What is the scope of the reporting requirement on climate change impacts and adaptation under Article 13.8 in relation to the transparency framework? Can the adaptation communication under Article 7.11 be used to fulfil the reporting requirements or is there scope for article 13.8 to be interpreted as covering something else/broader than adaptation communications under Article 7.11?
The scope of the reporting requirement under Article 13.8 is intentionally broad to enable Parties flexibility in the types of information they report and the vehicle through which they report it. Based on the wording in Articles 7 and 13, there is nothing to prohibit countries from using an adaptation communication to communicate information on climate change impacts and adaptation under Article 13.8. There is also scope for Parties to use other vehicles of communication, including their national communications and nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Relevant to which vehicle countries choose to report information on climate change impacts and adaptation is the frequency of reporting. Paragraph 90 of decision 1/CP.21 requires all Parties (except for LDCs and SIDS) to report information under Article 13 biennially. This includes the information under 13.8 on climate change impacts and adaptation. If Parties choose their NDC as the vehicle for their adaptation communication (as permitted under Article 7.11), this could also impact whether they meet their biennial reporting obligation under Article 13.8 and paragraph 90 of decision 1/CP.21. Therefore, additional reporting vehicles might need to be utilized (for Parties other than LDCs and SIDS).
Further details on the vehicles and frequency of report on climate change impacts and adaptation under Article 13.8 should be contained in the modalities, procedures and guidelines for the enhanced transparency framework for action and support due to be adopted by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement in 2018.
Article 13.8 states that “Each Party should also provide information related to climate change impacts and adaptation under Article 7, as appropriate”. The use of the term “should” creates an expectation but not a legal requirement on Parties to report. Article 13.8 also does not provide further specifics on the information to be reported. Article 13 does not provide any additional clarity in terms of content to be reported but references the entirety of Article 7 which covers both forward- and backward-looking information. Parties are therefore provided flexibility on whether to report information on climate change impacts and adaptation and what information they choose to report.
Article 7 itself does not reference the reporting requirement contained in Article 13.8, but the provision of regular information on climate change impacts and adaptation is referred to in Article 7.10 which provides that “Each Party should, as appropriate, submit and update periodically an adaptation communication, which may include its priorities, implementation and support needs, plans and actions, without creating any additional burden for developing country Parties”. Similar to Article 13.8, this is not a legal requirement. The list of information that could be included in an “adaptation communication” is indicative only.
Furthermore, Article 7.11 clarifies that the information envisaged by 7.10 “shall be, as appropriate, submitted and updated periodically, as a component of or in conjunction with other communications or documents, including a national adaptation plan, a nationally determined contribution as referred to in Article 4, paragraph 2, and/or a national communication”. Article 7.11 gives Parties the latitude of which vehicle is most appropriate to communicate this information.
Relevant to the question of which vehicle Parties can use to communicate information on climate change impacts and adaptation is the requirement of frequency contained in paragraph 90 of decision 1/CP.21, which provides that “[A]ll Parties, except for the least developed country Parties and small island developing States, shall submit the information referred to in Article 13, paragraphs 7, 8, 9 and 10, of the Agreement, as appropriate, no less frequently than on a biennial basis, and that the least developed country Parties and small island developing States may submit this information at their discretion;”.
Parties therefore have sufficiently flexibility under the Paris Agreement as to what they report, when they report it and through which vehicle. Adaptation communications referred to in Article 7 are to be updated and submitted “periodically,” and while reporting under Article 13 is to be biennial, there are ambiguities in the text. Additionally, depending on how Parties choose to submit information on climate change impacts and adaptation, frequency may already be predetermined. For example, if a Party chooses to submit an adaptation communication as part of its NDC, the frequency is already set at five-year intervals. However, that Party could still choose to report additional information through other channels and frequencies.
Based on the various provisions of the Paris Agreement and its negotiating history as well as the nature of adaptation, it is likely that Parties will retain the flexibility to choose a vehicle (such as National Communications, National Adaptation Plans, or Nationally Determined Contributions) to report adaptation communications and therefore retain some flexibility as to when information to fulfill reporting under Article 13.8 will be submitted. However, as the Paris Agreement establishes the global stocktake which is to be informed by the adaptation actions of Parties, it is likely that at some point there will be a review of the relevance of the information currently provided by Parties under Article 13, how it is communicated or reported, and frequency of timing to ensure the information is fit for purpose without creating undue burden. Work has already begun to unpack and interpret what type of information on climate change impacts and adaptation would be needed to support the global stocktake as well as approaches to process and synthesize this information.
 Paris Agreement, Article 13.8
 Article 7 includes a forward-looking goal for adaptation, references adaptation planning processes and implementation, and also references backward-looking elements under the global stocktake including review of adequacy of support, and review of overall progress.
 Paris Agreement, Article 7.10
 Paris Agreement, Article 7.11
 Decision 1/CP>21, paragraph 90.
 The biennial reporting requirement of Paragraph 90 of Decision 1.CP/21 excludes LDCs and SIDS and also includes the expression “as appropriate” which may apply to the content or the frequency.
 Ngwadla, X. and El-Bakri, S. 2016. The Global Goal for Adaptation under the Paris Agreement: Putting ideas into action. London, UK: Climate and Development Knowledge Network.