There are only 16 countries that have currently set domestic targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions that are ambitious enough to be considered in line with their pledged contributions to the Paris Agreement, according to new research published this week.
Currently, 157 of the 197 parties committed to the Paris Agreement have set out economy-wide emissions reduction targets as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the Agreement. However, only 58 have actually set out domestic laws or policies, and only 16 of those have laid out targets which are actually consistent with those set out in their NDCs.
These are the key points from a new study published by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy — both at the London School of Economics and Political Science — and the World Resources Institute. The study, entitled Aligning national and international climate targets, compares the quantified targets represented in countries NDCs to the Paris Agreement, and those that have been set in national laws and policies. The study is based on data drawn from the Grantham Research Institute’s Climate Change Laws of the World database and the World Resources Institute’s ClimateWatch platform.
The research shows that 140 countries have set in place national sector-specific targets — such as mitigation efforts for emissions from energy, transport, and land use/land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). However, despite this, the report concludes that “countries are being slow to reproduce their NDC commitments as targets in national laws and policies.” For example, adaptation targets remain under-addressed both in countries’ NDCs and their national laws and policies, while over 60% of economy-wide and sectoral targets in national laws and policies are currently set for 2020, whereas the target year for most NDCs is set for 2030.
The report concludes by saying, “Given that a gap already exists between the targets in the Paris Agreement and in countries’ NDCs, it is advisable that countries enhance the stringency and transparency of their current targets as they are expressed in their national laws and policies. This is an important step towards greater transparency over countries’ credibility to deliver on their targets.”
In the end, the report found that only 16 countries have translated their NDCs into domestic laws and policies ambitious enough to be considered in line with the Paris Agreement. The 16 countries include Algeria, Canada, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, FYR Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Samoa, Singapore, and Tonga.
It is important that countries who want their NDCs to the Paris Agreement taken seriously translate their commitments into quantifiable national policies and laws. The report’s three key recommendations for national governments, therefore, are relatively unsurprising:
- All countries that have not yet done so should introduce quantified targets into national climate laws and policies.
- Most governments need to extend their targets to 2030, taking a cue from the NDCs.
- Adding clarity and detail to targets would improve the ability to track progress, compare nationally legislated targets with international commitments, and hold countries accountable for their pledges.
“Explicitly setting a high-level economy-wide emission reduction target helps countries to ensure that sectoral targets and policies add up to the necessary action,” the authors of the report note. “While it is possible to meet the overall target in a country’s NDC without setting an economy-wide target – instead setting sectoral targets or implementing sectoral policies that aggregate to the overall target – this approach presents governance challenges as sectoral policies are often overseen by different institutions (eg different government ministries), and expressed in different metrics and ways.”