The NDC`s 2020 Update report discusses countries` willingness to increase their ambitions in the first round of NDC updates amid a global health crisis. Based on our survey of 98 policy makers and experts involved in the planning and implementation of NDC from 83 countries, we discuss progress in implementing NDCs since 2015, expectations for the NDC update cycle, and progress in developing long-term strategies for the development of greenhouse gas emissions (LTS). We analyze the potential impact of COVID-19 on climate planning and the fight against climate change in terms of the future of clean technologies, the national climate agenda and remedies. 2020 marks five years since the Paris Agreement and the NDC`s update cycle marks a turning point in increasing climate change ambitions. Several serious and consolidated strategies to combat climate change are emerging, but processes are delayed and climate change commitments in 2020 are unlikely to be in line with the urgency of climate action. The window of opportunity for a shift in the global economy towards net zero emissions, in line with the Paris Agreement target, is closing. It is not clear that the current NFPA update cycle will lead to a significant increase in ambitions, but we find that too many countries do not plan to do so at this time. In Paris, negotiators realized that 2025 was far from the case and thus turned checkpoints into a formal decision to implement the agreement in 2020. Raising climate ambitions in the first round of NDC updates in the midst of a global health crisis The text of the Paris Agreement orders countries to make and communicate “ambitious efforts” with the NDC, asking – with the word “must” – that each country publish a new NDC every five years, once the agreement is in force.
While there are several positive examples of countries that, through the consolidation of the NDC and LTS processes, have been able to credibly inform the ambitious level of their NDC update processes, many countries have faced considerable delays in the preparation of their LTS and missed this opportunity; The development process of LTS appears to have been largely underestimated. But most countries whose NDC will run until 2030 are simply asked to “communicate or update” their plans by 2020. In practice, almost all nations filed NDCs in 2015, so it might be enough for them to simply reaffirm those plans in 2020. A simple reassessment of the 2015 targets would be a big boost to the Glasgow summit. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, human-caused emissions – such as fossil vehicles and power plants – must be reduced by almost half from the most recent levels by 2030, and then reach net zero by the beginning of the second half of the century to avoid the most dangerous and costly consequences of climate change. The current cycle of NDC updates plays a key role in defining this course by defining the direction of travel for the next decade. Stronger NDCs can create the political environment to manage investments and attract climate finance. And they can ensure transparency and accountability through national and multilateral processes.
The optimism of our respondents may indicate that positive developments are coming, but it may also indicate that there may be a mismatch between expectations. There is still time to act, but the opportunity for an adequate increase in ambition does not allow us to wait for the next round of NDC updates in 2025, where the scale of the task may be unreasonable. We urge the contracting parties not to wait until the next round of NDC updates in 2025 to correct the lack of ambition. The global Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the quality of climate planning and NDC processes in 2020, but countries are likely to be in a clearer and more confident position when they emerge from the crisis in the coming years.