Ambition, Participation and Effectiveness: Utilising the NDC Partnership as a Catalyst for NDC Implementation in Developing Countries

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Now that the Paris Agreement has established goals and a framework for the long-term global response to climate change, the time has come for its fast, ambitious and effective implementation. If temperature increase is to be kept below 1.5°C, the appropriate policy course must be firmly embedded within the next ten years. The challenges that this poses for politics, the economy and society are spelled out in a recent study by the Climate Action Tracker, entitled “The Ten Most Important ShortTerm Steps to Limit Global Warming to 1.5°C”, which identifies the following required actions:

  • Sustain the high global growth rate of renewable energies until 2025,
  • Reduce emissions from coal power by at least 30 percent by 2025,
  • Cease the construction of new coal-fired power plants immediately,
  • End the sale of gasoline and diesel cars no later than 2035,
  • Make all new buildings fossil-free and near zero energy by 2020,
  • Increase the building energy renovation rate to five percent by 2020.

In order to implement these measures, the industrialised countries must radically overhaul their prosperity model as swiftly as possible. The task facing the developing countries is no less challenging: they must end poverty and create prosperity without worsening global warming. The transformation that the Paris Agreement calls for so urgently will only secure broad-based public support if there is a narrowing of socioeconomic inequalities, which have widened dramatically within and between societies across the world as a consequence of globalisation and digitalisation.

The main policy planning tools for implementation of the Paris Agreement are the short-term Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for the period 2020-2025 and the mid-century long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies (also known as the LongTerm Strategies (LTS) or the 2050 Pathways Platform). The NDCs – a short-term instrument which is to be updated every five years – and the long-term strategies are equally important and must intermesh. Ambitious NDC implementation is essential in order to ensure that global emission levels peak in the near future, climate risks are reduced and development co-benefits are achieved at the same time.

The climate strategies to 2050, on the other hand, must present a convincing vision and credible long-term roadmap to align climate resilience and greenhouse gas emissions neutrality with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Initiatives such as the NDC Partnership can support the delivery of short- and long-term climate goals by strengthening transformative forces and helping to overcome challenges (see Figure).

Launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in late 2016, the NDC Partnership’s objective is to assist developing countries to deliver on their NDCs and related SDG commitments.

In conjunction with the 2050 Pathways Platform, now being established to support cooperation on the Long-Term Strategies, the NDC Partnership has an important role to play. If effective synergies are created between the two initiatives, they have the potential to embed climate goals in the much broader development agenda and mobilise social support and participation. So implementation of the Paris Agreement is not just about technical assistance – there is much more to it than that.

With regard to the NDC Partnership, the following five factors appear to be crucial:

Firstly, it is essential to add detail to the NDCs. At present, many NDCs are little more than political statements of intent, couched in vague terms, making it impossible to use them as a direct starting point for practical action. Some reworking is necessary. It is also important to establish an enabling environment – political, legal, technical, programmatic and financial. Many developing countries need assistance here.

Secondly, it is essential to build national expert capacities, knowledge and technological resources to enable national stakeholders to take far greater ownership of the development and implementation of the NDCs than it has been the case hitherto. This will do much to improve sustainability and participation, increasing effectiveness and the level of ambition. At present, many countries are dependent on support from international advisors and specialised organisations.

Thirdly, coherence must be established between the NDCs, the Long-Term Strategies and Agenda 2030, all of which must then be put at the heart of national development planning and implemented with a high level of ambition.

Fourthly, to that end, low-income countries require substantial financial support and investment. A coordinated approach by the development banks is important in this context. Climate-damaging and unsustainable investment and subsidies must be phased out at the same time.

Fifthly, it is essential to raise awareness of the NDCs, which are still unfamiliar to many people. The NDCs can only fulfil their purpose if climate goals are integrated into national development planning and economic and financial policy, if the private sector recognises and harnesses the opportunities afforded by a transition to a low-carbon economy, if the media report on the process, and if all those who urgently need improved resilience to climate risks are involved in implementing the national climate action plans.

The NDC Partnership is committed to promoting broad multi-stakeholder engagement. This is the right approach, because non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector are indispensable in embedding climate goals and the NDCs at the heart of society. Civil society is a knowledge bearer and trust broker. It can improve transparency and demand accountability. However, this cannot be taken for granted, so measures should be taken within the framework of the initiative to safeguard genuine participation by civil society, thus creating valuable opportunities for NDC implementation.

This brochure sets out practical proposals for the shaping of the NDC Partnership with a view to unlocking its transformative potential and enabling it to become a catalyst for ambition, effectiveness and participation in NDC implementation in developing countries.

  • Publisher: Bread for the World
  • Author(s): Thomas Hirsch
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