(I)NDCs and NDCs – Wait the hell does it mean?

Previous to the Paris Agreement (PA) in 2015, countries outlined to each other their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). These plans were simply what countries sought to achieve in order to limit the effects of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the atmosphere and halt climate disruption. However, following the PA, countries were encouraged (voluntarily) to submit their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as they moved forward into the implementation phase of the agreement.


INDCs are, therefore, the basis of post-2020 global emissions reduction commitments included in the climate agreement. Keep in mind that each country determines their own NDC and reports them to the UNFCCC secretariat. This bottom-up approach is currently under construction (a very long-term process despite the urgency of the issue) in order to build the trust of countries and scale up future ambitions. This comes as the previous agreement (the Kyoto Protocol) was more centred around a top-down approach that forced countries to reduce their emissions or face punishment. This is very similar to telling a small child to do something he doesn’t want to (aka it doesn’t work), see here for the perfect example of Canada.

Now we are getting into the nitty gritty of the NDCs:

  • Costs (what will this all cost? Bean counters (aka economists) love this stuff!
  • Unconditional targets: Countries/parties have pledged to do irrespective of the challenges) and
  • Conditional targets: Countries/parties will only chase reductions with the assistance of financial needs, capacity building, technological development and transfer and international market mechanisms

So with a little help from Climate Tracker, here’s some statistics we get:

  • NDCs demand ~5 trillion until 2030 (~350 billion/yr) HOWEVER we currently subsidise fossil fuels to the tune of ~5.5 trillion yearly
  • 79% of all submitted NDCs include conditional components
  • 57% of conditional INDCs make a direct reference to quantified financial needs
  • 69% referred to capacity building as a condition
  • 72% mention tech development and transfer as requirement
  • 80 developing countries refer to international market mechanisms (a very debatable topic and solution) in their INDC


Overall, taking away from this, it is clear that this agreement is a place to build trust. However, the reality and urgency of the issue must be highlighted with swift pre-2020 action being implemented (aka peaking global emissions would be a good start). Thus, with the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue (FD) – watch this space – it would be cool if countries reassessed their current NDCs leading up to 2018 as currently most NDCs look like a first year political student’s assignment they put together the night before.

We call on Sweden and the European Union to stand up and show true leadership on this issue, scale up your NDC before the 2018 FD. Tack sa mycket!

//Nick (resident Swede/Aussie)


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