SDG Knowledge Weekly: Climate NDCs, Ambition and Local Action
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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Reports launched during COP 23 call for higher ambition on mitigation, finding that the NDCs, if achieved, would likely cap warming by only 3 degress Celsius.

One paper finds that Brazil and many OECD states have peaked their emissions already, and that China and Mexico are projected to peak by 2030.

As the UN Climate Change Conference concluded its second week in Bonn, Germany, advocacy groups and analysts released papers and reports on the achievement of nationally determined contributions (NDCs), increasing ambition and enhancing transparency, and ways for local governments in the US to meet their targets in spite of national-level policy rollback.

On NDC achievement and ambition, the New Climate Institute released a report titled, ‘The Long and Steep Climb Towards a 1.5 °C World,’ on perceptions of NDC implementation, with the aim of assessing confidence that countries’ targets will be met. The report finds optimism with respect to target achievement, however, it notes that alignment of sectoral policies poses a challenge, and that climate mitigation goals may not stimulate sufficient motivation to enable sector transitions. In contrast, however, the New Climate Institute also launched the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) results for 2018, with Germanwatch and CAN International. The CCPI evaluates 56 countries, and finds that none are on a well-below 2 degrees pathway. Similarly, a briefing by Civil Society Review calls for higher ambition, noting that NDCs, if achieved, would likely only cap warming by 3 degrees Celsius.

A WRI working paper examines trends in countries’ reaching peak greenhouse gas emissions over time. The authors assess which countries have already peaked and when, or whether they have made a commitment that implies a peak in emissions. They find that 49 countries already peaked as of 2010 and, based on 2010 data and projections, that 57 countries are expected to peak by 2030. A summary blog by the authors is also available. While most of the countries that have already peaked are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it is notable that Brazil also peaked their emissions by 2010, and that member states projected to peak by 2030 include China and Mexico.

WRI also released a working paper titled, ‘Enhancing NDCs by 2020: Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.’ Given that all parties to the Agreement have the opportunity to communicate new or updated NDCs by 2020, this paper presents a menu of options for how they can enhance their NDCs. Options include 1) enhancing the level of mitigation ambition, 2) elaborating on the adaptation content, 3) adding measures to strengthen implementation and 4) improving the clarity, transparency and understanding of the NDC. The authors also published a companion blog post.

Looking toward 2018, when the Facilitative Dialogue will take place, IDDRI presented a policy brief, ‘Beyond Emission Targets: Ambition in the context of the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue.’ The authors advocate adopting a broader perspective with respect to the achievement of low-carbon goals, noting that a credible transition towards Paris’ long-term goal of carbon neutrality in the second half of the century requires deeper emission reductions before 2030. IDDRI recommends that the term “ambition” be viewed as a combination of target-setting, preparedness to implement, and a capacity to sustain further reductions over time, and that decision-makers take into account sectoral realities to develop a long-term vision achieved via the establishment of robust climate policy governance.

On the more technical side, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) published a factsheet on information and accounting that reviews the top-down components that promote ambition and accountability with respect to mitigation effort tracking. It considers decisions contemplated by parties relating to mitigation, explores their inter-relationships and the rationales for linkage, and presents different options regarding decision coordination. C2ES also issued a factsheet on implementation and compliance, which looks at overarching issues relating to Article 15 of the Paris Agreement, on the mechanism for implementation of the Agreement. The factsheet explores issues and options that have emerged with respect to specific elements of the mechanism’s design and operation. A third C2ES factsheet, on the linkages between Articles 13, 14 and 15, outlines issues and options regarding potential linkages between the transparency framework and the global stocktake of collective progress towards long-term goals.

On enhancing transparency, the WRI-led Project for Advancing Climate Transparency (PACT) consortium published a two-part working paper titled, ‘Designing the Enhanced Transparency Framework.’ Part 1 looks at reporting under the Paris Agreement while Part 2 examines review. The reporting paper describes the five streams of information to be conveyed by countries under the Paris Agreement, considering the “what” “how” and “when” of reporting. On the review side, the authors draw on lessons from previous experiences and present options in the modalities, procedures and guidelines that will govern the process. Complementary posts on WRI’s Insider blog look at the design of the Paris Agreement’s transparency framework and the negotiation of the Agreement’s implementation guidelines taking place at COP 23.

On local achievement of NDC targets, ICLEI USA published a guide for local governments to go beyond national pledges. The document titled, ‘Localizing the Paris Agreement: A Guide for Local Government Action in Support of the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution,’ examines the relationship between community and national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, taking a sectoral approach to recommend reduction measures that can enable the US to collectively meet targets despite national-level policy changes. An “alternative” US delegation comprised of five US Senators made headlines for their pledges to keep the commitments that were made in Paris.

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