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Build up local data to reach global climate goals

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Amid the enthusiasm for its success, the UN’s Paris climate agreement, hammered out last December after two frantic weeks of high-level negotiations, left some big questions unanswered.
 
For the first time in UN history, country delegates commited to climate action that will be regularly reviewed and tightened. But only a substantial improvement in national and international infrastructure can turn pledges into reality.
 
The Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT) was launched last month as a learning platform for countries to share experiences and best practices. It aims to help bridge the gap between local capacity and global requirements within the Paris agreement framework.
 
In this interview, Michael Jacobs, one of the initiative’s coordinators and consultant with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, explains the thinking behind ICAT and considers the next steps for implementating climate readiness.

The climate deal’s long-term viability hinges on practical aspects that are often overlooked. One of them — perhaps the most urgent as it cuts across mitigation, adaptation and finance issues — is how to ensure countries have a robust reporting system in place. Measuring greenhouse gas emissions is the first step of a process that also includes assessing whether or not reducing pollution is cost-effective.
 
Better monitoring can also improve access to aid. The UN’s main climate finance body, the Green Climate Fund, asks applicants to support their submissions with evidence that they are ready to take action and can prove their progress through a rigorous system of monitoring, reporting and verification, or MRV.
 
This is necessary to guarantee transparent decisions and ensure money is well spent.
 
ICAT is still at an embryonic stage, with the first countries being approached to see it they wish to participate. Its creators believe that the platform’s usefulness as a tool to help both monitor and evaluate progress towards achieving the Paris agreement goals means it could aid countries across the developing world. 

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