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A Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is a climate action plan.

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About the NDCs

What is an NDC?

In straightforward terms, an NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) is a climate action plan designed to reduce emissions and address the effects of climate change. Each Party participating in the Paris Agreement is obligated to create an NDC and revise it every five years.

What is in an NDC?

NDCs serve as crucial mechanisms for countries to establish targets for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change and adapting to climate impacts. These action plans outline strategies to achieve these targets and incorporate systems to monitor and verify progress to stay on course. Climate finance plays a pivotal role in implementing NDCs, so ideally, these plans also include a detailed financing strategy. Several countries serve as examples of how NDCs are formulated.

The Paris Agreement mandates that countries update their NDCs every five years. Recognizing the considerable disparity between the necessary emissions reductions to limit global warming to 1.5°C and the current planned reductions, the Glasgow Climate Pact called upon all countries to revisit and strengthen their NDC targets in 2022. These regular updates are expected to raise ambition by intensifying emissions cuts and expanding adaptation measures. Over time, the iterative process of updating NDCs is crucial in securing a livable future for all inhabitants of the planet.

The most effective NDCs are ambitious and far-reaching, grounded in robust analysis and data. They act as catalysts for countries to initiate transformative shifts towards greener and more sustainable development. These action plans facilitate necessary transformations across various sectors of the economy and provide an opportunity to reimagine how societies produce and consume resources. Additionally, they can foster greater social inclusion, incorporating specific benefits for women, youth, and indigenous communities. Some countries have even linked NDCs with their national development plans, including those aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

What is the origin of an NDC?

As an obligation of the government under the Paris Agreement, the development of an NDC is typically led by one or more national ministries. However, for NDCs to be effective, they must be comprehensively understood and embraced by various stakeholders, including businesses, civil society, academia, and ordinary citizens. Each of these groups has a role to play in achieving the goals set by the NDCs, which is why many governments involve different constituencies in defining NDC priorities. Collaborative participation ensures a broader and more impactful approach towards addressing climate change challenges.

How do NDCs function?

Climate change stands apart from many other issues as it demands a complete transformation of our economies and societies. Virtually no aspect of our world will remain untouched – from energy and industry to agriculture, transport, institutions, and individual actions, all must undergo changes to reduce emissions and adapt to the already unfolding climate consequences.

Though a daunting task, it is not an insurmountable one. Having a well-structured plan allows countries to comprehend and coordinate the numerous elements required to curtail emissions and adapt swiftly to safeguard lives and livelihoods. Every incremental rise in temperature carries significance. With immediate and ambitious actions, the world can avoid crossing the critical 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, beyond which climate impacts would worsen significantly.

NDCs acknowledge that countries must strike a balance between emissions reduction and addressing other pressing needs, such as ending poverty. Moreover, the major emitters must enact the most dramatic and rapid emissions cuts.

While every action is vital, every country must contribute to driving change. Some of the most ambitious plans have originated from countries like small island developing states, fully recognizing the urgency of climate action due to their experiences with climate-induced sea-level rise, which threatens to submerge their national territories.

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