In 2015, under the Paris Agreement, 196 Parties agreed to change their development paths to set the world on a path towards sustainable development, to limit global warming to to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Implementing the Paris Agreement requires economic and social transformation and ambitious climate action based on the best science available. In 2020, countries have submitted their climate action plans known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

NDCs are at the heart of the Paris Agreement, as the NDCs reveal the efforts each country is making to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their actions to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Paris Agreement requires each Party to define and report on their climate actions and prepare successive NDCs by 2020 and every five years after that (by 2020, 2025 and 2030) and submit them to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat.

To increase ambition and climate action, successive NDCs will represent a progression compared to previous NDCs and reflect their highest possible ambition. Starting in 2023 and then every five years, governments will take stock of the Agreement’s implementation to assess collective progress towards achieving the purpose and long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. The result of the Global Stocktake (GST) will inform the preparation of subsequent NDCs.

NDC synthesis report

On February 26, 2021, the UNFCCC published the first edition of the NDCs Report. The report includes 48 new or updated NDCs from 75 Parties (40% of the Paris Agreement Parties) and accounts for about 30% of global GHG emissions.

The Secretariat decided to issue the NDC synthesis report in two editions, and it is expected that the final version will be published before COP26 in 2021. Given the continued opportunity for Parties to report updated or new NDCs during 2021, the second edition of this report is likely to provide a more comprehensive and complete synthesis.

The report found that nearly all Parties provided the information needed to facilitate clarity, transparency, and understanding of NDCs. Governments are taking NDCs and the Paris Agreement very seriously, and the quality of NDCs, including data on mitigation targets, has significantly increased. Implementation is also addressed more comprehensively, including linkages with national planning and related regulatory and legislative processes and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The quality of the information provided has also increased dramatically, with many countries including mitigation and adaptation activities in their NDCs, economic diversification plans and provide information on climate vulnerability and measures to address it.

Although most Parties have increased their levels of ambition to reduce emissions and reinforced their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the level of ambition reported is lower than required. According to the report, the Parties’ total GHG emissions levels are expected to be 0.5%, lower in 2030 than in 2010.

Countries must redouble their climate efforts if they are to achieve the Paris Agreement. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has indicated that emission reduction ranges to meet the 1.5 °C temperature target would need to be 45% lower in net carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 than in 2010.

Although the report currently covers less than half of the Parties, there is a need for increased ambition to achieve the Paris Agreement. “This report shows that current levels of climate ambition are not on track to meet our Paris Agreement goals” Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change

Supporting developing countries to achieve their climate goals

There is an urgent need to raise the level of climate ambition. To cut emissions by 45% by 2030 and achieve the Paris Agreement, countries, governments, and companies need to make transformative decisions and commit to stronger climate action.

Many developing countries remain in dire need of financial support to implement climate action and to complement NDCs. Without adequate support and enabling climate action, developing countries will take longer to achieve their climate goals.

Climate finance is important for mitigation and adaptation. Large-scale investments are required to reduce emissions significantly, and in addition, financial resources help adapt and reduce the impacts of climate change. COP26 provides an opportunity for developed countries to fulfill their pledge and jointly mobilize $100 billion annually for developing countries; this commitment has yet to be fulfilled.

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash


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