Gigatonne gap and double counting

Legal assistance paper

All reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time the advice was produced. However, the materials have been prepared for informational purposes only and may have been superseded by more recent developments. They do not constitute formal legal advice or create a lawyer- client relationship. To the extent permitted any liability is excluded. Those consulting the database may wish to contact LRI for clarifications and an updated analysis.

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Date produced: 10/06/2010

1. To what extent do the proposals for a Registry set out in the LCA Text prevent the issue of double-counting of emissions reductions resulting from the various schemes under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including CDM, NAMAs and REDD, and to what extent does the Registry have authority under the KP Track?

2. Can the language on the Registry be improved to reduce double counting?  

3. Are there other innovative suggestions on how to avoid double counting in these thematic areas, and how might these suggestions be transposed under the Convention?

As understood, the scope of the query is anchored to the proposals for a ‘registry’ (the “Registry”) set out in the ‘text to facilitate negotiations among parties’ in advance of the Bonn negotiations and prepared by the ‘Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action’ (the “AWGLCA”), (together, the “LCA Text”).

Due to the short timeframe for response, the information set out does necessarily focus on the query in the context of the drafting of the LCA Text and does not consider in any detail the mechanisms underlying the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Countries Programme (“REDD”), the Kyoto Protocol (“KP”), the Clean Development Mechanism (“CDM”) or any individual Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (“NAMA”).

We suggest that the most effective way to prevent the double counting principle is to attempt to incorporate draft wording into the LCA Text, as this will necessitate further discussions going forward. Examples of draft wording that may be used are set out below.

We further note that, although all reasonable efforts have been made in the provision of the following information, the material below is only for informational purposes and is not intended in any way to constitute legal advice.

1. The LCA Text does not go far in preventing double counting for the above. The proposal for a Registry for developing countries NAMAs is set out in Chapter 1, paragraph 12, option 2. This is the second of the options explored when considering ‘enhanced action on mitigation and its associated means of implementation’. Option one, which is also open for negotiation by the parties, does not consider a proposal for a Registry.

However, paragraph 13 and Chapter 5, although not specifically setting out that a registry will be used, does state that a mechanism will (subject to negotiation) be put in place to record NAMA, which implies that a form of registry will be required for both options 1 and 2.

There are a number of references within the LCA Text to the Registry concept. Not all of these references refer directly to double counting in any way.

The most relevant provisions for the prevention of double counting for both developing and developed countries in the LCA Text is found at Chapter 8, paragraph 5, option 2(c). Chapter 8 sets out that in pursuing mitigation approaches, parties should use a range of non-market and market based strategies and paragraph 5 encapsulates a proposed decision that new market based mechanisms that complement other means of support for NAMAs of developing countries should be established and at subparagraph (c) there is a statement that environmental integrity should be maintained including by way of the prevention of double counting.

Unlike the provisions set out in Chapter 1, paragraphs 12 and 13, or Chapter 5, the provisions in Annex 1 are silent as to whether they apply to CDM, NAMA’s and REDD. The wording that the prevention of double counting is to be used in a market based mitigation scenario may mean that it is intended to be applied only under CDM, market based NAMA’s and REDD (as at this stage , as long as they are market based).

Overall, the proposals for a registry do not explicitly seek to prevent double counting other than by reference to proposed new market based mechanisms to be established under the LCA Text. The LCA Text can clearly be improved to ensure that the overall targets of global emissions reductions are achieved, including by way of the prevention of double counting under both the KP Track and the LCA Text.

We were also asked whether the Registry would be used under the KP Track. At this stage the LCA Text is not clear whether the Registry is intended to encompass mechanism set up under the KP Track (although we would need to review the working texts for the KP Track to confirm there is no link). Given that NAMA’s are a new feature of the UNFCCC, and the existing KP Track mechanisms already have registries there would be a presumption against the Registry being intended for these mechanisms. However, it would seem to us that there would be merit in discussing the feasibility of a central registry for all UNFCC emission reductions mechanisms which would further minimise the chances of double counting.

2. As set out above, the language in the relevant provisions is ambiguous as to whether the LCA Text will prevent double counting. It is clear that detailed guidance and mechanisms will be drafted based on the LCA Text and therefore these principles should make it clear that prevention of double counting is a general principle that should apply to all actions taken under the LCA Text (and even the KP Track).

Moreover, although the LCA Text is broadly drafted, Chapter 8, paragraph 5, option 2(c) shows that the prevention of double counting was considered by those drafting the LCA Text and only set out in one part of it. On this basis, we suggest:

  • the drafting in Chapter 1, paragraph 12 and in Chapter 1 and Chapter 5, is amended to specifically widen its application to CDM and REDD. That the drafting in the same provisions is amended to specifically include reference to the prevention of double counting;
  • the drafting in Chapter 1, paragraph 7 is amended to incorporate reference to the prevention of double counting in emission reduction objectives; and/or
  • the drafting in Chapter 8, paragraph 2 is amended so as to apply to non-market based in addition to market based mitigation actions.

The relevant redrafted text discussed in the options above is  set out below:

Chapter 1, paragraph 12, option 2

“Nationally appropriate mitigation actions seeking …These supported nationally appropriate mitigation actions will be subject to international measurement, reporting and verification in a transparent manner and in accordance with guidelines adopted by the Conference of Parties which have as an aim the prevention of double counting of emissions reductions under nationally appropriate mitigation actions alone or in combination with other mitigation schemes in place from time to time  

“Mitigation actions taken by Non-Annex 1 Parties will be subject to their domestic measurement, reporting and verification the results of which will be transparently reported through their national communications every two years in such a way as to ensure the prevention of double counting of emissions reductions from such mitigation actions arising from such Non-Annex 1 Parties or Annex 1 Parties“.

Chapter 5

Paragraph 1

“Pursuant to Article 12, paragraph 4, of the Convention, developing country parties shall submit to the mechanism, proposals for nationally appropriate mitigation actions for which they are seeking support, along with an estimate of all related incremental costs, indication of type of support, transparent mechanisms for quantification of emissions, an estimate of mitigation benefits and the anticipated time frame for implementation. Support sought for specific nationally appropriate mitigation actions may include support related to enhancing capacity for the design, preparation and implementation of such actions, such support shall include the prevention of double counting of emissions reductions arising from such actions“.

Paragraph 2

“Proposed nationally appropriate mitigation action shall also be submitted to the mechanism for transparent technical analysis…expected emissions reductions in accordance with guidelines to be adopted by the Conference of the Parties which have as an aim the prevention of double counting of emissions reductions under nationally appropriate mitigation actions alone or in combination with other mitigation schemes in place from time to time“.

Chapter 1, paragraph 7 option 2

“Developed country parties shall undertake, individually or jointly, legally binding nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions, including[3] quantified economy-wide emission reduction objectives, whilst  ensuring such objectives do not allow double counting of emission reductions under any or all mitigation commitments…”

Chapter 8, paragraph 2

“Requests the subsidiary body for Scientific and Technological Advice…for adoption by the Conference of the Parties at its seventeenth session, guided by, inter alia: 

(A) Safeguarding environmental integrity by ensuring that emission reductions and removals are additional to any that would otherwise occur, reflecting contributions by developing country Parties to global mitigation efforts, providing for robust measurement, reporting and verification, and preventing double-counting“.

3. Other potential means of preventing double counting could be:

  • Chapter 1, paragraph 33 sets out a proposal for a Finance Board of the financial mechanism. This could be required to assess all countries efforts to reduce double counting and publish lists of those countries that are not being transparent or complying with regulations. If there is non-compliance, those countries may be ruled out of funding by the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund in the event they do not take all actions reasonably necessary to remediate;
  • A central registry could be established to track the actual emissions reductions from each mechanism incentivising such reduction.
  • The establishment of a Technology Mechanism, set out at Chapter 1, paragraph 43, could be used as an incentive for countries to do all things necessary to prevent double counting.
  • The KP track should have the principles of no double counting inserted within it with reference to NAMAs that are not KP mechanisms, eg: REDD and others.