations
Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC);
Paris Agreement; enhanced
transparency framework;
compliance
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.
org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and
is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
CONTACT Aarti Gupta aarti.gupta@wur.nl
Supplemental data for this article can be accessed https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2021.1895705.
CLIMATE POLICY
2021, VOL. 21, NO. 5, 635651
https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2021.1895705
1. Introduction
The Paris Agreement was adopted to great acclaim by governments in 2015. It requires all states who have
ratied it Parties to the agreement to specify voluntary climate commitments, in line with their national
circumstances and the level of ambition they see t (UNFCCC, 2015). One of the few legally binding obligations
in the Paris Agreement is for Parties to be transparent to each other about their progress in meeting their volun-
tary commitments. Transparency is thus increasingly central to multilateral climate governance. In recent years,
extensive nancial and human resources have been devoted to setting up national and international transpar-
ency systems to render visible what individual countries are doing. The assumption is that such transparency is
vital to keeping countries informed about each others climate intentions and actions, thereby enhancing
accountability, mutual trust and ultimately, more ambitious climate actions from all (e.g. CEW, 2018). Yet,
whether transparency lives up to this transformative promise remains an open question (Fox, 2007; Gupta,
2010; Gupta & van Asselt, 2019; Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al., 2018).
Current transparency arrangements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) consist of reporting and review cycles that link national and international levels. Countries are
called upon to regularly report on, inter alia, their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the actions taken to
reduce those emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Developed countries are also required
to report on international support nancial and technical provided to developing countries to help the latter
implement the Convention.
Yet, what are these elaborate transparency arrangements delivering? There is mainly anecdotal evidence and
grey literature examining this so far (e.g. Briner & Moarif, 2016; Dagnet et al., 2017; Elliott et al., 2017; Niederberger
& Kimble, 2011). Even the nature and extent of engagement with UNFCCC transparency processes remains little
examined (exceptions include Briner & Moarif, 2016; Ellis & Moarif, 2015; Pulles, 2017). There remains an implicit or
explicit assumption that UNFCCC transparency will help to stimulate enhanced climate action and increased
ambition (see e.g. Deprez et al., 2015; Falkner, 2016; Jacquet & Jamieson, 2016; Streck et al., 2016; for a cautionary
tale, see e.g. Weikmans et al., 2020). However, it is dicult to meaningfully assess these oft-assumed links between
transparency, accountability, trust and ambition, without knowing if countries are actually being transparent i.e.
whether they are participating in UNFCCC reporting cycles and adhering to reporting requirements.
In this article, we undertake one of the rst systematic assessments of country engagement with current
UNFCCC transparency arrangements. Our focus is on the most recent processes, agreed in 2010 and being
implemented since 2014. These transparency processes require countries to generate Biennial (Update)
Reports, which are then subject to an internationally-coordinated process of technical expert review and/or
analysis. In assessing engagement with these transparency processes, we identify patterns of participation,
including frequency of reporting and adherence to reporting requirements. We capture these patterns in Trans-
parency Adherence Indicesthat we develop. These Indices provide an important starting point for continued
in-depth analyses of what UNFCCC transparency arrangements are helping to shed light on, and the potential
consequences for enhanced accountability, trust and increased ambition in multilateral climate governance.
Such an analysis is particularly timely, given that the 2015 Paris Agreement calls for an enhanced transpar-
ency frameworkto be implemented in 2024, which is intended to build on lessons learned from implemen-
tation of current UNFCCC transparency arrangements. A key dierence between current requirements and
the Paris Agreements enhanced transparency framework is that the latter will be applicable to all Parties
1
,
while current arrangements specify dierent (and less stringent) transparency requirements for developing
versus developed country Parties (Weikmans et al., 2020; Winkler et al., 2017). Yet, adherence by Parties
even to these pre-Paris dierentiated transparency requirements remains both uneven and unevenly under-
stood. Thus, it is important and timely to consider trends and patterns in adherence to transparency require-
ments by both developed and developing country Parties.
We proceed as follows: Section 2 briey describes current UNFCCC transparency arrangements, and the
dierential reporting obligations that apply to developed versus developing country Parties. Section 3
details our data sources and data collection strategy, and methodology to generate our Transparency Adher-
ence Indices. We then present these indices (Section 4), and a related research and policy agenda (Section 5).
We conclude in Section 6.
636 R. WEIKMANS AND A. GUPTA
2. Transparency requirements under the UNFCCC
Transparency has long been a vital element of the global climate convention. Under the UNFCCC, each Party
has to regularly communicate how it is implementing the Convention (UNFCCC, 1992, article 12). There are
specic requirements regarding what information is to be reported, how and when. These reports are
subject to some form of international review and/or analysis. These transparency requirements have evolved
since adoption of the Convention in 1992, with the Paris Agreements enhanced transparency framework
being the latest iteration (for an historical overview, see Weikmans et al., 2020; Winkler et al., 2017).
As summarized in Table 1 below, current transparency arrangements under the UNFCCC are dierentiated
for developed country (Annex I) Parties and developing country (non-Annex I) Parties.
Under the UNFCCC, the nomenclature Annex I Partiesrefers to industrialized countries that were members
of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1992 when the Convention was
agreed, as well as countries with economies in transition. The categorization non-Annex I Partiesis used in
the UNFCCC context to refer to developing countries/non-OECD countries. Developed country (Annex I)
Parties are further sub-divided into two groups: so-called Annex IIParties (broadly, industrialized countries)
and other Annex IParties (broadly, countries with economies in transition). The main distinction in transpar-
ency requirements between these two sub-categories of developed country Parties is that Annex II countries
have the additional obligation to report on the support that they provide to developing countries, an obligation
that countries with economies in transition (other Annex I) do not have. For ease of reading, for the remainder
of this article we use the terms developed and developing country Parties to refer to Annex I and non-Annex I
countries respectively, except where we need to distinguish between the two sub-categories of developed
countries (in which case, we use the terminology of Annex II and other Annex I).
Dierentiated transparency requirements between developed and developing country Parties in the
UNFCCC have been the subject of much contestation over the years, reecting the reality that transparency
is not seen merely as a technical matter involving neutral reporting but is a site of political conict and nego-
tiation (Gupta & Mason, 2016; Gupta & van Asselt, 2019). In particular, developing countries have resisted calls
to increase their reporting obligations, and have their climate actions subject to international oversight. With
adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement, however, an enhanced transparency frameworknow applies to all
Parties (see e.g. Weikmans et al., 2020; Winkler et al., 2017).
Below, we describe further the current dierentiated transparency requirements for developed versus devel-
oping country Parties (focusing rst on reporting, and then on review), before assessing compliance with them
in subsequent sections.
2.1. Reporting
One of the rst transparency provisions in the UNFCCC is the requirement that all Parties submit regular
national reports, called National Communications (UNFCCC, 1992, article 12). Such reports are to contain infor-
mation on, among other things, national circumstances within which climate actions are contemplated, GHG
Table 1. Current dierentiated reporting and review processes under the UNFCCC.
Annex I (developed country) Parties Non-Annex I (developing country) Parties
Reporting .GHG inventory (shall be submitted every year)
.Biennial Report (shall be submitted every two
years)
.National Communications (shall be submitted
every four years)
.Biennial Update Report (should be submitted every two years except
for LDCs and SIDS, who can do so at their discretion)
.National Communications, including GHG inventory (should be
submitted every four years but submission is conditional on provision
of funding to cover cost of preparation)
Review .International assessment and review:
.Technical review of national GHG inventories,
Biennial Reports and National Communications
.Multilateral assessment
.International consultation and analysis:
.Technical analysis of Biennial Update Reports
.Facilitative sharing of views
Source: UNFCCC (1992,2010,2011,2013,2014).
CLIMATE POLICY 637
emissions, and mitigation and adaptation measures (UNFCCC, 1999). The National Communications of Annex II
Parties (the sub-category of developed country Parties with the obligation to provide support) have to include
information on support provided to developing country Parties.
National Communications of developing country Parties are to include information on constraints and gaps,
and related nancial, technical and capacity needs, although these reports are subject to less detailed guide-
lines than those from developed country Parties.
In addition to National Communications, all Parties to the UNFCCC are required to submit regular GHG
inventories, with developed country Parties required to do so annually (UNFCCC, 2013). Developing country
Parties are not required to submit separate national inventory reports but need to include results of their
GHG inventories in their National Communications.
Important changes to these longstanding transparency arrangements were adopted in 2010 and came into
force in 2014. These entailed additional reporting and international review/analysis processes for both devel-
oped and developing country Parties. These changes followed the new direction towards voluntary climate
action pledges from all, enshrined by the 2009 Copenhagen Accord and the 2010 Cancún Agreements
(UNFCCC, 2009, p. 2010). As per these latest arrangements, developed country Parties have to submit an
additional report, a Biennial Report (BR) starting in 2014 (UNFCCC, 2011). These Biennial Reports are to
contain information on progress in achieving emission reductions, mitigation actions and emissions
reductions achieved, projected emissions, and the provision of nancial, technical and capacity building
support. For developing country Parties, there is now a mandatory requirement to submit a Biennial
Update Report (BUR), with an encouragement to submit the rst one by 2014. Least Developed Countries
(LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) can submit their BURs at their discretion. The BURs of devel-
oping country Parties should include information on, among other things, national circumstances and insti-
tutional arrangements, GHG emissions, mitigation actions, and nancial, technical and capacity needs
(UNFCCC, 2011).
Thus, these new arrangements, being implemented since 2014 signal an important ramping up of transpar-
ency requirements from developing country Parties, compared to the earlier obligations relating to national
communications and GHG inventories.
2.2. Review
The National Communications submitted by developed country Parties are subject to regular international
reviews (for the current guidelines, see UNFCCC, 2014). These reviews are organized by the UNFCCC Secretariat
and are carried out by expert review teams, consisting of experts nominated by Parties and experts from inter-
governmental organizations. Expert review teams examine the information provided and assess progress made.
While the experts are more often than not government ocials, the review process is intended to be non-pol-
iticaland experts are to serve in their personal capacity. The reviews can be (i) desk-based, with experts review-
ing the information individually; (ii) centralized, with experts meeting up to review the information; and (iii) in-
country, with experts visiting the country under review. The review reports are made public, though the process
allows Parties to respond to the reports before their release. Since 2003, each national GHG inventory sub-
mission has also been subject to a technical expert review. Like the in-depth reviews of National Communi-
cations, these include desk-based reviews, centralized reviews and in-country visits (the latter at least once
every ve years). Review reports are also made publicly available. National Communications submitted by
developing country Parties are not subject to review.
These dierentiated review processes have also changed in the latest iteration of UNFCCC transparency
requirements, adopted in 2010 and being implemented since 2014. The newly required BRs from developed
country Parties are subject to a process of international assessment and review. This combines a technical
expert review with a state-to-state peer questioning process called multilateral assessment(see UNFCCC,
2011;2014). The technical expert review of the BRs resembles the review of National Communications and
GHG inventories described above. Experts can ask questions and request information from the Party being
reviewed, and oer suggestions and advice. The face-to-face multilateral assessment, organized under the aus-
pices of the UNFCCCs Subsidiary Body for Implementation, entails Parties asking each other questions about
638 R. WEIKMANS AND A. GUPTA
the information contained in their reports. Parties can also submit written questions in advance of these ses-
sions. The Multilateral Assessment is held in parallel with on-going political deliberations during annual meet-
ings of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, and is recorded. The Secretariat maintains a record of the
questions and answers and a summary report is made available on the UNFCCC website.
The newly required BURs from developing country Parties are subject to a slightly distinct process termed
international consultation and analysis(UNFCCC, 2011). This mirrors the two-step process of the international
assessment and review described above for developed country Parties, although the terminology varies. Thus,
the BURs are analysed (rather than reviewed) by a team of technical experts, in consultation with the concerned
Party, and Parties then participate in a facilitative exchange of views(rather than a multilateral assessment)
although the procedural elements are the same.
2
These dierences in terminology signal persisting political
contestation around whether or not transparency requirements should be distinct for developed and develop-
ing country Parties (Gupta et al., 2021).
3. Methodology
In assessing participation in reporting cycles (understood here as submitting BRs and BURs), we have relied on
information available on the UNFCCC website.
3
This information details which countries have submitted how
many of these reports and when. For the second aspect, adherence to reporting requirements, we use as our
primary data source the summary assessments of adherence contained in the technical reviews of BRs and
technical analyses of BURs undertaken under the UNFCCC. These expert reports are available on the
UNFCCC website.
4
We use these technical reviews/analyses of BRs/BURs as our primary data source
because assessing adherence with UNFCCC reporting requirements is an enormous task requiring consider-
able resources. By one recent estimate (Pulles, 2017), the technical review of developed country Parties
annual GHG emission inventories alone required about 4000 working days per year. We were not able to
nd any comprehensive gures on the total time devoted to conducting the technical review of developed
country PartiesNational Communications and BRs and the technical analysis of developing country Parties
BURs. Nonetheless, the resources spent on conducting these technical reviews and analyses are signicant.
Yet, these existing assessments of adherence (as contained in these expert reports, described further
below) have not been scrutinized, nor compared in scholarly research. They nonetheless contain important
information that can help to reveal patterns and trends which, if analysed and explained, can shed light
on what transparency can deliver in climate governance. Hence, we see much value-added in relying on
this available primary data source for our analysis.
We describe further below these data sources and our data collection strategy, and the methodology we use
to construct the Transparency Adherence Indices. This methodology is dierent for reports prepared by devel-
oped country and developing country Parties (BRs and BURs respectively), given dierent reporting require-
ments and UNFCCC criteria for assessing adherence.
3.1. Generating the developed country (BR) Transparency Adherence Index
3.1.1. Primary data sources
As indicated above, we use the technical expert reviews of BRs, conducted since 2014 under the UNFCCC, as our
primary source of data. Specically, we draw on the assessment of adherence to reporting requirements con-
tained in these technical expert reviews. We describe here therefore how these assessments are undertaken
and presented in the expert reports.
First, when undertaking technical reviews of BRs, the expert review teams distinguish between mandatory
reporting requirements (the shallrequirements) and other requirements (the shouldand mayrequire-
ments) that developed country Parties have to comply with. For the mandatory shallrequirements, the
expert teams formulate and include in their assessment report a recommendationabout how to overcome
any assessed shortfalls. For non-mandatory requirements, this consists of encouragements(rather than
recommendations).
CLIMATE POLICY 639
Second, each technical review report contains an assessment of the completeness and transparency of the
information reported in each of the four main sections of BRs: (i) emissions and removals related to the Partys
quantied economy-wide emission reduction target; (ii) assumptions, conditions and methodologies related to
the attainment of the Partys quantied economy-wide emission reduction target; (iii) progress the Party has
made towards the achievement of its quantied economy-wide emission reduction target; and (iv) the
Partys provision of nancial, technological and capacity-building support to developing country Parties
(UNFCCC, 2014; UNFCCC Secretariat, 2019).
The assessment by the expert review teams of each sections completeness and transparency is based on
four gradations. For completeness, these include: complete; mostly complete; partially complete; not com-
plete. For transparency, these are: transparent; mostly transparent; partially transparent; not transparent.
Thus, expert review teams treat completeness independently from transparency in their assessment of adher-
ence to reporting guidelines, i.e. they provide separate recommendations/encouragements for completeness
versus transparency, in relation to each reporting requirement. If the information reported by a given Party in
its BR does not fully correspond to the particular reporting requirement of the mandatory guidelines, then the
expert review team formulates a recommendation on completeness in its review report. If the information
reported by the Party gives rise to questions and does not allow the reader to assess its credibility, reliability
and relevance, then the technical experts formulates a recommendation on transparency (UNFCCC Sec-
retariat, 2019).
In the expert review teamsreports, the grade attributed to each of the four sections of each BR depends on
the number of recommendations formulated by the expert review team relating to the requirements of that
particular section (see Appendix Table A1 for an overview). A mandatory requirement can only trigger one rec-
ommendation on completeness and/or one recommendation on transparency, even if the mandatory require-
ment contains more than one specic reporting parameter.
5
All mandatory reporting requirements are
supposed to be treated equally by expert review teams and an ‘“experts weighting factorshould not be
applied, as that could imply that some shallrequirements are more important than others(UNFCCC Sec-
retariat, 2019, p. 8). Finally, an expert review team also applies a qualitative assessment in its expert judgement
in order to make a nal determination on the level of completeness and transparency(UNFCCC Secretariat,
2019, p. 9).
3.1.2. Data collection and analysis
To generate our database, we compiled completeness and transparency grades for BRs of each developed
country Party, with a breakdown according to the four main sections of BRs (see supplemental material 1).
We synthesized this information from the 123 technical review reports available on the UNFCCC website for
all BRs submitted since 2014, through February 18th, 2020. These cover the rst, second and third BRs
reviewed by expert review teams. Our database also contains information on the timeliness of the sub-
mission of each BR.
3.1.3. Construction of the BR Transparency Adherence Index
As a next step, we drew on our compiled database to construct a BR Transparency Adherence Index. We devel-
oped this by generating an equally weighted average of four indices, each representing adherence to the man-
datory requirements of one of four sections of BRs. In each of these, we accorded points for completeness
(40%), transparency (40%), and timeliness (20%), according to the scorecard (which we developed) presented
in Appendix Table A2. Our scorecard uses a scale of 0 (weakest note) to 3 (top note) to grade the level of com-
pleteness, transparency and timeliness.
For example, if a particular section of a BR submitted before the deadline (timeliness score: 3) was assessed
by the expert review team as mostly complete(completeness score: 2) and partially transparent(transparency
score: 1), then the adherence value of this particular section of the report is: (3/3*0.2) + (2/3*0.4) + (1/3*0.4) = 0.5
or 50%.
640 R. WEIKMANS AND A. GUPTA
3.2. Generating the developing country (BUR) Transparency Adherence Index
3.2.1. Data source
As with the BRs, our data source to assess adherence by developing country Parties to reporting requirements
were the technical expert analyses of individual BURs, undertaken under the auspices of the UNFCCC. This tech-
nical analysis identied the extent to which information to be reported, as per BUR guidelines (UNFCCC, 2011),
was included in each report. This information included: (i) the national GHG inventory report; (ii) information on
mitigation actions, including a description of such actions, an analysis of their impacts and the associated meth-
odologies and assumptions, as well as the progress made in their implementation and information on domestic
measurement, reporting and verication; and (iii) information on support needed and received. It is important
to mention that most of these requirements are not mandatory. Mandatory requirements only concern certain
provisions related to (i) the national GHG inventory report;
6
and (ii) information on mitigation actions.
7
For each BUR, the technical team of experts identied the extent to which information for each reporting
category was included in the report, by using one of the three following comments: yes;partly; and no.
3.2.2. Data collection and analysis
Drawing on the data source above, we generated a database (see supplemental material 2) that compiled the
grades attributed to each of the mandatory reporting requirements in BURs. We drew on a total of 72 technical
summary reports available on the UNFCCC website, covering BURs submitted between 2014 and February 18th,
2020. The database also contains information on the timeliness of the submission of each BUR.
3.2.3. Construction of the BUR Transparency Adherence Index
Our resultant BUR Adherence Index is an equally weighted average of two indices; each of these captures the
extent to which mandatory information was included in each of the two BUR sections: (i) the national GHG
inventory report and (ii) information on mitigation actions.
We made the decision to include only the (limited) mandatory reporting requirements for developing
country Parties in our database in order to ensure fairness and accuracy in assessing adherence to reporting
requirements across developed and developing country Parties, since we also assessed only mandatory require-
ments for developed country Parties. However, this meant in practice that certain key categories of information
that are particularly relevant for developing country Parties, such as international support needed and received
or adaptation actions, are not captured in our BUR Transparency Adherence Index, since reporting on these
elements is voluntary. We return to this point in our discussion.
For the rst BUR of all developing country Parties and for all BURs of those with LDC and/or SIDS status, our
indices only reect the extent to which the mandatory elements of information are included (rather than also
timeliness). This is because the start date of 2014 for the rst BUR from all developing country Parties is encour-
aged rather than mandatory; and LDCs and SIDs can submit all BURs at their discretion. For the second and third
BURs of developing country Parties that do not have LDC and/or SIDS status, our indices reect the extent to
which the mandatory elements of information are included (80%) and timeliness (20%), according to the scor-
ecard (which we developed) presented in Appendix Table A3.
4. Complying with UNFCCC reporting requirements: Transparency Adherence Indices
In this section, we describe our ndings on country compliance with UNFCCC transparency requirements. We
do so through presenting our BR and BUR Transparency Adherence Indices, which synthesize the information
compiled in our databases on frequency of country participation in reporting cycles and adherence to manda-
tory reporting requirements.
4.1. Developed country compliance with UNFCCC transparency requirements
4.1.1. Participation in reporting cycles
Our analysis reveals a high level of participation in UNFCCC reporting cycles by developed country Parties, in
terms of submission of BRs. All 44 Annex I Parties have each submitted the three BRs required during our study
CLIMATE POLICY 641
period, with the exceptions of Ukraine (which has only submitted its rst BR) and the United States of America
(which has not submitted its BR3, due by the 1st of January 2018 during the Trump administrations tenure).
In terms of timeliness of submission, two ndings are worth mentioning. First, as shown in Appendix Table
A4, the sub-category of developed country Parties with the obligation to provide nancial support (Annex II
Parties) submitted their third BRs in a more timely manner than did other Annex I Parties (economies in tran-
sition). Second, for all developed countries, the third BR submissions were on average made in a timelier
manner than submission of the rst BRs. As such, a clear nding is that timeliness is improving across the
board and over time for developed country Parties, even as the timeliest submissions are still by the sub-cat-
egory of Annex II Parties. This is a relatively unsurprising nding, insofar as it conrms that the richest indus-
trialized countries, those with the longest-standing experience with UNFCCC reporting and highest
capacities to do so, are submitting reports in a more timely manner.
4.1.2. Adherence to reporting guidelines: the BR Transparency Adherence Index
The ndings of our systematic analysis of adherence to reporting requirements are summarized in Table 2
below, our BR Transparency Adherence Index. This Index ranks developed country Parties according to the
average adherence score of their three BRs. These indices bring together each countrys completeness and
transparency scores in a composite index, as described in our methodology section. We have also calculated
separate scores for each in our database, which is available as supplemental material 1.
Our results display a wide range of performance across developed country Parties in adhering to mandatory
reporting requirements. As Table 2 shows, Finland leads in adherence to mandatory UNFCCC reporting require-
ments amongst the sub-category of Annex II Parties, with an average adherence score across its rst three BRs
of 96%. Australia and Japan are in the top ve as well, as are the European Union, Germany, the Netherlands,
Sweden and the United Kingdom (with some of these countries tying for fth place with the same score). The
United States is last on the list of Annex II Parties, primarily because it did not submit a third BR. Its adherence
scores for the rst two submitted BRs are very high, however, and are comparable with the scores of the top ve
compliant Annex II Parties.
With regard to other Annex I Parties (broadly, countries with economies in transition), Turkey leads the BR
Transparency Adherence Index, with a high adherence score of 93. This is primarily because Turkey has no GHG
emission reduction target and is thus not obliged to report on assumptions, conditions and methodologies
related to attainment of a quantied economy-wide emission reduction target and progress in achievement
of targets. The others in the top ve of the list include Estonia, Czech Republic, Romania and Lithuania.
Thus, the Baltic states, for example, display high adherence to UNFCCC reporting requirements. The Russian
Federation occupies the 12
th
rank out of a total of 20 Other Annex I Parties, with an average adherence
score across its three submitted BRs of 77. Finally, Ukraine appears last on the Other Annex I Partieslist,
with an average adherence score of 24, yet this is because it has submitted only one BR.
As Table 2 also shows, while there is varying adherence to reporting requirements across developed country
Parties (both Annex II and other Annex I), we do not see any pattern of consistent improvement with regard to
adherence over time in submission of successive BRs i.e. on average, adherence with reporting requirements
does not signicantly improve through the BR submission cycle. Another nding is that the average adherence
score of Annex II Parties for each BR submission cycle is systematically higher than that of Other Annex I
Parties. As we noted earlier, both groups of developed country Parties, Annex II Parties and other Annex I
Parties, are subject to the same mandatory reporting requirements for their BRs.
8
The only exception is that
Annex II Parties are required to report on provision of support to developing country Parties, while other
Annex I Parties do not have such an obligation.
The adherence patterns identied in Table 2 raise various questions meriting further empirical analysis,
including why there is the observed divergence in adherence between developed country Parties, why adher-
ence varies (or not) over time for a given Party, and what a given adherence level may signify in terms of pol-
itical versus technical hurdles to climate reporting. We address these further in our discussion section.
Table 3 builds on our synthesis of Table 2 by distinguishing the average adherence score per section of devel-
oped country PartiesBRs. A number of trends are identiable here. First, the table shows that the average
adherence score of Annex II Parties is systematically higher than that of other Annex I Parties, for each
642 R. WEIKMANS AND A. GUPTA
section of the BRs. Second, we see that reporting requirements relating to GHG emissions and trends are on
average adhered to the most, by both Annex II Parties and other Annex I Parties. By contrast, it is striking
that they are generally struggling to adhere to the reporting requirements on achievement of targets.
The patterns observed in Table 3 also raise important questions: why is the adherence score for achievement
of targets signicantly lower across the board for developed country Parties, compared to other categories of
reporting? What political dynamics can help to explain this? Clearly, this is not only a technical struggle, since
reporting on technically complex aspects such as GHG inventories are highly adhered to.
Table 2. BR Transparency Adherence Index (Annex I Parties)
Annex II Parties
Rank Party BR1 BR2 BR3 Average
1 Finland 97 93 97 96
2 Australia 93 90 97 93
3 European Union 83 93 93 90
3 Germany 87 87 97 90
5 Netherlands 93 87 87 89
5 Sweden 87 93 87 89
5 Japan 90 93 83 89
5 United Kingdom 90 83 93 89
9 New Zealand 83 87 93 88
10 Belgium 77 90 93 87
10 Greece 93 77 90 87
12 France 87 83 87 86
12 Italy 80 87 90 86
12 Spain 80 87 90 86
15 Switzerland 80 73 93 82
16 Portugal 77 77 90 81
16 Canada 83 73 87 81
18 Austria 70 83 87 80
18 Denmark 77 73 90 80
18 Norway 73 83 83 80
21 Ireland 73 73 70 72
22 Luxembourg 60 67 73 67
23 Iceland 70 60 67 66
24 United States of America 90 90 0 60
Average 82 83 84 83
Other Annex I Parties
Rank Party BR1 BR2 BR3 Average
1 Turkey
a
87 93 100 93
2 Estonia 87 96 91 91
3 Czech Republic 89 87 96 90
3 Romania 100 78 91 90
5 Lithuania 89 87 91 89
6 Latvia 87 87 87 87
7 Slovakia 84 78 91 84
8 Croatia 89 91 69 83
9 Hungary 89 71 84 81
9 Bulgaria 78 78 87 81
11 Liechtenstein 69 76 96 80
12 Cyprus 82 76 73 77
12 Russian Federation 67 78 87 77
14 Poland 49 87 91 76
15 Slovenia 78 73 73 75
16 Malta 78 76 62 72
16 Kazakhstan 60 69 87 72
18 Belarus 62 78
b
70
18 Monaco 82 60 67 70
20 Ukraine 73 0 0 24
Average 79 76 80 78
Notes:
a
Turkey is an Annex I Party with no GHG emission reduction target and is thus not obliged to report on assumptions, conditions and
methodologies related to attainment of a quantied economy-wide emission reduction target and progress in achievement of targets;
b
Be-
larusBR3 had not yet been reviewed as of March 2
nd
, 2020.
CLIMATE POLICY 643
For Annex II Parties, the level of adherence to requirements about provision of support is even lower than
that relating to achievement of targets. This too is an important trend to examine further and explain: why is
this mandatory reporting category less adhered to? What prevents more complete adherence to a reporting
requirement that is clearly of great political salience in this multilateral climate context?
Finally, looking at the dierent BR sections, there is no clear pattern of improvement over time. Average
adherence scores rise and fall over time across the dierent sections, but mostly level o. The only exception
is Annex II Parties adherence to reporting requirements for provision of support, which has improved over time .
This last point raises additional questions. First, even as it remains the lowest adherence score in overall
terms, why has reporting on provision of international support improved over time? Is this because of
higher levels of support being disbursed by these countries, which they are then willing to report? Or
because denitional challenges and contestations relating to what constitutes climate nance and support
are becoming claried over time (but research suggests this is not the case, see Roberts & Weikmans,
2017; Weikmans & Roberts, 2019)? Or because countries are learning through the submission of BRs how to
report to satisfy the technical teams of experts? Or rather because of political pressure around the need for
increased clarity on support emerging from parallel negotiation of the 2015 Paris Agreement?
9
These possibi-
lities suggest an important research agenda around the dynamics and political implications of reporting on
climate nance that merit further study.
We discuss further these ndings and the additional questions that they raise in the discussion section
below, after rst presenting developing country adherence trends next.
4.2. Developing country compliance with UNFCCC transparency requirements
4.2.1. Participation in reporting cycles
With regard to developing country participation in reporting cycles, our synthesis reveals that 55 (out of 156)
non-Annex I Parties have submitted a BUR so far. Our data also show that the level of engagement is very
dierent between developing country Parties that are LDCs and/or SIDS and others (see Table 4). This is not
surprising given that LDCs and SIDS can submit BURs at their discretion.
Table 4 shows that 46 (out of 77) developing country Parties with neither LDC nor SIDS status have sub-
mitted their rst BUR and only nine have submitted three BURs. Furthermore, only seven developing
country Parties with neither LDC nor SIDS status submitted their BUR1 in a timely manner (i.e. by December
2014). Nine (out of 79) Parties with LDC and/or SIDS status have submitted their rst BUR so far, with only
one Party (Singapore) with SIDS status having submitted three BURs.
These trends and patterns raise a number of important questions. How can these varying patterns of
engagement be explained? Why are some states (with non-LDC/SIDS status) participating more than others?
Are the challenges of engaging in multilateral transparency arrangements technical, i.e. relating to lack of
data and lack of capacity to monitor, measure and report on greenhouse gas emissions or climate actions?
Table 3. Developed country Partiesaverage adherence score per section of the BRs.
Section Annex I Parties
Average score Average score
(BR1, BR2 and BR3)BR1 BR2 BR3
GHG emissions and trends Annex II 96 96 93 95
Other Annex I 89 85 87 87
Assumptions, conditions and methodologies related to the
attainment of the quantied economy-wide emission
reduction target
Annex II 92 92 89 91
Other Annex I 80 80 83 81
Progress in achievement of targets, including projections Annex II 75 71 78 75
Other Annex I 66 60 68 64
Provision of support to developing country Parties Annex II 66 72 77 71
Other Annex I
a
––– –
Note:
a
Under the UNFCCC (1992), only Annex II Parties have obligations in terms of reporting information on their provision of support to
developing country Parties.
644 R. WEIKMANS AND A. GUPTA
Are they related to diculties in accessing international nancial resources aimed at supporting the timely
preparation of BURs? Or do they relate to lack of priority for climate transparency reporting? Or to allocation
of scarce resources for reporting on adaptation, for example, rather than reporting mitigation actions? These
propositions have some basis in secondary and grey literature but have been little examined systematically.
4.2.2. Adherence to reporting guidelines: the BUR Transparency Adherence Index
In addition to frequency of reporting, our analysis reveals a wide variation in adherence of developing country
Parties to mandatory reporting requirements. Given the large number of these Parties, the complete adherence
scores for each are provided in supplemental material 2.
Table 5, our BUR Transparency Adherence Index, shows the adherence scores of the twenty biggest GHG
emitters among developing country Parties. It is important, rst and foremost, to note that we have listed
countries in this Index according to emission levels rather than highest to lowest adherence. The most striking
nding here is that seven of these twenty countries had not submitted even their rst BUR by February 2020 (i.e.
more than four years after the suggested deadline to submit the rst BUR). Another key nding is that, while the
adherence score of some of these twenty countries (e.g. India and Argentina) has greatly improved from BUR1
to BUR2, this is not a general trend, as can be seen from the adherence scores of Parties such as Brazil, South
Africa and Thailand.
Table 4. Developing country Partiesengagement in submitting BURs.
Number of non-Annex I Parties
Neither LDC nor SIDS (total: 77) LDC and/or SIDS (total: 79)
No BUR submitted 31 70
BUR1 submitted 46 9
BUR2 submitted 30 1
BUR3 submitted 9 1
Table 5. BUR Transparency Adherence Index (top 20 GHG emitters
a
among non-Annex I Parties).
Party BUR1 BUR2 BUR3
China 100 SBNYA
b
NYS
c
India 65 100 NYS
Indonesia 81 74 NYS
Brazil 100 66 SBNYA
Iran NYS NYS NYS
Mexico 66 70 NYS
Republic of Korea 60 67 SBNYA
Saudi Arabia 65 NYS NYS
South Africa 50 48 SBNYA
Zambia
d
NYS NYS NYS
Nigeria 89 NYS NYS
Argentina 49 87 SBNYA
Pakistan NYS NYS NYS
Thailand 89 84 NYS
Venezuela NYS NYS NYS
Egypt SBNYA NYS NYS
Tanzania
d
NYS NYS NYS
Vietnam 71 78 NYS
Kazakhstan NYS NYS NYS
United Arab Emirates NYS NYS NYS
Note: Parties are ordered by the size of their emissions in 2017.
a
According to CAIT data (including land-use change and forestry) extracted from Climate Watch (2020) on Feb-
ruary 19th, 2020.
b
SBNYA: Submitted but not yet analysed.
c
NYS: Not yet submitted.
d
Least Developed Country.
CLIMATE POLICY 645
Also noteworthy is that eight BURs (i.e. BUR1 of Brazil, China, Ghana, the Republic of Moldova, and Singa-
pore; and BUR2 of India, Malaysia and Singapore) have achieved full adherence to the reporting requirements,
as per the methodology for such assessment employed by UNFCCC teams of technical experts. Yet, this raises
a salient question: what is the signicance of having 100% adherence to reporting requirements? Does it
signal adequate capacities in data availability and information generation within a country on aspects
covered by mandatory reporting, such as GHG inventories or mitigation actions, with no need for further
improvements? Or does the 100% adherence score simply capture improved ability to report over time in
a manner consistent with technical analysis guidance? And if so, what might this imply about Brazils lower
adherence score for BR2? Another striking example is South Africa, which has consistently voiced support
for UNFCCC transparency arrangements in international negotiations but shows relatively low adherence
scores over time, according to our synthesis.
While Table 5 gives an indication of adherence scores over time of the top 20 emitters amongst developing
country Parties, Table 6 lists the average adherence score per section of all BURs.
10
It also distinguishes between
the adherence score of LDC and/or SIDS Parties on the one hand, and other developing country Parties on the
other hand. These results should be considered with caution especially those related to BUR3 and to LDCs/
SIDS given that they are based on a very limited number of BURs (i.e. only those for which a technical
summary report was available by February 18th, 2020). Nonetheless, a clear trend discernible from the Table
is that developing country Parties generally adhere more to reporting requirements for national GHG inven-
tories, as compared to reporting on mitigation actions.
This is an important nding that merits more detailed empirical scrutiny. Is this because GHG inventories are
prioritized within the capacity building initiatives to help developing country Parties comply with mandatory
UNFCCC transparency requirements? Furthermore, since our Index captures adherence only to mandatory
reporting requirements, it does not tell us how this group of countries are faring with regard to reporting
on aspects other than GHG inventories and mitigation, in particular adaptation actions and assessing
support needed and received.
Table 6 also reveals that the average adherence scores for this group of countries as a whole has improved
from BUR1 to BUR2, but then appears to have declined again somewhat between BUR2 and BUR3. This suggests
again a need for further detailed empirical analysis to understand technical, political and capacity-related expla-
nations for these observed trends.
5. State compliance with transparency requirements: a research agenda
In presenting our Transparency Adherence Indices above, we raised some questions in connection with specic
adherence patterns. Here we identify additional overarching questions and a future research and policy agenda
that these Indices help to draw attention to.
First, an important task is to explain identied levels of engagement in UNFCCC transparency arrangements,
as reected in the Transparency Adherence Indices. In particular, it is important to understand why adherence
scores are signicantly lower for some countries, or for some categories of reporting, rather than for others. In
explaining and comparing varying adherence to the dierent categories of reporting, it may well be that some
Table 6. Developing country Partiesaverage adherence score per section of the BURs.
Section Non-Annex I Parties
Average score Average score
(BUR1, BUR2 and BUR3)BUR1
a
BUR2
b
BUR3
c
National GHG inventory report LDC and/or SIDS 100 100 75 92
Other non-Annex I 92 82 80 89
Information on mitigation actions LDC and/or SIDS 75 100 100 92
Other non-Annex I 68 70 61 68
Note: These are partial results since:
a
BUR1 score is based on the technical summary reports of 4 LDC and/or SIDS Parties and 39 other non-
Annex I Parties.
b
BUR2 is based on the technical summary reports of 1 LDC and/or SIDS Party and 24 other non-Annex I Parties.
c
BUR3 is based on the technical summary reports of 1 LDC and/or SIDS Party and 2 other non-Annex I Parties.
646 R. WEIKMANS AND A. GUPTA
requirements are technically easierto adhere to than others, while others are more politically sensitive (Weik-
mans et al., 2020). Yet such a hypothesis requires systematic, comparative empirical scrutiny.
A related common presumption is that there are severe capacity constraints facing countries, particularly
developing countries, in engaging meaningfully in UNFCCC transparency processes. These constraints may
partly explain the relative lack of engagement in reporting by developing country Parties. However, the
struggleto report is clearly not only a technical one, as the Indices reveal that reporting on technically
complex aspects such as GHG inventories are generally highly adhered to, both by developed and developing
country Parties, at least by those who engage in reporting. By contrast, developing country Parties struggle with
reporting on mitigation actions, and developed country Parties generally lack adherence to reporting require-
ments linked to achievement of targets. For Annex II Parties (developed countries with an obligation to provide
support), the level of adherence to reporting requirements about provision of support is even lower than that
relating to achievement of targets. This is striking, given that these are highly politically salient categories of
reporting and action in the climate context.
Another hypothesis to explain varying adherence is that there might be active political reluctance to report on
national climate actions (or lack thereof) to multilateral institutions such as the UNFCCC, as illustrated by the lack
of submission of BRs from the United States during the Trump administrations tenure. Likewise, it may be that
developed country Parties that have signalled political reluctance to engage in top-down mitigation targets
11
are
also less prone to adhere to the reporting requirements about mitigation. This suggests a pressing need to look at
domestic political contexts as well, to understand diverse patterns of engagement with and adherence to
UNFCCC transparency requirements, both comparatively between Parties and over time for a given Party.
Second, an overarching set of questions pertains to the merits of the technical assessment of adherence as
institutionalized within the UNFCCC, which we have drawn upon here to generate our Indices. Is the current
process of assessing state compliancewith mandatory reporting requirements through the technical expert
review/analysis system adequate and relevant, or is it supercial? This relates also to the questions we raised
in the previous section about what a 100% adherence score implies. Given that diverse technical teams
assess national reports, are there also dierences in the stringency of assessment, with some more lax in
their reviews, and does this matter? Is this process of technical assessment able to capture important dynamics
in participation and adherence that are key to securing the ultimate aims of enhanced transparency: to further
accountability, mutual trust and ambition?
More specically, what are the political implications of these technicalassessments of country reports?
What is not being assessed in these technical assessments? And what is not being asked of Parties to report
on in the rst instance? Even with complete adherence with UNFCCC reporting requirements, transparency
might yet fail to be transformative if the scope of transparency is limited by political considerations or con-
straints of national sovereignty. Or, as the example of reporting relating to international support suggests, it
may be hard to assess adherence to this category of reporting, given the large margin for discretion in inter-
preting what constitutes support (see Weikmans & Roberts, 2019). It might be assessed as being in full adher-
ence but this does not remove underlying political contestations over the meaning of support (Ciplet et al.,
2018).
Third and nally, our Transparency Adherence Indices lead us to advance an intriguing hypothesis meriting
further empirical scrutiny: that a Party exhibiting more climate ambition in the rst instance (in terms of mitiga-
tion or provision of international support) may perform better in adhering to UNFCCC transparency require-
ments as well. Thus, instead of transparency stimulating greater climate ambition, greater ambition may
result in greater adherence to transparency. Yet, if this is the case, the question arises whether transparency
follows rather than shapes political developments and dynamics. Our Transparency Adherence Indices shed
light on some of these dynamics and set the stage to explore their implications further.
6. Conclusion
This article has presented a comprehensive overview of the extent to which countries that are Parties to the
UNFCCC are engaging with climate transparency requirements. We presented a two-part Transparency Adher-
ence Index(the BR and BUR indices) to distil dynamics of participation and varying patterns of adherence to
CLIMATE POLICY 647
reporting requirements by both developed and developing country Parties since 2014. To construct our indices,
we used as our primary data source the summary assessments of adherence contained in the technical reviews
of BRs and technical analyses of BURs undertaken by teams of experts under the UNFCCC.
As seen above, our Transparency Adherence Indices provide a quantitative measure of varying adherence
patterns that are comparable over time and across Parties (within the categories of developed and developing
country Parties it is important to note that the numbers are not comparable across these two categories, given
dierent reporting requirements and criteria for assessing adherence). Generating these indices is a necessary
rst step to furthering an important research agenda centred around explaining the observed trends and pat-
terns. We have thus also highlighted general and specic questions arising from the trends discernible in our
Transparency Adherence Indices, which constitute a timely future research and policy agenda.
Ultimately, addressing these questions is necessary in order to shed light on the transformative potential of
transparency, in practice, within multilateral climate governance. And herein lies the policy relevance of the
adherence assessment undertaken in this article. Our focus here was on the latest reports (the BRs and the
BURs) generated by developed and developing country Parties since 2014. Yet these reports form the
bedrock upon which the Paris Agreementsenhanced transparency frameworkis being built, with the two par-
allel reporting trajectories to be replaced by one Biennial Transparency Reportto be submitted by all countries
starting in 2024. If so, the adherence indices we have presented here provide vital context for assessing the
continued relevance of ever-expanding transparency requirements within the UNFCCC. Specically, the adher-
ence patterns in our Indices shed light not only on what engagement looks like currently, but also raise the
question of what constitutes meaningful adherence in the rst instance. They permit the posing of an impor-
tant question: To what extent is (more or less) adherence to transparency requirements linked to more far-
reaching climate action, if at all? Related to this, the Indices can help to pinpoint areas of adherence that
may need particular attention going forward (such as reporting on transparency of support; or voluntary
elements of reporting, such as reporting on adaptation). Finally, it is important, in designing and implementing
the Paris Agreements enhanced transparency framework, to continually reconsider the resource-intensive
nature of the technical expert review process, and the manner in which adherence is assessed therein, an
aspect that our Indices also shed light on.
As a concluding observation, we note that the Transparency Adherence Indices that we generate here can
also be used, in and of themselves, to benchmark countries. This may have the consequence of incentivizing
states to improve adherence to UNFCCC reporting requirements. While the assumption that naming and
shamingor naming and praisingcan transform behaviour towards more environmentally ambitious
actions is widespread in the transparency literature, it too remains empirically under-scrutinized. Thus, a
nal research question going forward is whether making visible patterns of state adherence to transparency,
as we do here through our Indices, can help stimulate changes in behaviour. Or rather, whether the political
and structural constraints underpinning the observed levels of engagement cannot be overcome merely by
shedding greater light on them. Thus, whether making transparent state eorts to be transparent is transforma-
tive of behaviour is also a key question our analysis raises.
Notes
1. The enhanced transparency framework however provides for built-in exibility that takes into account Partiesdierent
capacities(UNFCCC, 2015, article 13.2). Flexibilities will be available to developing country Parties on specic elements con-
cerning the scope, frequency and level of detail of reporting and review (see UNFCCC, 2019, Annex, paragraph 6; for an analy-
sis of these exibilities, see Weikmans et al., 2020). In addition to these exibilities, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will have further discretion in the implementation of their obligations.
2. For the International consultation and analysis, LDCs and SIDS can be analysed in groups rather than individually.
3. See https://unfccc.int/BRs and https://unfccc.int/BURs
4. See https://unfccc.int/process/transparency-and-reporting/reporting-and-review-under-the-convention/national-communications-
and-biennial-reports--annex-i-parties/international-assessment-and-review/review-reports and https://unfccc.int/process-and-
meetings/transparency-and-reporting/reporting-and-review-under-the-convention/national-communications-and-biennial-
update-reports-non-annex-i-parties/technical-analysis-of-burs
5. There are two exceptions to this principle: (a) where one shallrequirement contains an additional mandatory reporting
requirement, such as in the case of the reporting of projections; (b) where the same paragraph of the UNFCCC reporting
648 R. WEIKMANS AND A. GUPTA
guidelines on BRs contains multiple mandatory reporting requirements which are interdependent, namely, paragraphs 6,
14, 15, 17 and 22 (see suggested approach described under the review challenge C.6 below.)(UNFCCC Secretariat, 2019,
pp. 89).
6. For details, see UNFCCC (2002, Annex, para. 14); UNFCCC( 2011, para. 41(g)).
7. For details, see UNFCCC (2011, Annex III, para. 12).
8. Adherence score per section and per BR is provided for each Annex I Party in supplemental material 1.
9. A key political dynamic in the negotiations around an enhanced transparency frameworkapplicable to all under the Paris
Agreement was to give parity to transparency of mitigation actions and transparency of support.
10. The adherence score per section and per BUR is available for each developing country Party in supplemental material 2.
11. Belarus, Canada, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United States of America are Annex I Parties that
have not ratied the Doha Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol that establishes a second emission reduction commitment
period running from 2013 to 2020.
Acknowledgements
The authors thank Fabian Vallespin for his help with the coding. We also thank three anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful com-
ments and suggestions for improvements. We are grateful to the Editor for her valuable guidance and support.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
Funding
This work was supported by the Fonds de la Recherche Scientique (F.R.S.-FNRS) under grant number 32709873 (Romain Weikmans);
and by the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) funded TRANSGOV project (Aarti Gupta).
ORCID
Romain Weikmans http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1523-2993
Aarti Gupta http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4908-7453
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650 R. WEIKMANS AND A. GUPTA
Appendix
Table A1. Completeness and transparency assessment scoreboard for BRs
BR section
Number of mandatory
requirements in BR
guidelines
Number of missing mandatory
requirements identied by the
ERT
Assessment of completeness
and transparency of BR section
GHG emissions and removals 2 1 Mostly complete/transparent
2 Partially complete/transparent
Assumptions, conditions and
methodologies related to the emission
reduction target
2 1 Mostly complete/transparent
2 Partially complete/transparent
Progress in achievement of the emission
reduction target including projections
14 14 Mostly complete/transparent
513 Partially complete/transparent
Provision of support to developing
country Parties
15 13 Mostly complete/transparent
415 Partially complete/transparent
Source: Reproduced from UNFCCC Secretariat (2019, p. 9).
Table A2. Scorecard used to construct the Adherence Index of each section of a BR
Gradation by the expert review teams Score
Completeness Complete 3
Mostly complete 2
Partially complete 1
Not complete 0
Transparency Transparent 3
Mostly transparent 2
Partially transparent 1
Not transparent 0
Timeliness Report submitted before the deadline 3
Report submitted within six weeks after the due date
a
2
Report submitted more than six weeks after the due date
a
1
No submission 0
Note:
a
We chose this cut-odate because when a submission is made more than six weeks after the due date, the delay is brought to the
attention of the COP.
Table A3. Scorecard used to construct the Adherence Index of each section of a BUR
Gradation by the technical teams of experts Score
Extent to which the mandatory elements of
information are included
Yes 1
Partly 0.5
No 0
Timeliness
a
Submission on time (i.e. by December 2014 for the rst BUR; and every two
years for subsequent BURs).
1
Late submission 0
a
According to UNFCCC (2011, para. 41), non-Annex I Parties, consistent with their capabilities and the level of support provided for reporting,
should submit their rst Biennial Update Report by December 2014. (). [They] shall submit a Biennial Update Report every two years ().
LDCs and SIDS may submit BURs at their discretion.
Table A4. BRs submission timeliness
Annex I Parties
Timeliness score
Average timeliness scoreBR1 BR2 BR3
Annex II Parties 79 89 86 85
Other Annex I Parties 70 73 77 73
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Technical Report
There are many reasons why the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reporting framework requests information from countries. These include understanding and tracking progress with individual or collective commitments or pledges, providing confidence and enhancing accountability in quantified information measured and reported, and providing background information on the scope and ambition of national climate responses. This paper highlights the gaps, inconsistencies and uncertainties in the current reporting framework, which was developed for both long-standing obligations and mitigation pledges for the period to 2020. The paper also identifies possible improvements in the UNFCCC reporting framework in the context of the post-2020 transparency framework and nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for the post-2020 period.