Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement translates into the increased need for the ambition of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). To fill this need, the EU4Climate project supported the development of NDCs in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, and Moldova. Belarus and Georgia committed to reducing GHG emissions by up to 35%, Armenia stated by 40%, and Moldova by 70%. Funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNDP, the project supports the fulfillment of the obligations under the Paris Agreement to improve climate policies and legislation.

Tracking and reporting the implementation and impacts of climate actions, and the finance used to support these actions is crucial for transparency. Data on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as on the actions that countries are taking to mitigate and adapt to climate change, is key in determining the progress in the implementation of NDCs, both internationally and at the national level. There is a need for reliable monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) of emissions, which at the national level means a multi-step process to monitor and report the amount of greenhouse gases emitted or absorbed by sinks through various activities in a given country in a year. Establishing an MRV system for national emissions in developing countries is a relatively new requirement set by the Enhanced Transparency Framework under the Paris Agreement.

EU4Climate provides support for establishing the national MRV systems in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova. The need to improve these systems is derived from the necessity of reporting their progress under the NDCs and getting access to international finance under the cooperative mechanisms of the Paris agreement (“Article 6” mechanisms). Therefore, MRV systems and their proper functioning are crucial to unlocking carbon finance and showing progress on climate goals.

Forming an essential basis for understanding current emission levels, the ambition of existing efforts, and progress on both the national and international scale, the MRV system allows for reliable, transparent and comprehensive information on emissions and provided support.

“MRV is a complex issue as countries have different capacities and approaches as well as institutions in place. In our region, Moldova has an advanced institutional system covering the national MRV and is working to further improve and advance it, while Azerbaijan has chosen a different path by working at supplementing national MRV with a facility-level MRV system. Armenia and Georgia are working on developing institutional structures”, says Olga Gassan-zade, EU4Climate MRV expert.

Introducing or strengthening robust MRV systems for EaP countries to get on track with Paris Agreement transparency requirements is one of the main objectives of the EU4Climate project. The project developed country-tailored recommendations to improve the national MRV systems and provides capacity building to support EaP countries in this direction.

The capacity-building efforts of EU4Climate focus on key challenges, such as institutionalising GHG emissions reporting and ensuring regular GHG inventory updates, calculating NDC-related emission balances, and understanding the impacts of corresponding adjustments. Workshops, gap analysis, training of MRV specialists and training materials for the private sector representatives to contribute to national GHG inventories are the main directions of support within the EU4Climate activities.

As the main result, sets of recommendations were developed for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova to improve the national MRV systems to fit their purpose. The recommendations will be taken up and implemented by the countries themselves, with the help of 288 government officials and national MRV experts trained by the project.

Trained and informed national experts will ensure that MRV systems are better-taken care of institutionally and become consistent in their tracking and reporting of climate action information. Countries must identify relevant indicators to track progress against their NDC targets and report reference values and observed levels on these indicators because reporting as high transparency will be crucial to building trust when it comes to implementing cooperative carbon financing mechanisms under Paris Agreement’s Article 6.

UNDP Georgia is currently testing the future opportunities to raise climate financing. Improved landfill management and energy efficiency in buildings are considered as the potential areas to receive Article 6 finance by Georgia from the potential buyers of the carbon credits, with the possibility to attract international climate finance to other sectors. The capacity-building efforts and recommendations provided by EU4Climate will serve as a basis for the country to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation activities, once the Article 6 mechanisms become operational.  Roadmaps and recommendations developed by the EU4Climate aim to build a strong, competent and sustainable National System with defined roles and experts that can provide the necessary reporting at a high standard. The support and guidance provided by EU4Climate ensured the delivery of sufficient capacity building for the delivery of good inventory systems in the countries of the region.

“Recommendations made by the EU4Climate project are focused on the legal infrastructure that countries need to develop to strengthen the MRV institutions” explained Olga Gassan-zade. While different parameters and characteristics are measured and reported by different specialists, it is possible to establish collaboration by combining resources and efforts. “Working with the Eastern Partnership countries, our team saw overlaps between the work of the experts reporting the long-range transboundary air pollution and those working on GHG emissions. Our recommendation was to look for synergies between these teams of experts.”

Roadmaps for Armenia and Azerbaijan aimed at setting up a team (within the Ministry of the Environment or as an independent entity) with defined roles and a running QA/QC system to concentrate on GHG emissions reporting. As emissions of air pollutants are estimated by a different team, synergies should be used. Above all, there needs to be a detailed regulatory framework so that government agencies are obliged to share information and provide the data necessary for the reparation of GHG inventories. Another need is training to improve the skills of national experts in data collection, reporting and verification.

Setting up a team with clearly defined roles is among the recommendations for Georgia as well, therefore the roadmap recommends increasing the capacity of the inventory team. The current MRV system is not built upon a clear structure which makes it necessary to elaborate a formal decision on the structure as a foundation for all future development of the inventory system. This will provide a basis for the QA/QC system also, where all decisions and actions about the inventories and their preparation will be recorded and will serve as a basis for data processing, archiving, and trouble-shooting, but also for training of new/coming experts.

Moldova sets a good example for other countries as it has nominated the Environment Agency of Moldova as the national authority responsible for the National System for Monitoring and Reporting (NSMR) for GHG emissions and other information relevant to climate change. The Moldovan Environment Agency is responsible for QA/QC and reporting, which is also set out in the same governmental decision as the mandate for the National System. Moldova has an extensive system in place to assure an inventory of high quality, however, there is no predefined team of inventory experts leaving unclear how the knowledge is passed on to the Environment Agency. It is recommended to take a decision on the structure of the inventory team, enhance the capacities and the powers of the Agency in the law and strengthen the capacities of experts through workshops as is the case of other countries.

The first Biennial Transparency reports to UNFCCC are expected to be submitted by the end of 2024. A robust national MRV system would be one of the key building blocks allowing developing countries to implement the Paris Agreement fully.