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Joint GCOS/GOFC-GOLD Workshop on Observations for Climate Change Mitigation

5-7 May 2014, WMO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland

Workshop documents

Workshop Report

Workshop Concept Note


Participant List

All presentations as zip file (size: 33.8 MB)


The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), in collaboration with the Land Cover Project Office from the Global Observation for Forest Cover and Land Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD), is organizing an international workshop to consider the climate observation requirements to support mitigation to climate change. The workshop will bring together approximately 25 representatives of sectors in which mitigation to climate variability and climate change is, or is likely to become, an important concern. These also include the communities of agriculture, forestry, and land use.

The goals of the workshop are to identify observational requirements for mitigation, to review the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) and associated guidelines to determine their adequacy for mitigation, and to develop a plan to address these gaps and deficiencies identified. The workshop results will directly feed into the preparation of the next GCOS Progress Review and the new GCOS Implementation Plan, to be developed in the 2015-2016 timeframe. Major outcomes of the workshop will be sought, including:

1. A statement on the general adequacy of observations to support climate change mitigation and identification of further work on the assessment of adequacy that may be undertaken in support of programmes represented in the workshop (UNFCCC, FAO, ESA, GFOI, CIFOR, IPCC, etc.).

2. Identification of the requirements for observations and their use in monitoring to support climate services addressing mitigation needs, in particular in the context of the forest, land use, and agriculture sectors.

3. Identification of the requirements for observations to support research into mitigation, such as to be undertaken under the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN REDD).

4. Strategic guidance on what steps the GCOS Programme should take in the upcoming years to address the needs for observations for climate change mitigation, in particular in the context of its preparation of a new GCOS Implementation Plan by 2016.

5. To provide guidance for technical communities closely aligned to GOFC-GOLD to start developing better guidance and assessments to support data producers (i.e., space agencies, and observation networks) and users (climate sciences, mitigation stakeholders, etc.).

The participants will develop conclusions and recommendations that will highlight potential actions that advance support of observation networks, regional mitigation initiatives, and the development of new climate change mitigation policy documents. These recommendations should be linked to the objectives of UNFCCC, UN REDD, FAO, and other international organizations. A report will be published based on the outcomes of the workshop, which will then be disseminated by both GCOS and GOFC-GOLD.


Mitigation is one of the two central approaches in the international climate change process, along with adaptation. It involves human interventions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to enhance their removal from the atmosphere, including by forests, vegetation or soils that absorb carbon. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the largest contributing gas to the anthropogenic greenhouse effect. In the 200 years since 1800, levels have risen by over 30%, and since they are currently rising even more steeply, leading to the most dramatic change in the atmospheric composition in at least 650,000 years, international action on mitigation has to be taken urgently. According to the IPCC, there is a significant mitigation potential on a global scale, including the increased use of clean technologies and improved energy efficiency for all sectors. The carbon market has great potential for cost-effective mitigation, but needs long-term policy certainty to deliver. For more information, please visit the website of the IPCC Working Group III, which assesses all relevant options for mitigating climate change.

Mitigation to a changing climate has received considerable attention over the last years at all levels, including negotiations under the UNFCCC. As most of the mitigation actions will take place at local and/or sub-national level, climate information are needed to support development, implementation and monitoring of such activities will be needed at the same level, but possibly with different requirements for each sector for which mitigation is a concern.

As it is GCOS' goal to provide comprehensive information on the total climate system, involving a multidisciplinary range of physical, chemical and biological properties as well as atmospheric, oceanic, hydrological, cryospheric and terrestrial processes, its' main task is to meet all climate related observation and monitoring requirements from local to global scales. Thus, it is an integral part of the observation and monitoring pillar of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).

Supporting documents

Session 2 - Evolving needs from a developing country perspective: Africa's greenhouse-gas budget is in the red (C.Mbow; Nature, 2014)

Session 2 - Evolving needs from a developing country perspective: A full greenhouse-gases budget of Africa (R.Valentini et al.; Biogeosciences, 2014)

Session 3 - Observation needs for Mitigation; Space-based observations on fire: Global night-time fire season timing and fire count trends using the ATSR instrument series (O.Arino et al.; Remote Sensing of Environment, 2011)

Background documents

The GOFC-GOL/REDD+ Sourcebook of methods and procedures for monitoring and reporting anthropogenic GHG emissions and removals associated with deforestation, gains and losses of carbon stocks in forests, remaining forests, and forestation (February 2014)

The IPCC Guidelines on National GHG Inventories - Vol.1 (Overview) General Guidance and Reporting (2006)

The IPCC Guidelines on National GHG Inventories - Vol.4 AFOLU (2006)

The IPCC Good Practice Guidance on LULUFC (2003)

GFOI Methods and Guidance - Integrating remote-sensing and ground-based observations for estimations of emissions and removals of greenhouse gases in forests (January 2014)

FCCC Compilation of information on NAMAs to be implemented by developing country Parties (SBSTA38, June 2013)

FCCC SBSTA23, Research and systematic observation (L.17) on GCOS national reporting

FCCC SBSTA27, Research and systematic obsrevation (L.14) on GCOS national reporting