Where the Rubber Hits the Road on Accountability

Accountability and verification of progress in meeting commitments are essential to increasing transparency, and creating confidence that countries are taking actions in line with their capabilities and responsibilities.

In Cancun and Durban, Parties established the International Assessment and Review (IAR) and International Consultation and Analysis (ICA), as a two-phase verification process for developed and developing countries.

Today and tomorrow, 28 countries will be subject to multilateral scrutiny on their climate efforts — the second part of the two-phase verification process. Countries being evaluated include the US, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, France, Russia, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Thailand and Malaysia. Following a technical analysis of country reports during the first phase, this exercise allows for a more comprehensive picture of the actions taken by countries, for a better understanding of how each country gathered the information included in their reports, and for sharing best practices and lessons learned.  It also provides an opportunity for other Parties to raise questions and concerns, and for the Party under review to respond and clarify its thinking, or highlight its efforts to fulfill its requirements.


Although the current process is designed to be facilitative and kind to the countries on the hot seat, it ultimately has to help answer the question: is the country in question living up to its obligations and responsibilities? If done right, the assessment should shed light on important questions, like whether countries are making serious efforts to bend their emissions curves, whether Parties that are over-complying are doing so because they made additional efforts or because they chose weak targets; and whether those failing to meet their targets are doing so because they didn’t really try or because they had set challenging targets.


This process also puts the spotlight on the pre-2020 action, which is fundamental to meeting the Paris Agreement’s objective of limiting warming to 1.5°C. It certainly helps to exercise pressure on countries lagging behind, and challenges them to do more as temperature and climate impacts continue to rise rapidly. The differentiated processes for developing and developed countries clearly indicates that developed countries have a larger responsibility to act. The world outside UNFCCC has performed much better in the deployment of renewable energy, making it easier for many developed countries to achieve their pre-2020 targets. Therefore, instead of getting complacent about their “overachievement”, developed countries should raise their ambition in the next 3-4 years to make it possible for us to achieve the Paris Agreement’s stated goal.