Guidelines for Climate Change Mitigation Evaluations: Part I

Work on the guidelines for climate change mitigation evaluations has progressed since my last post. From this link you can find the first part of the guidelines. Overall the guidelines are expected to lend a hand on some of the technical challenges (in the second part – yet to be written) while in the first part clarify some of the conceptual challenges. Well, see for yourselves.

You think there are no conceptual challenges in evaluating climate mitigation? Good for you. I believe that there are a significant number of conceptual challenges, and they start with the question of how any given intervention can prove that it is having impact now, and how this impact will last once the project is over. These attribution challenges become more pronounced the more indirect the project affects the emission of greenhouse gases. The paper describes how straightforward program theory can be for local investments, and how the program theory becomes more complicated when the projects work on changing more fundamental aspects of human behavior.

How to evaluate programs, policies and projects that focus on capacity building and soft measures?
Many projects and programs today are not actually focusing on putting hardware on the ground. They are focusing on capacity building for technicians and electricity grid engineers, for managers and politicians, on raising awareness for energy conservation with homeowners and shopowners but also bankers, they might sponsor a guarantee or securitization program for a bank so that the bank would lend money to electricity cooperatives for hydropower plants. The CO2-impact of all of these programs will be indirect, as it is the home-owners and the electricity customers who will ultimately be not emitting greenhouse gases that they would be emitting otherwise. But still, without the projects the emission reduction would not have happened. Crucial preconditions would have been lacking for the emission reduction to take place.
 
The result of the meta-evaluations was a framework that summed up the typical barriers to climate change mitigation in the Theory of No Change. This program theory indicates what needs to be in place or no change will happen. The guidelines pick up that thread and put the Theory into a context of applicability on different geographic levels.
 
When you read it...
We hope you will enjoy reading (and applying) these guidelines. You will notice that we could have used many more examples. We could say now that we did not want to bloat the paper with too many references. That would be true. However, we still think that you could help us by contributing your own examples, from the context of your work, or from your experiences. So: send your evaluations and other practice examples to us, and we will read them and test our own thinking with your examples.
 
Of course any other comments are just as welcome!

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