BC emissions inventories
Action 2.2: Mobilise voluntary compilation and reporting of black carbon inventories beyond EU, AC and UNECE
BC emissions from countries outside the EU, AC and UNECE have an impact in the Arctic as well. Furthermore, with black carbon being a significant SLCF, it can be argued that beyond international air pollution agreements, black carbon emissions are highly relevant for the climate goals of the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement. Potential inclusion of black carbon in NDCs submitted under the Paris Agreement is considered in Component 2.2a, while Component 2.2b highlights need for continued scientific synthesis of climate impacts of BC. Finally, with respect to mobilising black carbon emissions reporting beyond the EU, AC and the UNECE, Component 2.2c briefly identifies the opportunity for action and cooperation within the Forum for International Cooperation on Air Pollution (FICAP).
2.2b Scientific synthesis on climate impacts of BC
2.2b Funding of research, independent analysis and innovation Establishment and improvements of monitoring and inventories
2.2b Ongoing and future assessment cycles of IPCC
Component 2.2a. Inclusion of black carbon in NDCs submitted under the Paris Agreement
Within the UNFCCC, the landmark agreement on combating climate change is the Paris Agreement, reached at Conference of the Parties COP 21 in 2015. At COP 24 in 2018 in Katowice, a decision on the modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPGs) for the transparency framework for action and support referred to in Article 13 of the Paris Agreement was agreed (see Decision 18/CMA1). This decision with a purpose to establish a robust reporting and review system, made no mention of black carbon; thus, potential reporting of black carbon under the Paris Agreement is currently not foreseen. However, the Paris Agreement and the so-called enhanced transparency framework will develop over time, and therefore this component may lay foundations to enable formal black carbon emissions reporting under the Paris Agreement in the future (after 2030).
As an international agreement, the Paris Agreement is built as a bottom-up system in certain important aspects. The submission of the NDCs reflects this, as the agreement does not prescribe these contributions for each Party in a top-down approach. NDCs, where Parties describe the effort, they offer to contribute to the collective response to climate change, are prepared, communicated and maintained by the Parties themselves. A small number of countries included black carbon to different extents in their first NDCs. Countries may continue and further elaborate black carbon issues in upcoming NDCs.* If indeed a substantial number of countries are seeking to make their climate change mitigation contribution through black carbon emissions reductions and communicate this action in their NDCs, these countries may exercise the potential option of including black carbon emission trends in their Biennial Transparency Reports.
Since the recently agreed MPGs made no mention of BC, it is not possible for the Parties to include black carbon emissions data in their annually/biennially** submitted National Inventory Documents or accompanying Common Reporting Tables. However, there will probably be scope for Parties to report trends in national total black carbon emissions within so-called tracking of progress tables foreseen as part of Biennial Transparency Reports (to be submitted every two years starting at the latest at the end of 2024). Some further clarity can be expected with a COP decision on the Common Tabular Format tables for tracking progress in implementing and achieving NDCs. Such a decision is anticipated in December 2023 at COP 28 Any potential voluntary reporting of black carbon mitigation action and emissions in NDCs as well as Biennial Transparency Reports will be driven by the Parties to the Paris Agreement themselves. Support and coordinated impetus to this process could be provided by international networks of governments and organisations such as CCAC. Within the UNFCCC-PA forum, CCAC has become an influential voice advocating the inclusion of action on SLCFs in NDCs. CCAC undertakes capacity-building missions and has helped several countries to develop national black carbon inventories.
In the UNFCCC negotiations, the details for reporting in the enhanced transparency framework were discussed in Glasgow at COP 26, and are outlined the Decision 5/CMA.3. In the new transparency framework, all Parties will have to use the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for estimation of their emissions in the inventories. In 2019 the IPCC approved a refinement of the guidelines. Neither of these two documents provides guidance for estimation of black carbon emissions. In the negotiations of the reporting tables, possible inclusion of the 2019 IPCC Refinement is not foreseen and it seems unlikely that there will be great enthusiasm among Parties for expanding reporting requirements, even if non-mandatory, to other climate-relevant air pollutants in the near future. The first review of the MPGs (including the reporting tables and methodology) will happen in 2028, and no regular MPG review schedule is agreed so far.
In the methodological support of black carbon emission reporting within UNFCCC (and also beyond), IPCC work is crucial. The IPCC's Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories has commenced preparatory work to develop an IPCC Methodology Report on SLCFs. The establishment of the Expert Group on SLCFs and its work on SLCF inventory methodologies over the coming years is very important in terms of providing methodological guidelines for Parties. Necessity of such guidelines will be more obvious if reporting of black carbon emissions becomes an issue of negotiations and is encouraged to be reported under the Paris Agreement transparency framework. So far, three TFI Expert Meetings on SLCFs have taken place. Drafting, completion and approval of the SLCF inventory guidelines is set to take place within the seventh IPCC assessment cycle beginning in 2023.
*NDCs have to be updated every five years and have to represent a progression over time, as specified in Decision 1/CP.21. Parties with a time horizon until 2025 (2021-2025) in their first NDCs are requested to communicate a new NDC by 2020 and to do so every 5 years thereafter. Parties with a time horizon until 2030 (2021-2030) are requested to communicate a new or updated NDC by 2020 and to do so every 5 years thereafter.
**Annex I Parties under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol have the obligation to continue to submit annual GHG inventories, regardless if they are Parties or non-Parties to the Paris Agreement. Parties to the PA must use the MPGs for reporting. Developing country Parties submit their inventory together with their BTR biennially. Several flexibilities are granted to those developing countries that need it in the light of their capacities. Furthermore, least developed countries and small island developing states are offered additional discretion in reporting.
Component 2.2b. Scientific synthesis of climate impacts of BC
In terms of raising further attention to black carbon within the international climate policy arena, the importance of the IPCC synthesis work should be highlighted. The IPCC assessment reports have provided the guiding science on which climate policy is based, and the subsequent assessment reports (e.g. the working group and synthesis reports that will emerge from the seventh assessment cycle) will continue to quantify inter alia the radiative forcing of SLCFs including BC. Parallel to the IPCC assessment cycles, it is important to note the work done under the AMAP assessments. Past AMAP Assessment Reports, , , have analyzed the climate impacts of SLFCs (including BC) on the Arctic, and continuation of such work would complement the seventh IPCC assessment cycle. In both cases, it is important to note that an improved knowledge base is heavily dependent on research funding at all levels.
Component 2.2c. Mobilising voluntary reporting under FICAP
The Forum for International Cooperation on Air Pollution (FICAP) was established by Executive Body decision 2019/5 (ECE/EB.AIR/144/Add.1) and is convened by a task force under the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. It is intended to facilitate collaboration and cooperation on technical, scientific and policy issues related to air pollution in an effort to mitigate local and transboundary air pollution beyond the UNECE. In October 2022, the first FICAP Taskforce Meeting was held, with a follow-up meeting held in March 2023. FICAP could foster inter alia cooperation between European and Asian Countries for the compilation of Black Carbon Air emission inventories.