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Monitoring implementation and effects of greenhouse gas mitigation policies: Steps to develop performance indicators

This paper, from the World Resources Institute, outlines three steps in developing indicators for monitoring performance: formulating a list of possible indicators, selecting indicators to monitor performance, and collecting and monitoring data.

Implementation of greenhouse gas emissions mitigation policies and actions can be enhanced through the use of indicators as part of regular monitoring. Indicators are specific, measurable metrics to demonstrate progress that occurs as a result of policy implementation. This working paper provides guidance for developing indicators that can assist policymakers and other stakeholders seeking to enhance the implementation of climate mitigation policies.

The first step is to formulate a list of possible indicators to track policy implementation and policy effects. Decision-makers can develop indicators at various levels of detail, both aggregated and disaggregated, and express them in absolute or relative terms. This paper categorizes policy monitoring indicators by five types: input, activity, intermediate effect, greenhouse gas effects, and non-greenhouse gas effects indicators. Input indicators track the delivery of resources to support policy implementation. Activity indicators track activities undertaken by the authority responsible for implementing the policy. Intermediate effects, greenhouse gas effects, and non-greenhouse gas effects indicators are designed to assess the results of the policy. Results relate to changes in behavior, technology, processes, or practices in relevant environmental, social, or economic conditions, including greenhouse gas emissions effects and sustainable development effects. The paper also briefly mentions transformation indicators to monitor transformational change at the sector or economy level.

The second step involves narrowing down the list of possible indicators to a selection of feasible and relevant indicators that will be used. A set of six principles can help to evaluate and shortlist a subset of indicators for use in regular monitoring. Selected indicators should be:

  • policy relevant;
  • representative of a variety of indicator types;
  • based on available data or on data that can be collected in a cost-effective manner;
  • supportive of meaningful comparisons among policies;
  • unambiguous and understandable; and
  • reported sufficiently frequently for meaningful change to be tracked.

Finally, decision-makers should collect data for the selected indicators. The data collection process begins with establishing data needs for each indicator and answering questions regarding the specific data that are required, whether existing data can be used, and the methods that can be used to collect any additional data. A monitoring plan documenting the data collection system should also be developed.

Download the paper here: Monitoring implementation and effects of greenhouse gas mitigation policies: Steps to develop performance indicators

Image credit: Jeff Attaway