By Gift Briton

To reach net-zero emissions by 2050, access to reliable climate data and information is crucial, world leaders say during a high-level event themed “Together4Transparency” at the ongoing conference on climate change (COP27).

Global leaders have stressed the need for all countries and actors to have access to reliable greenhouse gas emissions estimates, noting that such information plays a key role in reducing risks and uncertainties in order to attract financial support for action.

“The health of our planet – and life as we know it – depends on each of us doing our part to address the climate emergency and move us closer to net-zero emissions by 2050. We must act now to achieve results and ensure that promises made are promises kept.  But to ensure that, we need to have reliable climate data and information,”  Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad said during the opening ceremony.

“The reporting, review, and consideration of this climate data and information are referred to as ‘transparency’. Without it, we are left to act blindly, without knowledge of our circumstances and our impacts. This is why transparency is at the very core of the Paris Agreement, and everything we do here.”

In his opening remarks, former US Vice President Al Gore also called for “radical transparency” to guide countries and organizations toward a net-zero emissions future, observing that “you can’t manage what you cannot measure”.

Sharing similar sentiments, Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), Marianne Karlsen, UN Climate Change Transparency Director, Donald Cooper and Egyptian YOUNGO representative, Riham Refaat, reinforced the role of the Enhanced Transparency Framework in ensuring that the Paris Agreement is effective and credibly implemented.

Turning to the private sector, IKEA’s Chief Sustainable Officer Pär Stenmark noted that, transparency is about corporate accountability, becoming a vehicle of change, and providing a “backbone for the better”.

Also, African Director of the High-Level Climate Champions, Bogolo Kenewendo, speaking from a policy-making perspective, noted that transparency is about “making good on promises”, elaborating that is about knowing what we’ve committed to, what is being done, and what more we need to do.

From her view, transparency doesn’t apply only to countries’ actions but it is also about how non-state actors, including the private sector, can help countries to reach their nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

Furthermore, Global Climate Ambassador and CEO of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator Racquel Moses defined transparency as “a carrot, not a stick”. In her view, transparency challenges climate actors to do more, to do better, and in identifying leaders, it helps us all to all learn from those who are blazing the trail.

Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change Nisreen Elsaim challenged, “Are we really ready to be transparent, given how judgmental people can be when information is shared?”

For governments, Elsaim argued, the incentive lies in making promises – but not always in fulfilling them, which is why transparency is a critical part of holding countries accountable.