The countdown to Paris 2015 and the need for nations to prepare

The countdown to Paris 2015 and the need for nations to prepare
17 February 2015

The countdown to Paris 2015 and the need for nations to prepare

Heather Haydock - Managing Consultant for Energy & Climate Change

The eyes of the world are on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the countdown progresses to the crucial negotiation meeting to be held in Paris in December 2015.

The objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change, from all the nations of the world. How can this be achieved?

The international community has agreed that an effective response to climate change must include major emitters from both developed and developing countries. In advance of the talks in Paris, countries have agreed to submit INDCs, or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, but what are they?

In essence, an INDC is a statement from a country about the climate change mitigation activities it intends to undertake and the expected GHG emissions reductions that will result. In other words, it is their ‘contribution’ to global efforts to avoid dangerous climate change. Depending on the development status of countries, a mitigation contribution could take the form of an absolute GHG emissions reduction against a baseline year, a reduction in the economy’s GHG emissions intensity, a target for a specific sector or just a list of individual activities or projects. Some countries have successfully lobbied for INDCs to have an adaptation component, covering activities aimed at building resilience to future climate change. Countries will need to set out their emissions reduction aims, explain why those represent a deviation from ‘business as usual’ and justify why that represents a fair contribution to the global effort. Countries “in a position to do so” have been invited to submit their INDCs by March 2015 and other countries will be working hard to ensure their INDCs are submitted by September at the latest. However, many countries do not yet have the technical capability or capacity to create INDCs. And they need help – in particular to calculate their current and future emissions and to identify the most cost-effective options to reduce them.

The Intergovernmental Panel onClimate Change (IPCC) has explained the need for a global emissions pathway consistent with its maximum 2°C global warming target, and there is a widespread consensus that if we delay action much longer, the situation may become unrecoverable.

The key question is this: will INDCs deliver, or help deliver, the global emissions reductions needed to put us on a pathway to avoid dangerous climate change? The answer to the question is ‘in part’. We will need countries and governments to commit firmly to mitigation. A key challenge will be to provide targeted help and support so countries feel they can deliver the reductions set out in their INDCs – to make it something that they feel is within their grasp.

Ricardo is already supporting a number of countries on this vital work and is becoming the consultant of choice in helping to make this challenge ‘do-able’. This is because our staff have unique experience in this area and, importantly, because our approach is to help countries take ownership of these decisions. We do this by building sustainable local capacity, institutionalising the necessary processes to reliably and repeatedly fulfil the climate goals they have committed to, and giving them the confidence to move forward in contributing to the global effort to avoid dangerous climate change.

This view point featured in RQ Q1 2015 - click here to download the full publication.