Cuba became the 13th country to submit its 2020 nationally determined contribution (NDC) on 17 September. The updated NDC, which has a ten-year time frame from 2020-2030, outlines Cuba’s strengthened climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and actions. The NDC prioritizes the energy and the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sectors, and notes that mitigation actions will require financial support in technology transfer and capacity building.

According to Climate Watch – an initiative managed by the World Resource Institute (WRI) that contributes an NDC tracking database to the NDC Partnership – the updated NDC still lacks a binding greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target. It is nevertheless viewed as an enhancement of Cuba’s previous NDC.

The NDC informs about Cuba’s 2017 state plan to confront climate change, known as the 100-year plan, ‘Tarea Vida’ (Life Task) – a roadmap that includes a ban on new home construction in potential flood zones, the introduction of heat-tolerant crops to cushion food supplies from droughts, and the restoration of Cuba’s sandy beaches to help protect the country against coastal erosion. It also notes that Cuba’s Constitution of 2019 explicitly mentions the goal of responding to climate change through, among others, “the eradication of irrational patterns of production and consumption.”

In the energy sector, Cuba commits to:

  • generate 24% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, to avoid the emission of an estimated 30.6 million kilotons of carbon dioxide equivalent (ktCO2eq);
  • increase energy efficiency in commercial, institutional, residential, and agriculture sectors, to avoid the emission of an estimated 700,000 ktCO2eq; and
  • reduce carbon-intensive ground transportation, to avoid the emission of an estimated one million ktCO2eq annually, by cutting fossil fuel consumption in vehicles by 50% by 2030.

In the AFOLU sector, Cuba commits, inter alia, to increase its forest coverage to 33%, or by 165,000 hectares, in the period 2019-2030, removing 169,9 million tons of atmospheric CO2. In livestock, Cuba plans to install 5,000 solar pumping systems  by 2030. In the swine sector, Cuba commits to 100% treatment of waste waters in order to reduce an estimated 8 million ktCO2eq in emissions annually in the period 2020-2030.

While stating its increased ambition, Cuba reiterates the voluntary and non-prescriptive nature of the NDCs, to be assessed in the context of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) and the country’s sustainable development goals. “All Parties are to undertake and communicate ambitious efforts,” the NDC states, and “efforts of all Parties will represent a progression over time, while recognizing the need to support developing country Parties for the effective implementation of [the Paris] Agreement.”

Cuba’s updated NDC includes a safeguards section, which emphasizes that compliance and greater ambition will depend on the fulfillment of international obligations under the UNFCCC. Cuba, the NDC explains, retains the right to adjust its Contribution in the event of inadequate financial, technological, and capacity-building support, in the event of “natural extreme disasters or any other force majeure,” and “as a consequence of the negative impact of the strengthening of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed” by the US. 

Cuba joins NorwayMoldovaSingaporeJapanChileNew ZealandRwandaJamaica, and Viet Nam – countries that have submitted an updated or updated their first NDC in 2020. Also in 2020, Andorra submitted its second NDC, and Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan submitted their first NDC. Together, these NDCs represent less than 4% of global GHG emissions. [Cuba’s Updated NDC (in Spanish)] [Summary in English] [UNFCCC NDC Registry]

By Beate Antonich, Thematic Expert for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy