To take ambitious climate action, it’s essential that local, regional and national governments have access to good information about the sources of their emissions. Strong reporting mechanisms allow all levels of government to identify sectors where the highest-impact, lowest-cost climate interventions can be deployed. They also allow for knowledge sharing, well-informed budget plans and ultimately, accurate and attainable revisions of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
In Argentina, cities are already making use of these advantages.The RAMCC (Argentinian Network of Municipalities Against Climate Change) has been coordinating community-level emissions reporting across the nation, and has been able to use its findings to drive climate action. The network has coordinated with federal ministries and helped subnational authorities develop sound mitigation plans.
The RAMCC has been instrumental in developing national reporting methods and in organizing local communities. Now, the organization is looking to add the international dimension to its work. The advantages of locally developed reporting standards — better funding, better implementation, and more reliable planning — can only be enjoyed on a global scale if the locally sourced information is mutually intelligible with external frameworks. But what exactly do these global advantages look like, and how can an organization make the changes needed to adopt a global protocol?
The advantage of globally recognized protocols
Aggregation is a key advantage of using a global reporting protocol, in part because it is a driver for political change. Every year, for example, ICLEI issues its CCR Report. This report carries forward emissions commitments and informations to the UNFCCC, and is the basis for much advocacy work in the ongoing climate negotiations. The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy is able to quantify local climate reduction commitments – presently 17 gigagtons CO2e by 2030 – thanks to access to comparable information that conforms to global protocols.
Communities using international protocols like the GPC can also benefit from the transparency and inclusivity (of multiple sectors and levels of government) built into the framework. Because such a protocol is developed in advance by a third party, it is less prone to potential oversights or biases that might emerge from a locally developed reporting mechanism.
Lastly, cities who are familiar with international reporting protocols can learn a great deal from cities around the globe. Support for sustainable initiatives is rarely evenly distributed across a nation, and it certainly isn’t evenly distributed across the globe. By becoming fluent in globally recognized protocols, city staff can identify cities that face similar challenges to their own and begin exploring prospective solutions accordingly. If a city has already discovered highly effective emissions mitigation techniques, then staff can use international protocols to share the results of their success more widely and therefore encourage the replication of their work.
Building the global exchange
ICLEI currently works with the RAMCC as part of an initiative of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM). This initiative, designed to help local governments develop accurate climate impact reports, GHG reduction targets and climate action plans, has also been an illustrative case of how local reporting standards can be internationalized.
Through the GCoM initiative, ICLEI has been helping RAMCC enhance its inventories by developing them according to the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC). This protocol is what’s used to report emissions inventories to worldwide platforms like the carbonn Climate Registry. Possessing such a robust inventory makes it easy for cities to fulfill the commitment requirements of the GCoM (For current commitment requirements, active from 2019, click here). To update RAMCC’s existing inventories, ICLEI helped RAMCC and local staff update and re-model their data, and validates both existing and new reports.
“The GPC makes it easy for reporting emissions in ways that account for the size, weather and topography of the country”, says Martina Gimeno, technical assessor for RAMCC. “We like that the methodology is adapted to the municipalities, and that it allows us to include all the municipalities regardless of size. We can also work with and report on the emissions of municipalities with common services.”
Although updating RAMCC’s work is serious undertaking, the application of global protocols to existing local standards is easier than it sounds.“The great thing about the GPC is that it’s tool agnostic” says Laura Noriega, a junior officer on ICLEI’s Low Carbon Team. “We don’t need people to get rid of the tools they are using to calculate the GHG emissions as long as they include all the information required by the GPC. While reviewing the inventories and data reported, we analyze them and help them identify what’s missing.”
Whether municipalities are using popular tools like ClearPath and CIRIS or are tracking emissions in a locally developed manner, almost all communities can update their data to reflect global protocols.
Empowering regional leaders
The collaboration between ICLEI and RAMCC has been highly productive. Since the launch of the collaboration, we have helped more than 60 towns and cities prepare to commit to the GCoM by developing their commitments. This represents a great gain for climate ambition in Argentina, but such success would not be possible without a national-level organization, like RAMCC, coordinating the efforts of local authorities.
Having such a body in place can therefore be considered a best practice for nations looking to step up their climate ambitions in 2020, and which are looking to gain more accurate emissions information from their own constituents. Not only does such an organization help support the efforts of local communities, but it provides an effective point of contact for interactions with international organizations such as ICLEI or GCoM, and could play a vital role in the mobilization of funding.
For national leaders looking to empower subnational governments to lead in the fight against climate change, developing a network like RAMCC and encouraging the use of international tools are great first steps.