Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Importance of INDCs on the Road to COP 21

The Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or "INDC," is a post 2020 national plan for action on climate change. Each country has already submitted or will soon submit its INDC in advance of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris scheduled for December 2015.

The informal deadline for INDC submission was March 31 although many nations extend this deadline. The European Union, the United States, Russia and Mexico have already submitted their INDCs while others are expected to communicate their INDCs prior to the June 2015 UNFCCC session in Bonn, Germany.

An INDC can involve such things as domestic emissions reduction as well as related efforts to either combat climate change or adapt to it anywhere in the world. An INDC target should be both ambitious and transparent. It should clearly indicate the amount of reduction and the specific pathways by which this will be achieved.

Countries determine INDCs and concordant national policies based on their priorities, circumstances and capabilities. INDC's will differ depending on the amount of carbon produced. This will also include historic emissions. The more carbon produced the greater the emissions reduction effort. Consistent with this thinking developing nations are not expected to cut as deeply as developed nations. One formula proposes that developing use intensity emissions reduction targets that is tied to their GDP growth.

All INDCs submitted by October 1st will be included in a synthesis report by the UNFCCC Secretariat that will be released by November 1st. Together these INDCs will generate an aggregate number. Countries as a whole will then include these INDCs as part of the agreement to be signed at COP 21 in Paris. Once inscribed in the agreement, the INDC becomes a final, nationally determined contribution (NDC).

INDCs are crucial because they will determine the success or failure of COP 21. If we succeed we will secure an ambitious 2015 agreement that will put the world on a path toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. If we fail we risk running out of time to get emissions under control before we surpass irreversible tipping points.

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