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PBL Climate Pledge NDC tool

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global mean temperature increase to well below 2 °C and pursue efforts to limit it to below 1.5 °C. To achieve this, 189 Parties have submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, so-called INDCs, outlining their post-2020 climate action. These INDCs became “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDCs) following the ratification of the agreement. The PBL Climate Pledge NDC tool shows the targets in these NDCs/INDCs and the pledges made earlier for 2020. For 25 major emitting Parties, the tool compares these targets with greenhouse gas emission projections with and without current domestic climate policies up to 2030.

Results: NDC emission targets and the impact of policies

Global

Share of global emissions in 2010: 100%

Source: PBL, 2020

The figure shows the impact of projected aggregated emission reductions resulting from the full implementation of most unconditional and conditional NDCs submitted to date, compared to the business-as-usual and current policy scenarios, and the least-cost 2 °C and 1.5 °C scenarios. The main findings are:

  • Almost all of the 25 Parties analysed have climate policies in place that reduce emissions, but, for about 12 of these Parties, reductions fall short of those targeted in their NDCs.
  • The emission reductions resulting from the NDCs will be insufficient to put the world on a cost-effective pathway to secure a likely chance of keeping global temperature increase below 2 °C. Implementation of the unconditional and conditional NDCs would still leave an emission gap of 15 and 12 GtCO2e, respectively, to securing this likely chance.
  • For limiting temperature increase to 1.5 °C, the gap is about 17 GtCO2e larger for both NDC scenarios, i.e. the unconditional and conditional NDC scenario. The required emission level by 2030 is determined by assuming a cost-optimal global reduction pathway from 2020 onwards.

The gap is so large that governments, the private sector and communities need to make their climate pledges more ambitious and focus on early and more stringent mitigation action. However, some countries, regions, cities and businesses have promised or implemented urgently needed climate action (Höhne et al., 2020). For example, 76 countries or regions and 14 subnational regions or states have set or even implemented net-zero emissions goals, see: newclimate.org/ambitiousactions. Closing the gap will require scaling up these few success stories and mirroring them with progress in every sector.

NDCs: country classification according to type of target

In advance of the Paris meeting, almost all countries submitted their national post-2020 climate action plans and commitments, as part of their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). These commitments are the foundation of the Paris Agreement. By 15 June 2017, 189 of the 197 Parties had submitted their INDCs, representing about 98% of global 2012 emissions (submissions can be found on the UNFCCC website ). Over 160 Parties have ratified the agreement; thus, turning their INDCs into NDCs. Hereafter we will use the term NDC, given all but two of the 25 countries (Russian Federation and Turkey) assessed here have ratified the Paris Agreement. When developing the tool, we assessed the mitigation components of the NDCs of 114 of these Parties (representing approximately 94% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2010).

The mitigation components of the NDCs represent several types of targets, as summarised below (UNEP, 2015):

  • Base year target: economy-wide absolute reduction from historical base year emissions. NDCs report on an absolute reduction from historical base year emissions. The base year chosen varies, with 1990, 2005 and 2010 being the most common.
  • Baseline or BAU target: emission reductions relative to a baseline or business-as-usual projection (specified in the NDCs). The type of emission reduction relative to a baseline or business-as-usual projection has been chosen for many NDCs, mainly for countries located in South America and Central America, Africa and South Asia. The mitigation component of the NDCs specifies the business-as-usual emission projection.
  • Baseline or BAU target (not specified): emission reductions relative to a baseline projection (not specified). Same as under point 2, but here, for the NDCs, baseline or business-as-usual emission projections are not specified, such as for those of the Philippines and Venezuela. For the calculations, we used the baseline projections from national studies (when available) and the PBL business-as-usual projections.
  • Intensity target. At least five countries, including Malaysia, in their NDCs, indicate reductions in emission intensity in GDP as the main type of mitigation.
  • Intensity and non-GHG target: emission intensity target and non-greenhouse gas target. China and India aim for emission intensity improvements, a target for non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption/power capacity, and for China, a target year for the peaking of emissions.
  • Trajectory and fixed-level target. South Africa has a trajectory target stating the emission ranges for 2025 and 2030. Several countries, such as Israel and Ethiopia, put forward a fixed-level target, specifying the MtCO2e that they intend not to exceed in a given year.
  • Submitted actions (cannot be quantified). Finally, many countries include mere qualitative descriptions of mitigation actions in their NDCs, or specific targets for sub-sectors, such as for the implementation of renewable energy. As such targets complicate a precise quantification, we have not analysed them here. This group of countries covers about 6% of the global emissions of 2010.

Pre-2020 Pledge map: Country classification according to type of commitment

Under the 2010 Cancún Agreements (United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Cancún in 2010), 42 developed countries submitted economy-wide emission reduction proposals for 2020. Furthermore, at the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC in Doha, in 2012, a group of developed countries made reduction commitments for the 2013–2020 period, under the Kyoto Protocol. Finally, 55 developing countries submitted so-called nationally appropriate mitigation measures to this climate convention. Of these countries, 16 have framed their measures in terms of quantified economy-wide reduction targets. The countries with either reduction proposals, reduction commitments, or economy-wide nationally appropriate mitigation measures, together, accounted for 75% of global emissions in 2010.

The pledges and measures of countries under the Cancún Agreements and the Kyoto Protocol, as shown on the map, have been grouped into four categories:

  • Quantified commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. A group of developed countries have made reduction commitments for the period between 2013 and 2020, under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Pledges formulated in terms of economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions under the Cancún Agreements. Another group of developed countries have proposed greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2020, defined in terms of reductions against a certain base year level.
  • Submitted measures under the Cancún Agreements. Many developing countries have submitted certain measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as the implementation of renewable energy targets.
  • No pledge or measures. All countries that have not submitted commitments, pledges, or measures to the Climate Convention.

Progress of countries towards achieving their NDCs

The report by Kuramochi et al. (2018) provides an overview of projected greenhouse gas emissions, for 25 major emitting countries/regions (map below) up to 2030, taking into account the emission trajectories based on current policies and the implementation of NDCs. Current policy trajectories reflect all adopted and implemented policies, defined here as legislative decisions, executive orders, or their equivalent. This excludes publicly announced plans or strategies, while individual policies to implement such plans or strategies would qualify. The main findings of this study are:

Progress made by countries towards achieving their self-chosen 2025 and/or 2030 targets, under current policies.

About 12 out of the 25 major emitting countries still not on track to achieve targets set in NDCs The 2019 update takes into account policy developments since the 2018 report and latest historical greenhouse gas emissions data. The degree to which the 25 major emitting countries are likely to achieve their NDC targets under current policies was found to vary.

  • Of the 25 countries and regions studied here, 12 are more or less on track to achieve their self-determined unconditional 2025/2030 targets, with currently implemented policies. These include Argentina (new in this category, compared to our 2018 report), Chile (new), China, Colombia, EU28 (new), India, Japan (new), the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa (new), Turkey and the Ukraine.
  • For three countries (India, Turkey and Ukraine), current policies scenario projections for 2030 were found to be more than 15% lower than the unconditional NDC target levels, suggesting a less ambitious target.
  • Argentina is now assessed as being on track to achieve its NDC, because of lower projections for economic growth and LULUCF emissions.
  • The EU has agreed legislation that when fully implemented is projected to meet its NDC target.
  • Chile is now assessed as being on track, due to the inclusion of the Electromobility Strategy and the first stage of the coal phase-out plan.
  • Japan is now assessed as being on track due to the higher share of renewables in the electricity mix.
  • South Africa is now assessed as being on track because of the updated Integrated Resource Plan as well as the revised (lower) historical emissions data.
  • For Mexico, the achievement of 2030 targets was found to be uncertain with implemented policies.
  • The other 12 countries require additional measures to achieve their 2025/2030 targets.
  • It should be noted that when a country is ‘likely’ to meet its targets, this does not necessarily mean that it is taking more stringent action on mitigation than one that is not on track, because it depends on the ambition level of the NDC target and on differences between national policies.

About the tool

The PBL Climate Pledge NDC tool addresses the following three key questions:

  1. What are the countries’ emissions projections for the NDCs for 2030?
  2. Will the projected aggregated impact of the fully implemented NDCs on global emissions, for 2030, be sufficient to achieve the target of staying well below 2 °C / 1.5 °C?
  3. Are countries on track to meet their 2020 pledges and NDCs for the period up to 2030?

To address these questions, the tool shows the projected impact of the emission reduction proposals (2020 pledges or NDCs) and current policies, per country and globally, on greenhouse gas emission, up to 2030. This tool analyses the mitigation components of the NDCs of 161 of the 197 Parties (together representing about 99.5% of emissions in 2017). More specifically, the tool shows the effect of:

  • Pledges: national and global greenhouse gas emission projections for 2020, assuming that pledges will be fully achieved;
  • Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs): national and global greenhouse gas emission projections for 2030, assuming that NDCs will be fully achieved;
  • Current policies: the impact of national climate and energy policies, such as carbon taxation, feed-in tariffs, and standards on emission levels of 2020 and 2030, for 25 major emitting countries and regions.

The projections show total emissions per country, emissions per capita, and emissions per unit of income. The various indicators provide countries with information on how their contribution compares to those of others (Review).

Methodology

The impact of the most effective current and planned policies on greenhouse gas emissions up to 2030 has been projected by the NewClimate Institute, IIASA and PBL (Kuramochi et al., 2018; Den Elzen et al., 2016b). Current and planned policies were selected on the basis of literature research and expert knowledge. Experts involved in the CD-LINKS project (www.cd-links.org) reviewed the full list of policies, after which a shortlist was compiled of those expected to have the greatest impact on greenhouse gas emissions, for further quantification. The calculations by NewClimate Institute were largely based on its analyses for the Climate Action Tracker project, jointly carried out with Ecofys and Climate Analytics (CAT, 2019). For the calculation, existing scenarios from national and international studies were used, as well as NewClimate Institute’s own calculations of the impact of individual policies in various sub-sectors. PBL based their calculations for the current policies scenarios (all sectors, except land use) on the IMAGE model; IIASA’s projections (the land-use sector only) were based on their global land-use model GLOBIOM and global forest model G4M. Basis of the PBL calculations of the impact of climate policies is the SSP2 baseline (no climate policy), as implemented in the IMAGE model (Van Vuuren et al., 2017). Current climate and energy policies in G20 countries, as identified in the CD-LINKS project, were added to that baseline. For countries that are part of a larger IMAGE region (Australia, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, and Ukraine), emissions projections were downscaled using the country’s share in the region’s 2015 emissions as a constant scaling factor.

Land-use change accounting method: Most of the 25 analysed countries and many of the remaining countries report emission target levels that include CO2 removals from activities related to the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector. Although there are uncertainties concerning which accounting approaches and methodologies countries will apply to account for LULUCF related emissions and removals, we assume that a majority of countries will apply the net-net accounting approach, so land use emissions are included in the same way as the emissions from the other sectors (see also Appendix A2, Kuramochi et al., 2019).

Quantification of the pledges was performed using the FAIR model (Den Elzen et al., 2013; Hof et al., 2013). As policies are subject to change, the web tool uses the current state of affairs. Quantification of the NDCs is described, in detail, in Den Elzen et al. (2016), and the quantification of the land-use targets in the NDCs is described, in detail, in Grassi et al. (2017) and Forsell et al. (2016).

Data

The GHG emissions projections were harmonised with historical 1990–2017 emissions. For most Annex I countries, the historical emissions data is based on the Greenhouse Gas Inventories submitted in 2019 to the UNFCCC (UNFCCC, 2019a). For many non-Annex I countries, the historical data was taken from the national reports (National Communications and Biennial Update Reports) (UNFCCC, 2019b, UNFCCC, 2019c) (when available), EDGAR database (Olivier and Peters, 2019) (GHG emissions excluding land-use) and FAOSTAT (2020) data (land-use emissions) (for details for the 25 major emitting countries, see Kuramochi et al., 2019). GHG emissions projections under current policies were harmonised to the latest historical emissions data. The harmonisation year was changed to 2017 for Annex I countries and the latest data year for non-Annex I countries.

All GHG emission figures are expressed using the 100-year global warming potentials (GWPs) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report. Since Kuramochi et al. provide GHG emissions projections for 12 of the 25 countries (i.e. Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Thailand), using GWPs from the IPCC Second Assessment Report and Fifth Assessment Report, we converted them into IPCC AR4 GWP terms by applying conversion factors (range: 1.01 to 1.03) derived from the national inventories. This allows for a direct comparison of current policies scenario and NDC projections between countries. However it implies that the target emission levels shown can be somewhat different from the official target emission levels reported by the national governments that are provided in terms of GWPs specified in the NDC documents. For most countries, emission projections encompass all greenhouse gas emissions, including those from land use, land-use change and forestry.

To calculate per capita and per GDP indicators, we used the population projections from the UN World Population Prospects 2019 (UN DESA, 2019) and GDP projections from the OECD long-term forecast (OECD, 2018), supplemented with the projections underlying the IMAGE SSP2 scenario. The historical data from 1990 to 2018 on GDP (in PPP) and population was based on the IEA dataset (World Energy Indicators).

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The emission projections based on the NDCs and current policies can be found in Den Elzen et al. (2016) and Kuramochi et al. (2019). If you plan to use these data in official publications, please contact us.

Acknowledgements

This study is financed by Directorate-General Climate Action (DG-CLIMA), under contract to DG-CLIMA (No. 340201/2017/764007/SER/CLIMA.C1), and the Linking Climate and Development Policies – Leveraging International Networks and Knowledge Sharing (CD-LINKS) project, financed by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 642147 (CD-LINKS). We acknowledge and are grateful for the contributions of, and discussion with, all colleagues of NewClimate Institute and IIASA involved, in particular Andries Hof and Detlef van Vuuren (all PBL), Hanna Fekete, Niklas Höhne and Takeshi Kuramochi (all NewClimate Institute), and Nicklas Forsell (IIASA), with a special thanks to Allard Warrink (PBL) for all his work on the infographics.

Main publications

  • Den Elzen MGJ, Admiraal A, Roelfsema M, Van Soest H, Hof AF and Forsell N. (2016a). Contribution of the G20 economies to the global impact of the Paris agreement climate proposals. Climatic Change 137, 655–665.
  • Den Elzen MGJ, Kuramochi T, Höhne N, Cantzler J, Esmeijer K, Fekete H, et al, 2019. Are the G20 economies making enough progress to meet their NDC targets? Energy Policy 126, 238-250.
  • Kuramochi T, Nascimento L, de Villafranca Casas MJ, Fekete H, Höhne N, van Soest H, Den Elzen MGJ, Esmeijer K, Roelfsema M, Forsell N, Turkovska O, Gusti M (2018). Greenhouse gas mitigation scenarios for major emitting countries: Analysis of current and planned climate policies, and mitigation pledges : 2019 update. NewClimate Institute, PBL, IIASA, Cologne (Germany), The Hague (the Netherlands), Laxenburg (Austria), www.pbl.nl/en/publications/greenhouse-gas-mitigation-scenarios-for-major-emitting-countries-2019-update.
  • Rogelj J, Den Elzen MGJ, Höhne N, Fransen T, Fekete H, Winkler H, Schaeffer R, Sha F, Riahi K and Meinshausen M. (2016). Paris Agreement climate proposals need a boost to keep warming well below 2 °C. Nature 534, 631–639.
  • Höhne N, den Elzen M, Rogelj J, et al. (2020) Emissions: world has four times the work or one-third of the time. Nature 579: pp. 25-28, nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00571-x

References

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  • Grassi G, House J, Dentener F, Federici S, Den Elzen MGJ and Penman J. (2017). The key role of forests in meeting climate targets requires science for credible mitigation. Nature Climate Change 7, 220–226.
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Authors website

Michel den Elzen, Jos Olivier, Heleen van Soest and Allard Warrink.