Paris Agreement Double Counting

“There can be no double counting of emissions reductions and there can be no production of hot air. In this context, we cannot support the transfer of credits or quotas from the Kyoto Protocol until 2020, which would jeopardize what we are trying to achieve with the Paris Agreement. Avoid double counting: at COP21 in Paris, countries were visibly concerned about double counts; the need to avoid it is mentioned no less than seven times in the Paris Agreement and in the accompanying COP decision (Decision 1/CP.21). The Paris CoP stipulates that double counts in Article 6 should be avoided on the basis of a “corresponding adjustment” – a term you will often hear at COP25. An adjustment accordingly means that when one country sells emission reductions to another, it must adjust its own emission levels accordingly. In other words, it must increase its emission level in its NDCs to compensate for the fact that it has sold certain emission reductions in another country. Conversely, the country that acquired the credit is adjusting its own emission reductions downwards. But experts point out that poor accounting could make the problem worse if no solution is found. Imagine, for example, a wind turbine in India that reduces CO2 emissions by one tonne per year. Starting in 2020, when the trading system linked to the agreement comes into force, a country like Germany could theoretically buy that amount and count it as one of its reduction targets, whereas India could not.

When BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) met in Beijing in October 2019 to discuss climate change, they reaffirmed their determination to conclude discussions on Article 6, including “ensuring environmental integrity and preventing double counting.” Brazil is likely to try to advance its controversial position on double counting and transitioning old Kyoto Protocol projects and units, possibly with the support of India and Russia. According to a new study in Science, countries must approve a set of rules in the Paris agreement that avoids a “double counting” of emissions reductions or risks undermining the agreement. It should be noted, however, that the term “double counting” is not included in Article 6.4. Instead, Brazil has a provision “considered a key” by Brazil, as indicated in a report on the origin of the Article 6 text published in 2018 by the European Capacity Building Initiative (ECBI). “The most important outstanding issue is to operate the Paris agreement,” Schneider told AFP, otherwise “the promises on paper may not match what the atmosphere sees.” Perhaps the biggest concern is a system that would allow for “double counting,” meaning that emissions reductions could be blamed on the objectives of the party selling the credits and those who buy them. (Brazil`s position and the issue of double counting are explained below). It is clear that any international transfer of emission reductions should not result in higher overall emissions than if the participating countries had met their targets individually. This could be guaranteed by double accounting, in which the country that sells emission credits, adjusts its emissions upwards and the country receiving the emission credits adjusts downwards for the same amount. “A potential compromise is to allow banking activity with a few loans before 2020, as long as we have a strong accounting system for the future, as it depends on the long-term future. In principle, I could agree, except that the next 10 years will be important for 1.5C – and if we let in a few hundred million tonnes, you basically abandoned it.┬áThe need to avoid double counting is set out in Article 6 of the agreement, but countries did not complete the “settlement” on the subject in Poland last year and it will be discussed again at a UN conference in Santiago, Chile, in December.