Is the Paris Agreement entering into ‘Actual Force’?


The news from Indian Prime Minister came today evening as a surprise- that India will ratify the Paris Agreement on October 2 and submit its NDC. This submission of India will push the Paris Agreement nearer to ‘’force into implementation’’. India accounts for 4.5 percent of the global emission.  However, the big question is: Will the Paris Agreement and its supporting NDCs are having sufficient clarity on its ambition and resources necessity (financing, technical and institutional) to implement the NDCs? The answer of this question is again very confusing (yes and no).

In an analysis based on the synthesis report of UNFCCC and other analysis, it is found that most of the INDCs are national in scope; they address all major national GHG emissions or at least the most significant sources such as Co2, and CH4. Approximately, 129 Parties included in their INDCs sectoral or sub-sectoral quantified targets. These Parties included targets for the energy and land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sectors together with their economy-wide targets. 78 Parties identified targets for renewable energy as part of the information to facilitate the clarity, transparency and understanding of their INDCs.

A few Parties referred to the need to respect human rights and gender equality. Over half of the communicated INDCs indicate that Parties plan to use or are considering the use of market-based instruments from international, regional or domestic schemes, including the clean development mechanism (CDM). Support needs for the implementation of INDCs were highlighted by several Parties. Those Parties identified in their INDCs needs for targeted investment and finance, capacity-building and technology, with some providing quantitative estimates of the support required for the implementation of their INDCs and for achieving the upper level of their mitigation contributions.  158 Parties noted the importance of enhanced international support in the context of the new global agreement, including its scaling-up, and the strengthening of the role of and linkages between the existing operating entities of the Financial Mechanism, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the Technology Mechanism under the Convention.

Information contained in the INDCs shows a clear and increasing trend towards introducing national policies and related instruments for low-emission and climate-resilient development. Information provided by Parties highlights the trend towards an increasing prominence of climate change on national political agendas, driven in many cases by inter-ministerial coordination arrangements as well as by an increasing trend towards the mainstreaming of climate change in national and sectoral development priorities. The INDCs show an increasing interest of Parties in enhanced cooperation to achieve climate change goals collectively through a multilateral response and to raise ambition in the future. In particular, Parties stressed the need for strengthening finance, technology transfer and capacity-building support for climate action in general as a means of creating an enabling environment and scaling up action.

Inclusion of adaptation in INDC: One hundred Parties included an adaptation component in their INDCs. The secretariat received adaptation components from 46 African States, 26 Asia-Pacific States, 19 Latin American and Caribbean States, 7 Eastern European States and 2 Western European and other States.

Parties highlighted their common determination to strengthen national adaptation efforts in the context of the 2015 agreement. Loss and damage associated with past and projected impacts of climate variability and change were reported by several Parties, some of which have quantified projected loss and damage. Regarding the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of adaptation action, Parties highlighted that they have established or will establish quantitative and qualitative indicators for adaptation and vulnerability to measure progress.

The above mentioned facts are very much encouraging. However, there are critical concerns about majority of INDCs and even in case of submitted NDCs, mainly related to their BAU and the reference level. Defining the baseline level of emissions against which country’s reductions will be achieved (i.e., emissions associated with the BAU scenario) is imperative for transparency and accountability. Absent this information, tracking progress towards INDC goals is impossible for countries. This applicable for majority of the INDCs. Similarly, INDCs are not yet clear on financial allocation and resource mobilization strategies. INDCs are not yet owned by sectoral ministries in countries, rather, it has been considered as an initiative only of Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. In some case, INDCs are merely developed as ‘’wish list’’. The actual prioritization has not yet been conceived by national government. Institutional arrangement for implementing NDCs is yet to be done. Securing financing for implementation of NDC is a key challenge. Lack of quantitative indicators/tools to measure the adequacy and effectiveness of planning and implementation. Hence, still there are a ‘wishy-washy’ picture of global commitments on NDCs.  Perhaps, this can be overcome with strategic supports of international development agencies as well as strong commitments of national government. In addition, public participation is also key to make a transformational change in the INDC context.

Keshav C Das

Berlin, September 26, 2016