Editor's choice of free-to-view papers: focus on NDCs under the Paris Agreement

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Editor’s Choice: Focus on nationally-determined contributions (NDCs)

Under the Paris Agreement, the international community is committed to limiting global warming to “well below” two degrees from pre-industrial levels, with the aim of going even further and levelling out at 1.5 degrees.  The Paris Agreement calls on all its member countries - developed and developing alike - to curb their emissions of greenhouse gases, as their contribution to meeting these global goals.  Over 170 governments tabled their “intended nationally determined contributions” in the run-up to the Paris Climate Conference, and most governments have since confirmed these as part of the formal process of becoming parties to the Paris Agreement.  For many developing countries, the tabling of a “nationally-determined contribution” (NDC) under the Paris Agreement represents the first time they have set a domestic target to limit their emissions.  For these, the process of determining their NDC typically involved complex internal debate, often also including detailed technical analysis of emission scenarios and the feasibility of different proposals.  This, however, is just the beginning: under the Paris Agreement, NDCs must be updated every five years and, if the global goals are to be met, they must be significantly scaled-up.  The ongoing “Talanoa Dialogue” under the UN climate change process will help assess progress in meeting the global goals and inform national-level decision-making on the next round of NDCs.

This new Editor’s choice collection brings together papers that focus on NDCs in a variety of countries in Africa and Latin America.  Some papers present insights on the preparation process that led to a particular country’s NDCs, while others look forward to the next round, considering what might be economically feasible, or indeed “fair”, for a country to commit to.  Another theme is the alignment between NDCs and other domestic and international aspirations, including the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Together, these papers go beyond the headlines to explore what lies behind particular NDCs – what they mean in practice, on the ground - and what commitments we might expect from countries in the future, as they seek to balance competing domestic forces and interests.  In many ways, these papers lie at the heart of Climate Policy’s aims and scope – to shed light on the realities of climate policy-making and thus help countries and stakeholders to better respond to the challenge of climate change. 

Climate Policy publishes ground-breaking research and insightful commentary on all the issues on the COP 23 agenda, as well as on political and policy developments outside the negotiating halls. 

Stay up-to-date on all aspects of the global response to climate change with Climate Policy - sample some of our recently published papers for free below, join our email mailing list for alerts on new papers, and follow us on twitter @climate_policy and our blog.

Also from the Founding Editor

Planetary Economics

Michael Grubb

How well do our assumptions about the global challenges of energy, environment and economic development fit the facts?

Energy prices have varied hugely between countries and over time, yet the share of national income spent on energy has remained surprisingly constant. The foundational theories of economic growth account for only about half the growth observed in practice. Despite escalating warnings for more than two decades about the planetary risks of rising greenhouse gas emissions, most governments have seemed powerless to change course.

Planetary Economics shows the surprising links between these seemingly unconnected facts. It argues that tackling the energy and environmental problems of the 21st Century requires three different domains of decision-making to be recognised and connected. Each domain involves different theoretical foundations, draws on different areas of evidence, and implies different policies.

The book shows that the transformation of energy systems involves all three domains - and each is equally important. From them flow three pillars of policy – three quite distinct kinds of actions that need to be taken, which rest on fundamentally different principles. Any pillar on its own will fail.

Only by understanding all three, and fitting them together, do we have any hope of changing course. And if we do, the oft-assumed conflict between economy and the environment dissolves – with potential for benefits to both. Planetary Economics charts how.