Verification of greenhouse emissions not a political game

By Wang Ke
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, December 7, 2010
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Transparency in measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) of greenhouse gas emissions, which caused the dispute between the U.S. and China in Copenhagen, should not be a political game, an expert told in Cancun.

Professor Zhou Dadi, the director general (emeritus) of the Energy Research Institute (ERI) of the National Development and Reform Commission.[Wang Ke]

Professor Zhou Dadi, the director general (emeritus) of the Energy Research Institute (ERI) of the National Development and Reform Commission.[Wang Ke]

Professor Zhou Dadi, the director general (emeritus) of the Energy Research Institute (ERI) of the National Development and Reform Commission, said MRV is just a technical problem, not a political game between the two countries.

"It was a negotiating obstacle in Copenhagen that has now resurfaced in Cancun," he said. "By focusing on the controversial verification aspect of MRV, negotiations may get past this roadblock."

According to the Kyoto Protocol rules, developing countries and Annex I countries (mostly developed countries) share different obligations and responsibilities.

Zhou said Annex I countries are required to submit their emissions reports to the United Nations each year. But other non-Annex I countries (like China and many other developing countries) only need to submit emissions reports domestically. Submitting them to the UNFCCC regularly is not required unless they receive climate financial aid, and this submission is not reviewed.

"China does not oppose MRV for mitigation actions that receive international financing, technology, or capacity building support," Zhou told

He stressed that China has its own internal systems for MRV comparable to those of developed countries and will make reports coming out of China transparent and publicly available.

"Of course, our system, to some extent, needs to improve and to match the international criteria," he said. "But it's just a technical issue and technology development needs time. China is a developing country and we need more time."

Zhou emphasized that China has taken a lot of actions, but did not talk too much.

"If we've done something, why not say so? What China has done, what it has not done, what difficulties it faces – I'm willing to tell anyone about these," he said.

China has been open to transparency in the past, allowing monitoring of external actors in the country. China completed its first and only greenhouse gas inventory with the help of the US Department of Energy in 1994.

A veteran from Chinese delegation in Cancun indicated that China had put in place a rigorous system for measuring and assessing its carbon emissions and had no objection if other countries examined its reports.

Zhou said it was neither correct nor acceptable if the Cancun negotiation process is blocked by the MRV/ICA issue.

He suggested that the definition of MRV and the use of this term should be differentiated between developed and developing countries.

"First, this has to be raised up at first as the most essential point," Zhou said. "To developed countries, MRV ought to be a legal obligation in the processes of reducing their own emissions, providing financial support and implementing technology transfer to developing countries. Based on the current situation, developed countries have a long way ahead to achieve MRV."

Second, he insisted that for developing countries, MRV could only be used in the mitigations assisted by developed countries financially or technically. MRV has nothing to do with those voluntary mitigations or adaptation activities within developing countries. And the evaluation work is under the scope of international consultation and analysis (ICA).

"China made a strategic decision to be as positive, open and forthcoming as they can," he said.

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