9 Things to Know About National Climate Plans (NDCs)

Please note that this article was originally published by the World Resources Institute: https://www.wri.org/insights/assessing-progress-ndcs

As countries prepare to gather at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to advance the Paris Climate Agreement, attention is once again turned to its building blocks: countries’ 2030 climate commitments, known as nationally determined contributions ( NDCs).

While the Paris Agreement set out three global goals – limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and ideally 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), promoting adaptation and resilience, and aligning financial flows to a low-emission climate – Resilient development – NDCs are the basis. In their NDC, each of the 194 parties to the Paris Agreement must set out their targets for reducing emissions. Many also include climate adaptation plans and the financial needs for implementation.

Countries need to strengthen their NDCs on a regular five-year cycle. Most submitted their initial commitments in 2015 and updated them through 2021. A new, stronger round of NDCs is due in 2025.

WRI’s Climate Watch platform tracks more than 200 indicators across all NDCs. The new State of the NDCs The report analyzed this data to identify key trends and assess where NDCs stand now. The key to take away? Countries are making incremental progress in strengthening their NDCs, but what we really need to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement is urgent change.

Here’s what we know and what countries should consider when formulating new NDCs by 2025:

1) Despite some progress, countries must reduce their emissions at least 6 times the current pledge.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that global emissions must fall by at least 43% by 2030 from 2019 levels to reach the 1.5 degree target. In contrast, the current NDCs will only reduce global emissions by about 7% from 2019 levels. While this represents a 5.5 GtCO2e reduction compared to the original NDCs – almost equivalent to eliminating the United States’ annual emissions – countries will need to reduce emissions by sixfold to move towards 1.5 degrees C -Customize paths.

While more countries have now set greenhouse gas reduction targets than in the original NDCs, and countries have expanded their targets to cover more sectors and types of greenhouse gases, the impact of these improvements on emissions has been modest. More than 85% of the improvements are due to large countries increasing the severity of their targets rather than adding new targets or expanding targets to cover new sectors and gases. Finding ways to accelerate ambition is paramount to the success of the Paris Agreement.

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2) Countries strengthen adaptation plans, but progress needs to be accelerated and expanded.

In the current round of NDCs, countries have almost doubled the number of priority adaptation actions compared to their original NDCs. These actions demonstrate improved coverage of sectors and systems for adaptation, with a strong focus on food and nutrition security, water and nature-based solutions. Current adaptation plans also include a greater emphasis on equity than previous NDCs, with greater consideration of gender issues and inclusion of indigenous peoples.

However, more needs to be done to implement adaptation at the speed and scale that the climate crisis requires. Few countries’ NDCs include timeframes or indicators for implementation of adaptation plans, and fewer than half of current NDCs include adaptation monitoring, assessment and learning, elements critical to ensuring planned interventions translate into action on the ground .

3) The current level of climate finance is not sufficient to implement even part of the NDCs.

While countries are not required to disclose their climate finance needs in NDCs, 53% (89 countries representing 50% of the world’s population), all developing countries, provided an estimate of how much money they will need to implement their plans. These countries say they will need $4.3 trillion: $2.7 trillion for mitigation; $1.1 trillion for customization; and $475 billion unspecified.

Importantly, the stated needs of 51 countries total US$1.5 trillion to meet their “conditional” NDC pledges, which depend on receiving international funding to implement mitigation and adaptation plans. That figure dwarfs developed world pledges to provide developing countries with $100 billion annually through 2020 to support their climate action—a goal they have not yet met. A new collective financial target to come into force after 2025 is currently being negotiated. Financial estimates from the 89 countries that provided them underscore the need to mobilize significantly greater resources to implement the NDCs.

4) About 50% of developing countries include losses and damages in their NDCs.

Roughly the same number of countries in their current NDCs as in the first round refer to current or future costs of loss and damage – the impacts of climate change that go beyond what countries can adapt to. However, more and more countries are including information on loss and damage issues, such as: B. slow onset events, climate-related migration and provision of finance and capacity building for loss and damage. This suggests that countries can prioritize loss and damage elements even if they do not include cost figures in their NDC.

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Additionally, small island developing states (SIDS) are increasingly including loss and damage costs and related issues in their NDCs, suggesting that the most climate-vulnerable countries are prioritizing this information. Additional support for countries in analyzing loss and damage trends – including the use of climate scenarios – and approaches to address them, such as B. comprehensive risk management, could improve this information in future NDC rounds.

5) 81% of NDCs aim to increase renewable energy, but few specifically aim to reduce fossil fuel use.

In addition to economy-wide targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, most NDCs contain sector-specific measures. Those promoting renewable energy are among the most popular – 136 NDCs contain measures to promote renewable energy, and more than half of them contain quantified renewable energy targets.

But limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C also requires a drastic reduction in fossil fuel use, and far fewer NDCs specifically address this. Only 51 include measures on fossil fuel use, and only eight include measures to phase out or phase out fossil fuel use.

6) Most NDCs include measures on forests and land use, but the quality varies.

More than 140 NDCs include actions to protect existing ecosystems, manage workspaces to reduce emissions, and/or restore degraded ecosystems. 78 NDCs contain measures in all three categories.

However, the quality of these measures varies greatly. Just over half of NDCs have quantifiable targets related to land use and forestry, and very few include critical measures such as financial needs and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.

7) NDCs prioritize e-mobility but do not include other critical measures to reduce transport emissions.

A holistic approach to reducing emissions from transport includes avoiding unnecessary vehicle journeys, switching to more efficient modes of transport and improving vehicle and fuel efficiency. The current NDCs include vehicle improvements through the promotion of electric transport. Such measures have more than doubled from the first to the current NDCs.

However, enthusiasm for e-mobility was not matched by growth in other critical transport-related measures. Less than half of the NDCs include public transport measures. And active transport and low-carbon freight, shipping and aviation only feature in a handful of NDCs.

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The next round of NDCs should ensure balanced attention to measures to avoid unnecessary travel, switch to sustainable modes of transport and improve vehicles, taking into account both passenger and cargo sources.

(Learn more about transport in NDCs in WRIs research Paper, Sustainable Urban Mobility in the NDCs: The Essential Role of Public Transport.)

8) Only 15 of the 119 Global Methane Pledge signatories include a specific, quantified methane reduction target in their NDCs.

Countries committed to the Global Methane Pledge, launched at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, have agreed to collectively reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels. Around 80% of signatories include methane under the umbrella of their industry-wide GHG reduction targets, far fewer (only 15) include quantified methane-specific targets in their NDCs. As such, it is difficult to determine how the collective Global Methane Pledge goal will be met.

The next round of NDCs will offer signatories to the Global Methane Pledge the opportunity to demonstrate how they will contribute to collectively reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

9) NDCs increasingly recognize the importance of a just transition.

As support for just transitions has moved up the UNFCCC agenda, its recognition in countries’ NDCs has also increased. The idea of ​​a ‘just transition’ is to reduce the negative impacts of the transition to a zero-carbon economy on workers, communities and value chains, while ensuring that the benefits are shared fairly. Explicit attention to the idea in the early NDCs was almost non-existent, only appearing in the South African plan. In the current NDCs, 32 mention a just transition, albeit at different depths. Some mention the concept briefly – such as Mauritius and Iceland – while other parties – such as South Africa, Antigua and Barbuda – have integrated the concept more comprehensively, with paragraphs or dedicated just transition sections. The next round of NDCs, in addition to national guidelines, may detail these efforts.

What next for countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)?

As agreed at COP26 in Glasgow, countries are expected to further strengthen their NDCs this year. But in the run-up to COP27, progress seems to have plateaued.

As countries develop new plans ahead of 2025, it will be important to deliver not only incrementally more ambition, but also an entirely different level of ambition and a clear sense of the transformations that countries will pursue.

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