What Effect Will National Climate Plans (INDCs) Have on Global Emissions? 5 Things to Know

In the run-up to COP 21 in Paris, more than 150 countries have now submitted their post-2020 national climate plans, known as “intended nationally determined contributions,” or INDCs. This is an unprecedented effort, and indicates countries’ increased seriousness in how they’re addressing climate change. But what has the INDC process triggered, and how much will these plans reduce global emissions? And how do they differ from past action and planning both nationally and internationally?

The new synthesis report from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reveals answers to these questions and more. It finds that all countries have upped their ambition from their pre-2020 climate actions. It also finds that these climate plans are more complete and transparent than ever before. When looking at the combined effect of all of these INDCs, it finds that there is an aggregate reduction of approximately 4 GtCO2e in 2030.

Thus, there is progress, but this progress is not yet adequate to keep global average temperature rise below 2 degrees C (3.6 F). In the final weeks before Paris, this gap places great focus on the new international climate agreement itself, and what signals and provisions it can include to keep the 2 degrees C goal within sight. The Paris agreement will need to strengthen the pace and scale of the global transformation to a zero-carbon economy.

In light of the findings in the synthesis report, here are five major things to know.


1) INDCs represent greater climate action and go beyond business-as-usual emissions trends.

This round of INDCs is far more ambitious than the climate plans countries submitted in 2010, with some major economies not only slowing emissions growth, but committing to a peak and decline of emissions. Importantly, they signal a new phase of climate policy, in which climate action is strongly rooted in domestic policies and national development and economic agendas, and aligned with country priorities.

The synthesis report finds that if countries achieve their INDCs, global emissions will be approximately 4 percent lower in 2025 and 7 percent lower in 2030 than they would have been with existing 2020 pledges, but without the INDCs. Without the INDCs, the report estimates that global emissions would be 57.7 GtCO2e in 2025 and 60.8 GtCO2e in 2030; with the INDCs, these figures fall to 55.2 Gt CO2e in 2025 and 56.7 GtCO2e in 2030. Other studies, like those by the Climate Action Tracker, Climate Interactive, the IEA, and MIT, reach similar conclusions. Compared to the synthesis report, some of them even find that the INDCs will result in more significant emissions reductions.

2) But countries still need to do more.

To limit warming to below 2 degrees C and prevent some of the worst climate impacts, however, countries will need to go further. The synthesis report estimates that with the INDCs, emissions would be 19 percent higher in 2025 than levels that would be consistent with the least-cost pathway to a 2 degree C world (8.7 Gt CO2e), and 35 percent higher (15.1 Gt CO2e) in 2030. Other studies present similar findings, indicating a substantial “gap” between where emissions are going and emissions pathways consistent with a least costly chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C and avoiding the worst climate impacts.

If countries do not increase action prior to 2030, very steep, unprecedented rates of emissions reductions would be required later in order to achieve the 2 degrees C goal, significantly increasing costs and risks.

3) The Paris agreement can increase ambition.

The Paris agreement can send the right policy signals to countries to further reduce emissions beyond the INDCs. Governments should agree on a process for countries to scale up their emissions-reduction commitments every five years, starting in 2020. Indeed, we know that many countries already have options available to go beyond their current commitments. These five-year cycles could be coupled with a global long-term goal in the agreement framed as a certain percentage of emissions reductions that must be achieved by mid-century, the timing of a phase-out of emissions, decarbonization of the economy, and/or the timing for peaking emissions.

The additional effort resulting from strong signals in the agreement could avoid an additional 5 GtCO2e in 2030, ensuring a smoother transition to a zero-carbon economy.


For more Information, please consult:  What Effect Will National Climate Plans (INDCs) Have on Global Emissions? 5 Things to Know


Image credit: WRI

Go back


UN-International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, 16 September

"For over three decades, the Montreal Protocol has done much more than shrink the ozone hole; it has shown us how environmental governance can respond to science, and how countries can come together to address a shared vulnerability. I call for that same spirit of common cause and, especially, greater leadership as we strive to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and mobilize the ambitious climate action we so urgently need at this time." UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Read more …

6th edition of the Africa Agri Forum: Confirm your registration!

The 6th edition of the Africa Agri Forum will be taking place for the second year in a row in Libreville, from 24 to 25 October to cement Gabon’s central place as an emerging hub of agriculture in the region.

Read more …

sep2d-International symposium “Plant biodiversity and sustainable development”

The international symposium is open to the entire scientific community (especially promoters of SED2D-backed projects) and actors in the management and valuing of plant biodiversity, subject to prior mandatory registration (free) and depending on the symposium’s seating capacity . Those who wish  to make a presentation must sign up for one of the thematic sessions listed below. Presentations can be either take the form of an oral presentation or a poster (A0 format) which can be presented in plenary along with a 2 min pitch

Read more …

Ministry of Environment, Water and Fisheries, Chad: Wildlife rangers of the Forest and Wildlife Guard come under attack - Seven (07) elephant carcasses found

Dozens of heavily armed poachers on horseback attacked wildlife rangers of the Forest and Fauna Guard (GFF) stationed in the Binder-Lere Wildlife reserve. Seven (07) elephant carcasses were found throughout the reserve by GFF wildlife rangers tracking the poachers. The poachers came from Cameroon.


Read more …

Law enforcement officials brush up on African wildlife crime investigating skills

Brazzaville-Republic of Congo, 28 July- 1st August 2019. Two multi-institutional capacity building workshops on investigations into wildlife crimes were held for law enforcement officers at the Mikhael’s Hotel.

Read more …

OCFSA and Lusaka Agreement close ranks to fight wildlife crime in Central Africa

Signing of MoU (Collaboration Agreement) OCFSA- Luska Agreement on the sidelines of two multi-institutional capacity building workshops for law enforcement officials on wildlife crime investigation held from 28 July to  01 August 2019 in Brazzaville (Congo).

Read more …

JIPA 2019: REPALEAC promotes linguistic and cultural diversity among DRC’s indigenous pygmy populations

On the sidelines of the celebration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (JIPA 2019), the Indigenous Peoples’ Network for Forest Ecosystem Management (REPALEF) held a press briefing on 9 August 2019 in the Arche Room in Kinshasa, Gombe The main item on the agenda was the launch of the month’s activities focusing on indigenous peoples’ across the DRC.

Read more …

COMIFAC Guidelines on monitoring forest-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): document drafting underway

Douala, Cameroon, 24-25 July 2019: The sub-region’s experts met to review the content and form of the COMIFAC Guide on monitoring forest-related Sustainable Development Goals.

Read more …

CBFP News Archive


GEF Newsletter | June 2019
The Cafi Dialogues
Forest Watch April 2019
Forest Watch March 2019