Battle lines drawn over climate mitigation registry

A registry would record mitigation measures such as the use of renewable energy Copyright: Warren Gretz NREL

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[BONN] The issue of whether developing countries should be obliged to sign up to a proposed registry of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions divided delegations at the latest climate change meeting.

Some developing countries, such as Brazil and India, said that participating in any kind of mitigation registry should be voluntary for developing nations.

But Japan and Norway — among other developed countries — said that national mitigation actions should be "measured, reported and verified" (MRV) and that a registry should be an obligation for all countries.

The debate was part of a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting held in Bonn, Germany, which finished this month (28 March–9 April). It was part of the lead-up to the Copenhagen UNFCCC meeting in December, where an international climate change agreement to exceed the Kyoto Protocol’s goals — the first commitment period of which expires in 2012 — is due to be made.

Under the Bali Action Plan — a two-year process leading to the Copenhagen meeting that was agreed in 2007 — developing countries are required to take "nationally appropriate mitigation actions" (NAMAs). It is expected that those actions will need support, such as finance and technology transfer, from developed countries.

A registry would record countries’ NAMAs for international recognition. It could include broad mitigation targets and also specific policies and measures taken by a country such as reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), energy efficiency standards, and renewable energy ratio.

India’s representatives stressed that the proposed international registry should simply be a compilation of NAMAs voluntarily proposed by developing countries, and said that the implementation of such actions would depend on developed countries providing resources.

China agreed that NAMAs should "be country driven", and said developing nations must give priority to sustained economic growth and the eradication of poverty.

Saleemul Huq, head of climate change at the International Institute for Environment and Development, says there seems to be a growing consensus amongst most developing countries that such a registry would be useful.

"The issue is whether it should be voluntary or mandatory and that would depend very much on the level of support (financial and technological) that they received for such actions," he told SciDev.Net.

How such a registry would work in practice will be discussed in the next UNFCCC meeting in Bonn in June.