188 countries have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions

© REUTERS/Mike Segar
© REUTERS/Mike Segar

23 Oct 188 countries have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions

The whole world is at the Paris meeting. One of the most important steps has been taken before the Climate conference which will take place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December.  At the last climate conference (COP20) in Lima in late 2014, it was decided that each of the 195 States would have to set out their roadmap to limit the effects of global warming to less that 2°C by 2100.

A deadline of 1 October 2015 was set by the UN (the Framework Convention on Climate Change) so that there would be time to analyze these contributions.

What can we learn from these national contributions?

  • Friday 5 February: 188 countries set out their roadmap.
  • 97,1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions to 2011 are covered by these contributions.
  • The ten largest CO2 emitters have handed in their contribution. In the order of the size of the emission, they are China, the United States, Europe (a single contribution for the 28 Member States), India, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

A large-scale mobilization of Heads of State based around the issue of climate

Leaders have been involved up to the highest political level. In Côte d’Ivoire, the Prime Minister began preparatory work and the completed project was sent to the President of the Republic for approval; the Japanese Prime Minister unveiled the Japanese contribution in June at the G7 Summit, while the Kenyan contribution was announced by President Kenyatta during Barack Obama’s State visit at the end of July. The main Ministries, Parliaments and local authorities have been involved, despite international climate negotiations traditionally being jointly managed by the Ministries of the Environment and Foreign Affairs.

Renewable energies, energy efficiency and the sustainable management of forests taking pride of place

The most advanced economies have already included renewables in their energy mix and have planned to increase their use in order to meet their mitigation goals: Japan aims to derive 22-24% of its electricity production from renewable sources by 2030 and the European Union plans for them to reach 27% of its final energy consumption.
But the least developed economies are also playing their part: 40% of non-G20 countries which have submitted their contribution have set specific targets in this area, such as Jordan (11% of the energy mix in 2025), Côte d’Ivoire (16% of the energy mix by 2030, 32% with international support) and Algeria (27% of national electricity production by 2030).

Potential areas for saving energy have been identified and countries are willing to adapt the most effective practices across all levels of development. Sectoral energy efficiency measures (buildings, transport, industry, etc.) have been planned by many countries.
Many forested countries, including those which are economically least developed, have planned to stem – or even to reverse – deforestation trends. Forests are natural “carbon sinks” and are also beneficial for adaptation and the preservation of biodiversity. Mexico has to this end set an objective of 0% deforestation by 2030, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo plans to plant about 3 million hectares of forest by no later than 2025. China’s reforestation programme, which is already underway, will help to increase the national forest stock by 4.5 billion cubic metres by 2030 compared to 2005, thus doubling the accomplishment of the past ten years.

Mexico, Colombia, Gabon – examples of countries preparing to tackle climate change

5 countries plan to set up a national adaptation plan in the coming years Certain contributions contain quantified objectives: Mexico plans to halve the number of communities classed as “vulnerable” by 2030; by the same year, Colombia wants to provide 1 million agricultural producers with access to agro-climatic information.
Concrete projects to develop solutions: for countries which already have a national adaptation plan, the priority is to implement it. Thus, Gabon wants to raise the height of Mandji Island Free Trade Zone in order to remain out of reach of the rising oceans; Djibouti is developing a renewable energy-powered water desalination plant; Kenya wants to set up a regulatory framework to increase the resilience of private investments.

Mitigation at the heart of contributions: emissions control becoming a universal issue 

The various economic sectors are taken into account: of the 60 or so countries which had announced a contribution by mid-September, almost 90% have set mitigation objectives (i.e. the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) at the economic level. Thus all sectors – energy, industrial processes, agriculture, waste as well as forests and land use – are covered by the contribution. All developed and G20 countries have chosen this type of commitment, as have many developing countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Colombia, etc.).
Developed countries have shouldered their responsibilities and have thus maintained “leadership” as regards mitigation – in particular the European Union with at least 40% reduction by 2030 compared to 1990, and the United States with 26-28% reduction by 2025 compared to 2005. Some developing countries have followed suit (Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago), including some of the poorest (Benin, Marshall Islands), which is a major first for most of them.

Anticipating disasters is a priority via early warning systems: about 10 countries – most of which are developing countries – have stated that they want to create systems of this kind, or to strengthen existing ones. The aim of early warning systems is to detect extreme climate events and to alert populations so that they can take shelter. These systems, whose costs are relatively low, help to reduce human and material losses during such disasters. The Climate Risk Early Warning System (CREWS) initiative, led by France, aims to speed up the deployment of early warning systems.

These contributions must be improved over time

Although this set of contributions is very positive (read UNFCCC press report), it will not be sufficient to put us on a path towards the 2°C limit as of the Paris Conference.
It is for this reason that the Paris Agreement must contain provisions to regularly increase our shared ambition over time so that each period of contributions can be more ambitious than the last and so that we can meet our long-term objectives. At the Heads of State lunch in New York on Sunday 27 September, this issue of improving contributions was raised.
A synthesis of the contributions prepared by the UNFCCC has been published 31rd of October (for more informations).

National contributions or INDCs: further information.

The content of these contributions and the rules governing their submission to the UNFCCC secretariat are based on the following principles:

Scope: the national contributions will, depending on the choice made by each country, be composed of mitigation goals (emissions reduction) and/or adaptation goals.

Ambition: the contributions submitted will have to go further than the Parties’ current commitments up to 2020 (whether they are national commitments or those determined under the second Kyoto Protocol commitment period, or NAMAs signed up to under the Copenhagen and Cancún Agreements). The aim is to spark a virtuous mobilization and “race to the top”, preventing the Parties from going backwards compared to their current commitments. Content: guidelines specify the content of the mitigation aspect of INDCs, while the adaptation aspect is voluntary. It is recommended to include the base year, the commitment period and/or the implementation schedule, methodological approaches used for estimating and accounting for greenhouse gas emissions, and how the INDC is fair and ambitious and helps to achieve the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC.

Differentiation: no specific treatment is planned for developing countries as opposed to developed ones, but the contribution will be considered in the light of the specific national circumstances of each country. This approach mitigates the dichotomy between Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 parties established by the UNFCCC in 1992. It is, however, acknowledged that the least developed countries and Small Island States shall enjoy a certain amount of leeway in drafting their INDCs, taking into account their limited capabilities. Transparency: the UNFCCC secretariat is responsible for publishing contributions on its website as they are submitted and for drawing up by 1 November 2015 a synthesis report on their aggregate effect, based on the INDCs communicated by 1 October 2015.

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