UNFCCC: INDCs to slow down emissions’ growth but more action needed

The UNFCCC secretariat released today the official report assessing the aggregate impact of the Intended National Contributions (INDCs) communicated by Parties ahead of the deadline of October 1st.

The 66-page Synthesis report provides both qualitative and quantitative evaluations of the action plans submitted by a total of 119 countries representing 147 Parties (including the European Union’s 28 Member States).

According to the report, the submitted INDCs represent 75% of UNFCCC Parties and cover 80% of the global emissions in 2010. All of them provide information about mitigation actions whereas 100 out of 119 contributions also include adaptation measures.

Comparing the proposed actions, which includes different types of target, base years and metrics, the UNFCCC states that emission growth resulting from the INDCs is expected to slow down by a third in the 2010–2030 period compared to the period 1990–2010. Of course, the broad and unprecedented countries’ involvement into such a global effort, implies that the INDCs will lead to a lower emission trajectory compared to emission levels without INDCs by 2.8 (0.2–5.5) Gt CO2 eq in 2025 and 3.6 (0.0–7.5) Gt CO2 eq in 2030.


However, the aggregate emissions are expected to continue to increase over the next 15 years. The table below details global percentage emission changes compared with 1990, 2000 and 2010 reference years.

Reference year Emission changes by 2025 (%) Emission changes by 2030 (%)
1990 + 34 to 46 + 37 to 52
2000 + 29 to 40 + 32 to 45
2010 + 8 to 18 + 11 to 22

As expected, the submitted efforts will not be sufficient to drive the world toward the 2°C trajectory. On this regard, the synthesis report affirms that aggregate projected annual emissions resulting from the INDCs “do not fall within least-cost 2 °C scenarios by 2025 and 2030” and it adds that “temperature levels by the end of the century strongly depend on assumptions on socioeconomic drivers, technology development and action undertaken by Parties beyond the time frames stated in their INDCs (e.g. beyond 2025 and 2030). Making such assumptions is beyond the scope of this report”.

In particular,  INDCs-related emissions remain higher by 9 (5 to 13) Gt CO2eq in 2025 and 15 (11 to 22) Gt CO2eq in 2030. Much greater mitigation effort will be therefore required in the period after 2025 and 2030 to limit temperature increase below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • INDCs shows a clear and increasing trend towards introducing national policies and related instruments for low-emission and climate-resilient development;
  • global emission levels resulting from the INDCs in 2025 will be on average at 55 (52 to 57) GtCO2eq and 57 (53 to 59) Gt CO2eq in 2030 (including emissions from land-use change);
  • global cumulative CO2 emissions are expected to equal 54% by 2025 and 75% by 2030 of the total global cumulative emissions since 2011 that are consistent with a global average temperature rise of less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • global per capita emissions will fall by 9 and 5% by 2030 compared with the levels in 1990 and 2010, respectively.

The report further analyses the adaptation components included in their INDCs by one hundred Parties, including 38 Least Developing Country Parties. These covered both strengthening and scaling up existing efforts as well as  planning and implementation of new strategies, programmes and plans in the future. In particular, most Parties have committed to formulate and implement national adaptation plans (NAPs) – an instrument established under the Convention – by 2020.

Some Parties stressed that adaptation is their main priority for addressing climate change, and great attention was given to adaptation measures’ contribution to all areas of social and economic activity. The most vulnerable sectors identified are water, agriculture, biodiversity and health, while most vulnerable communities identified are rural populations, in particular smallholders, women, youth and the elderly.

INDCs are a key element of the future climate deal. However, recognition, accountability and adequate support of the INDCs will be a central part of the climate change agreement to be achieved in Paris, together with decisions on the mobilization of climate finance and other forms of multilateral cooperation. Most importantly, the agreement will need to ensure the progression of the pledged efforts by involving multiple cycles and review progresses, actions included in the recently released draft of theagreement.

“Governments from all corners of the Earth have signalled through their INDCs that they are determined to play their part according to their national circumstances and capabilities”, said in the official press release the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.

The Secretary added that: “[These plans] provide a foundation upon which even higher ambition can be built. I am confident that these INDCs are not the final word in what countries are ready to do and achieve over time–the journey to a climate safe-future is underway and the Paris agreement to be inked in Paris can confirm, and catalyze that transition”.

(Image: Paris Skyline. Photo credit: Taylor Miles/Flickr)