We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
From 7 to 18 November governments from around the world gather in Marrakech, Morocco, for the annual UN talks on international action to combat climate change COP22. Discussions are focusing on articulating the systems whereby the landmark global agreement adopted in Paris last December will be implemented from 2021, and on keeping up ambitious climate action in the meanwhile ('pre-2020 action'). The conference also engages a wide range of non-state actors to accelerate progress towards the goals of the Paris agreement, to cut emissions and help vulnerable nations to adapt to climate change and build their clean, sustainable energy futures.
Over many years of involvement in developing and implementing EU climate policy, the JRC has accrued substantial technical expertise in a number of areas central to the international climate negotiations. This expertise is deployed during the conference in three distinct ways, all of them geared at advancing the EU's goals: scientific and technical advice to EU negotiators; contributions to debates engaging other delegations and their experts; and analyses released in time for the conference to inform related debates in the broader scientific and policy arena.
The JRC is member of the EU's negotiation team on technical matters pertaining to greenhouse gas emissions from land use and forestry, particularly in what concerns the inclusion of these emissions in the Paris agreement’s transparency system and in countries’ pledges (called Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs). JRC expertise also informs the EU’s views on other key aspects of the new agreement such as the arrangements for periodically assessing and reviewing countries’ pledges, among which the Global Stocktake (a regular review of mitigation, adaptation and support activities every five years); and the Facilitative Dialogue 2018.
During this year’s conference, JRC experts engage negotiators and experts from around the world at five events. Two of these are UNFCCC special meetings where JRC experts speak respectively on the development of an operational space capacity under EU's earth observation programme Copernicus to monitor fossil CO2 emissions using independent atmospheric observations and on the EU's experience in using Measurement, Reporting, Verification (MRV) systems.
The other three events are side-events at the EU Pavilion. At these the JRC showcases some of its most recent work. The first one, held on 8 November, featured two JRC experts who discussed the long-term prospects under current country pledges (NDCs). More specifically, they presented the results of recent JRC modelling exercises on NDCs and long-term scenarios to reach carbon neutrality in the second half of the century, shared their views on the transparency requirements to enable the land sector to contribute to climate goals as intended, and explained the modelling tools that the EU deploys to design climate policies.
The second of these side events, scheduled for 11 November, will present the results of the JRC report GECO 2016 – Global Energy and Climate Outlook: Road form Paris, and pay particular attention to the implications for Africa of the changes in the global energy system needed to meet the Paris goals. The third EU side-event featuring the JRC takes place on 14 November during the EU Energy Day. A JRC expert will present an upcoming study on the emission reductions and energy use changes in cities that are members of the EU Covenant of Mayors initiative.
Finally, in the run-up to COP22, the JRC has published reports on issues high on the international agenda. Recent publications include: an analysis of the prospects under current country pledges (GECO 2016 – Global Energy and Climate Outlook: Road form Paris and a complementary peer-reviewed research article); a JRC report on the contribution of land use emissions to the EU’s climate goals for 2030 (LULUCF contribution to the 2030 EU climate and energy policy); and a European Commission report on systems to monitor and verify CO2 emissions (Towards a European Operational Observing System to Monitor Fossil CO2 Emissions) to which the JRC contributed.
The JRC is also the lead author of the Global Climate Observing System Implementation Plan 2016 mandated by the UN last year and expected to be adopted at this year’s meeting; and a contributing author to UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2016. The latter has drawn on the analysis that will be published as a JRC-PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency report Trends in Global CO2 Emissions: 2016. Another upcoming JRC publication is on the achievements of EU Covenant of Mayors cities up to 2016 (Covenant of Mayors: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Achievements and Projections (2016)).