27 Mar

How does Climate Data Contribute to Climate Accountability?


The Climate Action Data 2.0 (CAD2.0) community brings together key funders, political advocates, technologists, data product providers, and climate data experts to collaborate to address the biggest data gaps that limit our ability to understand global progress towards the Paris Agreement.

In our February 2023 meeting, we addressed the topic of how the community can contribute to the data-to-accountability pipeline, which generally refers to the process by which data can be used to hold actors accountable for climate pledges made. This pipeline underpins the Paris Agreement’s “pledge-review-ratchet” mechanism that requires national governments to regularly report data and actions that provide transparency to whether they are meeting their pledged financing, mitigation, and adaptation targets. The discussion highlighted existing data gaps, the lack of integration of data across systems and actors, as well as the need for open, plug-and-play digital infrastructure and data sharing agreements that can match the speed and urgency required for the global 1.5°C goal.

Carolyn Chalmers from The ESG Exchange discussed building organizational capacity, including equipping data professionals, to respond to statutory ESG reporting demands (with comparable, assurable, repeatable, decision-ready sustainability data) in the context of the heterogeneous ESG reporting space. Jamal Srouji from WRI presented opportunities and challenges for the next steps of the UNFCCC Global Stocktaking process as it moves from defining the mechanical process toward negotiating the political process. Doree Marentette from European Climate Foundation asked the CAD 2.0 community what contributions to the data-to-accountability pipeline a group like this could contribute to. The discussions highlighted the insufficiency of legacy systems to provide data needed for accountability, the lack of integration of data across systems and actors, and the unavailability of data at the most appropriate scale for decision-making.

One key issue discussed was the lack of policy frameworks for integrating national climate policy efforts with Non-State Actors (NSAs), the capacity gap to conduct transparency evaluation, and the lack of infrastructure to support the work. The discussions brought up the following points:

- Integration frameworks for NSAs within the Global Stocktake (GST)

- Need for open-source, plug-and-play digital infrastructure as a public good

- A focus on data sharing agreements that allow for different organizations to freely and confidently share data and ensure fair use

- Work toward disaggregating data from the country-level to subnational level to enable insights to better facilitate policy implementation where it occurs

- Data granularity to understand which policies/actions are effective in achieving mitigation goals

With these key insights in mind, we worked toward identifying opportunities for our wider community of climate data experts to work together and co-develop community outputs.

The discussions on this topic highlighted the need for enhanced ambition NDCs that clearly account for NSA contributions, a clear communication/process to support their integration within national processes/policies/NDCs, and the need to understand clear barriers for implementing and filling the ambition gap. We discussed a successful political process for the GST and digitally-enabling the independent global stocktake (DIGS), how data providers can contribute to and support accountability through the GST process, and where overlap exists within different initiatives.

What can we do as a CAD2.0 community to support the data-to-accountability pipeline?

- Map existing data portals relevant to climate action;

- Identify common collaboration points;

- Determine standards and protocols for climate data interoperability, enabling it to be easily found and integrated for analysis as well as general data/metadata standards;

- Provide frameworks/methodologies for country-level use and partnerships with governments to support their data efforts; and

- Host interactive, collaborative events like design sprints, hackathons and datathons for climate data collaboration and awareness.

We surveyed CAD 2.0 working group members and asked them to identify their key priorities for 2023 that are related to digitally-enabling the independent global stocktake (DIGS). We then synthesized the responses from the members to find common themes between their work (i.e. groups seeking funds to support activities, or working on developing a data platform etc.). As an output from this meeting, we have developed a graphic describing the key goals for 2023 for some of the Climate Action Data 2.0 members (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Climate Action Data 2.0 (CAD2.0) members described their strategic priorities for 2023 relevant to digitally-enabling the independent global stocktake (DIGS). This graphic represents our synthesis for what each group is working on as a summary of what each actor needs or is working to develop throughout the year as part of the data to accountability pipeline.

Mapping the current initiatives can reveal overlaps and opportunities for connections around strategic priorities. This view reduces duplication of effort and facilitates coordinated communication, outreach, and joint funding. One emerging trend in the strategic priorities map is the focus on data discoverability–or how data can easily be accessed and utilized. Many of our CAD2.0 members are working to ensure that data is easily found and accessed by those who need it. These efforts promote transparency and accountability in climate data collection and reporting. By making data discoverable, stakeholders can verify the accuracy and completeness of the reported data, promoting trust and confidence in the data and the decisions made based on it. Without a clear understanding of available data and how to access it, we cannot identify key gaps and inform better policy and decision making.

Within the CAD2.0 ecosystem organizations are prioritizing several data discoverability initiatives in 2023, which are in various stages of development:

- OpenClimate [OpenEarth]

- Net Zero Tracker [DDL and others]

- Carbon Call Data Discoverability [Climateworks and others]

- Github for Nature [MRV Collective]

- OpenGHGMap [NTNU]

- Driving adoption of the Trust Framework [IceBreaker One]

- Race to Zero [Climate Champions Team]

- Data Exchange [OS-Climate]

- Scope three data with PACT methodology and API [WBCSD]

Data itself is not the end goal. The reason that digitally-enabling the independent global stocktake (DIGS) is such a key activity is because of the important link between data-driven decision making and accountability. Without the data, we will not be able to determine if actors are engaged in climate actions that have real impact. However, it is not the data alone but rather the key indicators and the right data that highlights impactful actions and can enable the ratcheting mechanism for ever increasing ambition.

We will continue these conversations in Bonn, Germany in June at the UNFCCC Technical Dialogues at the Subsidiary Body Intersessional meetings - if you will be in Bonn in June or you are interested to follow up on the discussions please reach out to us.

Learn more about the Climate Action Data 2.0 community, sign up for the meetings, reach out to climateaction@openearth.org for any questions or to connect further.

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Jul 2022

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