A nationally determined contribution (NDC) is a non-binding national plan highlighting climate change mitigation, including climate-related targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Climate Change and NDCs
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time. It is a global problem with far-reaching consequences for both people and the environment. International agreements such as the Paris Agreement recognize the need for all countries to take action on climate change in order to avoid the most severe impacts of a warming world.
The Paris Agreement, which was adopted in 2015, calls on all Parties to prepare, communicate and maintain successive NDCs that reflect their highest possible ambition. In doing so, Parties take into account different national circumstances. NDCs become increasingly ambitious over time as Parties strive to meet the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Climate action plans submitted by Parties before the adoption of the Paris Agreement are also considered NDCs under the agreement.
The NDC Partnership was launched in 2015 to support countries in enhancing the ambition and implementation of their NDCs. The Partnership brings together a diverse group of over 60 governments, businesses, international organizations, civil society and research institutions.
Thus far, Parties to the Paris Agreement have communicated targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of their NDCs. These Nationally Determined Contributions will be revisited and updated every five years in accordance with the agreement. The first set of NDCs were submitted in 2015, prior to the entry into force of the Paris Agreement. As of October 2020, 180 Parties have made commitments under the Paris Agreement. Together, these NDCs cover close to 97% of global emissions.
When submitting their NDCs, Parties are required to include:
1. A description of how the NDC is related to the long-term temperature goal;
2. The time frame for implementing and achieving the NDC;
3. A quantified economy-wide target for either mitigating greenhouse gas emissions or adapting to the adverse effects of climate change; and
4. Information on how the NDC will be achieved, including a description of policies and measures.
NDCs are voluntary, but they must represent a progression beyond a Party’s previous efforts and reflect its highest possible ambition. In order to track progress towards meeting NDCs, Parties are required to report periodically on their implementation. The first round of NDC reporting is due in 2023.
Climate Change Mitigation
As parties enhance their NDCs over time, they are expected to take into account different national circumstances. One example is a Party’s capability to implement ambitious climate change mitigation actions, which is generally related to its level of economic development. Other relevant factors include a Party’s climate change mitigation history, its capacity to make financial investments, and its ability to transfer technology.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement will require significant changes in greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy. NDCs can contribute to this process by putting Parties on a path towards low-emission and climate-resilient development.
To date, Parties have communicated a wide range of targets for reducing emissions as part of their NDCs. These targets cover all sectors of the economy, including energy, industry, buildings, transport, forestry and agriculture. A number of parties have included conditional targets in their NDCs. For instance, some Parties have committed to increasing their ambition if certain conditions are met, such as the provision of international support.
Climate Change Adaptation
NDCs also provide an opportunity for parties to address climate change adaptation. Many NDCs include plans and actions for adapting to the impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, floods and droughts. As with mitigation, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to adaptation. The actions that a Party takes to adapt to climate change will be based on its particular circumstances, including its vulnerability to climate impacts and its capacity to respond.