2020 was to be a critical year for addressing climate change. It is the year in which most nations must submit new or revised national climate action plans, or NDCs. The science shows that during the 2020s, emissions will have to decrease by 45% if global warming is to be kept to 1.5 °C , according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The first round of NDCs has fallen short of reaching the agreed climate goals. But countries can learn from this first round and build on these lessons when submitting more ambitious and more effective NDCs in a second round.

Much has been written about the need to make NDCs more ambitious. A special issue of Climate Policy edited by SEI’s Senior Research Fellow Richard Klein and Associate Pieter Pauw aims to stimulate debate on how to make NDCs more effective. It identifies three ways to increase effectiveness: transparency, coherence and implementability.

“Ambition alone is not enough. In order to achieve the NDCs, they also need to be more effective”

— Richard J.T. Klein


As things stand, NDCs are difficult to compare. They are also not necessarily clear on which types of emissions or which sectors are included. Making NDCs transparent is one element that would increase effectiveness.

Video: Venni Arra and Andrea Lindblom / SEI


Countries have many different national priorities aside from climate policy. Climate policy is, however, intrinsically linked to development policy. Coherence between NDCs and national development plans is therefore another important element of making NDCs more effective.

Video: Venni Arra and Andrea Lindblom / SEI


An NDC is only a piece of paper so long as it is not implemented. “Implementability” is, therefore, a third important element that works towards more effective NDCs.

Video: Venni Arra and Andrea Lindblom / SEI

From climate change mitigation to adaptation to finance, SEI researchers are active across a range of topics that work towards ambitious implementation of the NDCs under the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. In particular, SEI focuses on ensuring integrated climate, energy, and sustainable development planning in its NDC work.