Implementing Nationally Determined Contributions

In 2015, countries signed the Paris Agreement, committing themselves to climate change-related, nationally determined contributions (NDCs, Art. 4). Since then, countries started to submit their national climate targets, despite the challenges. On one hand, the climate change mitigation targets contained in the NDCs are difficult to compare, while on the other hand, the total climate change mitigation measures and goals of the countries are not yet good enough to limit global warming to well below 2°C or possibly 1.5°C, as the scientific analyses from the 1.5C° Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates. 

Increasing ambitions

At the time the Paris Agreement was signed, it was already known that the NDCs in their entirety would not be sufficient to meet the temperature goals of the Agreement. For this reason, the countries agreed in Paris to review their NDCs for improvement and further development (increased ambition), to submit information at a later date and to either update or resubmit their contributions by 2020 at the latest. 

Due to the postponement of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (UNFCCC COP26) because of the Corona pandemic, the deadline was extended to 2021.

By UNFCCC COP 26, approximately 151 countries had submitted new or updated NDCs to the United Nation. Nevertheless, there is still a mitigation gap in the NDCs submitted. Therefore, the Glasgow Climate Pact, which was adopted at COP26, calls on all countries to revise existing NDCs again by the end of 2022 in view of the 1.5 degree Celsius° target, and in addition to the regular update cycle .

In order to ensure that the international community continues to strengthen its climate protection efforts in the coming years, the Paris Agreement provides for regular increases in ambition. Parties must update their NDCs every five years starting in 2020.

Two years before each country submits its NDCs, a comprehensive global stocktake of the progress made towards the achievement of the Paris Agreement goals will be carried out. This global stocktake is intended to help the countries determine whether or not they are fully on the right track for climate mitigation, climate adaptation and climate finance. The results of this analysis thus provide the direction for updating the NDCs.

Comparability of transparency reports

In order to achieve comparability of the Biennial Transparency Reports (BTRs) of all countries, the UNFCCC COP 24 in Katowice in December 2018 adopted an Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) applicable to all countries as part of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The rules and specifications necessary for this, which are essentially laid down in the so-called Modalities, Procedures and Guidelines (MPGs), were adopted at COP24 in Katowice as part of a comprehensive set of rules for the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. However, agreement could not yet be reached on certain rules and technical details (including tables and outlines within the transparency report), so these points were postponed to future negotiations. The rules on transparency of climate action and support (one of the last unresolved parts of the Paris rulebook) were finally agreed at the UNFCCC COP 26 in Glasgow.

The rulebook contains clear guidance on how member states should report on their greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation measures and which additional information on the NDCs should be provide. All of these measures should enable the countries to report on national climate activities, latest by 2024 – in line with the same worldwide standards. These rules will be mandatory from 2025. The new transparency system is also intended to enable the transparent monitoring of the agreed NDCs and self-imposed climate change mitigation goals, thus contributing to the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement and its implementation.

IKI approaches for implementing NDCs 

Industrialised countries and multilateral institutions support developing and emerging countries in reducing their greenhouse gases and adapting better to the impacts of climate change. This supports them to achieve the national climate protection goals that they have set by opening up financing channels, providing technical support and promoting the exchange of knowledge and experience.

Germany is playing a pioneering role here through its funding instrument, the International Climate Initiative (IKI). IKI projects meet the demands of the partner countries, ranging from policy advice and technical support in the calculation of emissions to monitoring throughout the entire production process and the concrete implementation of NDCs. This particularly includes the development of scenarios, country-specific needs analyses, cost estimates and the formulation of specific reduction and adaptation targets in various sectors. 

Since 2022, the IKI has also increasingly worked to align NDCs with Long Term Strategies (LTS).

Handbooks are produced, webinars or workshops organised, and inter-ministerial working groups are advised to identify and involve important stakeholders.

In addition, the IKI promotes international networking, dialogue and exchanges within and between departments as well as governments. Already in the run-up to the Paris Agreement, the IKI supported regional dialogues of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UNFCCC. These dialogues helped to achieve a collective understanding of NDCs and provided an exchange of experiences on the following topics:

  • Long-Term Strategies for Low Carbon Development (LTS) and Green Economy,
  • Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs); and
  • Measurement, Reporting, Verification (MRV)/Transparency.




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