Open Government and Climate

By Carole Excell (Posted: April 28, 2016)

At the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015 countries adopted a legally binding global climate Agreement that seeks to avoid the impacts of climate change by limiting global warming to below 2°C. The Paris Agreement demands that countries can no longer make “business as usual” decisions and have to adopt voluntary “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) or plans on how they will reduce the release of greenhouse gases, adopt low carbon emission strategies and adapt to climate change. Climate change advocates acknowledge that progress on the new Agreement relies on the implementation of NDCs in a transparent, inclusive and equitable manner.

The Agreement is premised on enhanced transparency, accountability and participation: i.Transparency on greenhouse gas emissions, targets and their adequacy and the implementation of mitigation actions and adaptation efforts; ii.Transparency on the level of financial support, technology transfer and capacity building provided or received; iii.Transparency as part of the compliance and review process; iv.Transparency on policy and project level decision-making that can contribute to decarbonisation of the economy at national, subnational and company levels; v.Capacity building and public participation to enhance actions under the Agreement; vi.Measures to ensure the creation of accountable and inclusive institutions for national climate action.

These principles offer fertile soil for using open government reforms to advance climate action. Tracking the performance of the development and implementation of domestic policies to meet the ambition of the NDCs and ultimate objectives of the Paris Agreement is essential for ensuring accountability. There are concrete opportunities under the Agreement for designing enhanced transparency rules and modalities to enhance measurement, reporting and verification processes, and to develop inclusive and participatory decision-making processes.

The convening power of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) provides new opportunities for Governments to adopt climate commitments in National Action Plans (NAPs). While only a few countries have adopted such commitments to date (USA, Mexico, and France) many more are keen to learn and adopt open climate commitments in their NAPs.

As the incoming co-chairs of the OGP the World Resources Institute and the Government of France have produced guidance for integrating climate commitments in OGP National Action Plans under three themes.

  1. More transparent and participatory development of climate polices at the national and international level.
  2. Providing user-friendly data and information regarding climate-related action.
  3. Measures to ensure the creation of accountable and inclusive institutions for national climate action.

The Open Government Summit in Paris in December 2016 will provide an excellent opportunity to bring together the climate change and open government communities to accelerate progress on climate action. The OGP process enables governments to make real commitments on transparency and open government to help people and the planet address one of the world’s most serious and pressing environmental problems. WRI stands ready to provide support for countries committed to effective climate action. We would love to crowd source comments and thoughts from civil society and governments on how you perceive this work in your country and the open government innovations you think are possible. Open Government and Climate should no longer be seen as separate communities for spurring progress on climate action but have to potential to develop an integrated approach to help save our planet and the most vulnerable people impacted by climate change. - See more at: