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Beyond headline mitigation numbers: We need more transparent and comparable NDCs to achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change

Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) were key to reaching the Paris Agreement and will be instrumental in implementing it.

Pieter Pauw, Richard J. T. Klein, Adis Dzebo / Published on 1 March 2018

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Pauw, W. P., Klein, R. J. T., Mbeva, K., Dzebo, A., Cassanmagnago, D. and Rudloff, A. (2018). Beyond headline mitigation numbers: we need more transparent and comparable NDCs to achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change. Climatic Change, 147(1–2). 23–29.

Research was quick to identify the “headline numbers” of NDCs: if these climate action plans were fully implemented, global mean warming by 2100 would be reduced from approximately 3.6 to 2.7°C above pre-industrial levels.

Promoting renewable energy is the most common mitigation strategy in NDCs.

However, beyond these headline mitigation numbers, NDCs are more difficult to analyse and compare. UN climate negotiations have so far provided limited guidance on NDC formulation, which has resulted in varying scopes and contents of NDCs, often lacking details concerning ambitions.

If NDCs are to become the long-term instrument for international cooperation, negotiation, and ratcheting up of ambitions to address climate change, then they need to become more transparent and comparable, both with respect to mitigation goals, and to issues such as adaptation, finance, and the way in which NDCs are aligned with national policies.

Our analysis of INDCs and NDCs shows that they omit important mitigation sectors, do not adequately provide details on costs and financing of implementation, and are poorly designed to meet assessment and review needs.

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SEI authors

Pieter Pauw
Pieter Pauw

SEI Affiliated Researcher

Richard J.T. Klein
Richard J. T. Klein

Team Leader: International Climate Risk and Adaptation; Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Adis Dzebo
Adis Dzebo

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Topics and subtopics
Climate : Climate policy, Mitigation

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