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What are Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)?

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By illuminem briefings

· 3 min read

This article is part of illuminem's Carbon Academy, the ultimate free and comprehensive guide on key carbon concepts

1. Introduction

Under the Paris Agreement, each participating country is asked to prepare, communicate and maintain successive Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that it intends to achieve. NDCs represent individual countries' pledges to combat greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. These contributions outline the specific actions and targets a country intends to achieve in mitigating climate change. The aim of this process is to encourage transparency, accountability, and collective progress towards the goals set forth in the agreement.

2. Purposes of NDCs 

The essence of NDCs revolves around three main objectives:

  • Mitigation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: NDCs outline measures to cut emissions across various sectors such as energy, transportation, agriculture, and industry
  • Adaptation to Climate Change: NDCs include strategies to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and shifts in agricultural patterns. These adaptation measures encompass infrastructure development, water management strategies, biodiversity conservation, and enhancing community resilience
  • Promotion of Sustainable Development: NDCs are designed to align climate action with broader development goals, fostering economic growth, poverty alleviation, and social equity 

3. Current State and Submissions of NDCs 

All 195 Parties to the Paris Agreement have submitted at least one initial Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), with 151 Parties updating or issuing new NDCs as of November 2, 2021. However, the quality and ambition of these contributions vary due to factors such as inadequate financial support and limited capacity. Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are submitted to the UNFCCC secretariat every five years and progressive increase in ambition is encouraged throughout the implementation of successive NDCs.
Updated information on individual countries’ NDCs can be found in the NDC registry. To give some examples, Colombia aspires to be carbon neutral by 2050, with a plan to get halfway to net zero by 2030. This will be facilitated through measures within key sectors such as energy, agriculture, and industry. Chile has committed to reaching its peak emissions no later than 2025 as outlined in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). To achieve this, Chile aims to reduce emissions across its economy by collaborating closely with the private sector and employing strategies such as carbon budgets. Additionally, it will prioritize the protection of its extensive coastline by implementing measures to safeguard the ocean and transitioning towards a circular economy with minimal waste. 

4. Conclusion

Climate change presents an unparalleled challenge, demanding a comprehensive overhaul of our economies and societies. Its reach extends to every facet of human activity – from energy production to industrial processes, agricultural practices, transportation systems, governance structures, and individual behaviors. Crafting a meticulous plan enables nations to navigate the multifaceted dimensions of this challenge, orchestrating concerted efforts to curtail emissions and bolster adaptive measures to safeguard lives and livelihoods. 

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