The objective of this paper is to enhance the understanding of the concept of INDCs.
It will discuss the technical and policy-related aspects of preparing, consulting, and communicating these contributions.
This paper focuses on the question of what a contribution could include, and how this content can be determined. It also provides an overview of the main questions, some of which are further detailed in the chapters below.
- Meaning of INDCs and rationale for countries to prepare them: As agreed by Parties at COP 19, INDCs put forward by countries will form a key input to the preparation processes of negotiations leading towards the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The term “contribution” was introduced as a compromise of the terms “commitment”, used until then for developed countries, and “nationally appropriate mitigation actions”, used until then for developing countries. Some Parties understand “contributions” to cover contributions on mitigation, while others interpret “contributions” as also including adaptation, finance, capacity building and technology transfer or support. The INDCs in aggregate will provide an important indication of the proposed effort of the international community to address climate change, and whether the global ambition is in line with required greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions compatible with the 2°C goal (see Section 2).
- Technical requirements for the preparation of an INDC: Countries may provide information to varying degrees based on their national circumstances. The content of an INDC relies on in-country processes. This may include the development of GHG inventories, an understanding of mitigation potentials, GHG projections (e.g. baseline and policy scenarios), as well as an assessments of specific support needs. It is reasonable to expect that Parties put forward contributions that are commensurate with their respective level of technical preparation and follow the logic of the chosen type of contribution (see Section 3 for a discussion of types of contributions).
- Options for the preparation and communication of an INDC: The packaging and presentation of their INDCs can partially be informed by historical experience of similar processes under the UNFCCC, as discussed for various types of contributions in Section 3. Section 4 covers some elements that could be included in an INDC. The elements offered in Section 4 are meant to provide options for a possible way forward without being prescriptive. Three illustrative examples for this are provided in Table 2 for countries at different stages of development, as well as different degrees of completion of the necessary research and planning processes.
- Requirements regarding INDC information content: Countries may choose to describe their INDCs in different levels of detail, providing a range of technical details to increase the clarity, transparency and understanding. These details and information are often termed “up-front information” or “ex-ante clarity”. Parties agreed to decide on the content requirement issue in Lima, December 2014.
- Expectations for the international process for INDCs: Under the UNFCCC, the submission of INDCs by Parties will be the starting point of a new iterative process, which is still undefined, since no specification was given by the Warsaw Decision. It will lead to a negotiated outcome at the Meeting of Parties in Paris at the end of 2015. In this iterative process INDCs will need to be considered at least with regards to feasibility of their contributions (technical and political, based on country circumstances), individual level of ambition, aggregated level of ambition in line with the 2°C target and existing commitments for support and equity. Some have proposed that the INDCs will be reviewed or assessed, revised and finalised and only then anchored (as “commitment” or something else) in the 2015 agreement (Section 5).
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