OPINION: INDCs – what existing building blocks can developing countries use?
Helen Picot, Kiran Sura and Christopher Webb of CDKN argue that many developing countries have solid foundations on which to develop their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for presentation to the UNFCCC.
In the first quarter of 2015, the international community will start bringing forward new offers on action to combat catastrophic climate change. These intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) are due by the end of March (for those ready to do so) and are a first step in collating pledges ahead of the Paris climate deal. And whilst time is short, our analysis suggests that many emerging and developing governments will not need to approach this from a standing start.
At the 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) in Warsaw, November 2013, all Parties were invited to initiate or intensify their INDC preparations. There will be much debate at COP20 in Lima this December on the scope and an upfront information required for INDCs; however, there is recognition that all countries should include at least a mitigation component in their contributions (see Draft by the Co-Chairs of the ADP, July 2014). In response to this, CDKN embarked on a desk-based exercise to examine the how the current mitigation landscape in its partner countries could help inform these preparations (view the full report here).
CDKN’s 12 priority partner countries are a mix of low- and middle-income countries, ranging from Indonesia in the east to Colombia and Peru in the west, and including several in South Asia and Africa (click on ‘Regions’ on the website menu bar to see a list). They start from very different bases in terms of emissions, climate change priorities, domestic financing, levels of market maturity, urbanisation and industrialisation. It is certain that this diversity in national circumstances and priorities will lead to the development of different types of INDCs. We already see this spread of approaches in the range of measures that CDKN partner counties are taking in preparing their contributions.
Our priority partner countries also fall across several UNFCCC negotiating groups including the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group, the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Like Minded Countries Group (LMC) and the Association of Independent Latin American Countries (AILAC). Each group has a position on whether INDCs should address other important elements within the negotiations such as adaptation, means of implementation and capacity building, as well as mitigation.
The issues of ambition and equity will be of crucial importance in this discourse. INDCs need to deliver the scale of ambition that will likely keep warming within the 2 degrees Celsius limit, and represent an equitable national contribution to a global climate agreement. Given the UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities, assessments of equity may consider past, current and future emissions, and evolving capabilities and responsibilities.
So where might countries start in thinking about their INDCs?
Looking at the landscape of existing mitigation efforts across CDKN’s portfolio of priority partner countries shows us what foundations are in place that INDCs might build upon.
We noted a significant variation in the type and scale of action across these countries. Several of our partner countries have taken mitigation measures such as putting in place climate legislation, registering nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) or voluntarily identifying quantitative emissions reduction targets. Actions like these could help form the basis for an ambitious INDC.
The group of countries also includes some of the world’s poorest and most climate vulnerable countries. For them, adapting to the impacts of climate change and building resilience is the national priority. These countries have chosen to address emissions indirectly through their development plans such as Vision2020 in Rwanda and Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan. There is also a growing discourse on the mitigation co-benefits of adaptation, and how this can inform a country’s INDC. For example El Salvador’s Mitigation-Based Adaptation (MBA) strategy.
Many developing countries are intending to go first and go big in terms of the national contributions. There are many factors driving this ambition such as energy security, economic opportunity and strong government leadership. But whatever the reason the hope is that these first movers will spur other developing and developed countries alike into preparing equally ambitious contributions.
Read the full analysis here: A Mitigation Analysis of CDKN Priority Countries