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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, more than 190 Parties have submitted Nationally Determined Contributions, so-called NDCs, outlining their post-2020 climate action. By 27 September, 2021, 120 countries (including the EU and its 27 EU member states), representing about 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, had communicated new or updated NDCs. In addition, China, Japan and South Korea have announced enhanced pledges, but have not yet formally communicated them to the UNFCCC. These announcements would further increase the share of global emissions covered by NDC updates to 76%. The PBL Climate Pledge NDC tool shows the targets in these NDCs (also including the updates) and the pledges made earlier for 2020. For 26 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 26 Parties analysed have climate policies in place that reduce emissions, but for 12 of these Parties, reductions fall short of those targeted in their original NDCs.
  • The NDC updates − conditional and unconditional − have an aggregated impact on global GHG emissions of about -4 and -3.7 GtCO2e by 2030 respectively, compared to the first round of NDCs, which reduces the 2030 emissions gap for 2 °C with about 30%, and for 1.5 °C with 15%
  • Seven G20 economies with new or updated NDCs have pledged stronger GHG reduction targets, leading to an additional reductions of the aggregated emissions of about 3.1 GtCO2e by 2030 compared to the original NDCs, which 75-85% of the aggregated global reduction. The largest contribution of the seven G20 economies come from the US, the EU27, Japan, China, the UK, Argentina and Canada.
  • However, the emission reductions resulting from the NDCs will still 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 11 and 9 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). 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). Over about 195 countries have ratified the agreement; thus, turning their INDCs into NDCs (recent submissions can be found on the UNFCC website). The following countries have not ratified the Paris Agreement: Angola, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, South Sudan, Turkey and Yemen. When developing the tool, we assessed the mitigation components of the NDCs of 144 of these Parties (representing approximately 95% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019).

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.

As of 27 September 2021, about 120 countries have submitted new NDC targets. Most of these countries have submitted the same type of NDC targets, but there are changes. For example, Argentina, Chile and Peru now have a fixed level target, and Republic of Korea has a reduction target compared to historical base year emissions.

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 Nascimento 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 of the original NDCs, under current policies.

About 12 out of the 26 major emitting countries still not on track to achieve targets set in the original NDCs The analysis takes into account current policy developments and considers the most recent NDC submissions as well as the impact of COVID-19 on GHG emissions. The degree to which the 26 major emitting countries are likely to achieve their original NDC targets under current policies was found to vary.

  • Of the 26 countries and regions studied here, 14 are more or less on track to achieve their self-determined unconditional 2025/2030 targets of the original NDC targets, with currently implemented policies. These include Argentina, China, the EU27, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Japan, Morocco, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, and Vietnam.
  • Eight (Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Morocco, Russian Federation, South Africa, Vietnam) are on track to also meet their updated NDC targets (with another two countries being close: Argentina and Mexico).
  • For two countries (India and Turkey), 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.
  • Four countries were not expected to meet their original targets with existing policies but already increased the ambition of their NDCs. Canada, Republic of Korea, Ukraine and the USA submitted stronger NDC targets.
  • 11 countries are not on track to meet their updated targets, and five of the 26 countries have not submitted an NDC update
  • 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 original NDCs for the period up to 2030?

To address these questions, the tool shows the projected impact of the emission reduction proposals (NDCs) and current policies, per country and globally, on greenhouse gas emissions, up to 2030. This tool analyses the mitigation components of the NDCs of 144 of the 197 Parties (together representing about 95% of emissions in 2019). 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 (Nascimento et al., 2021; 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, COMMIT, and ENGAGE projects 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 Climate Analytics (CAT, 2021). 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; Roelfsema et al., 2020). Current climate and energy policies in G20 countries, as identified in the CD-LINKS, COMMIT, and ENGAGE 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.

In this update we also assess the effect of COVID-19 on GHG emissions projections. NewClimate emissions estimates including the effect of COVID-19 assume that emissions intensity over GDP remains the same as it would under current policies excluding the effect of COVID-19 and that the reduction in emissions is induced by a slowdown in GDP growth.

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 Nascimento et al., 2021).

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 1990–2019 emissions. For most Annex I countries, the historical emissions data is based on the Greenhouse Gas Inventories submitted in 2019 to the UNFCCC (UNFCCC, 2021). For many non-Annex I countries, the historical data was taken from the national reports (National Communications and Biennial Update Reports) (UNFCCC, 2021a, UNFCCC, 2021b) (when available), EDGAR database (Olivier and Peters, 2020) (GHG emissions excluding land-use) and FAOSTAT (2021) data (land-use emissions) (for details for the 26 major emitting countries, see Nascimento et al., 2021). GHG emissions projections under current policies were harmonised to the latest historical emissions data. The harmonisation year was changed to 2019 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. 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).

Download

  • The emission projections based on the NDCs and current policies as of 30 September 2021, can be found here.
  • The emission projections based on the NDCs and current policies as of 31 January 2022, can be found here.
If you plan to use these data in official publications, please contact us.

Citation

This website needs to be cited as: den Elzen, M., Dafnomilis, I. and van Soest, H. 2021. “PBL Climate Pledge NDC tool” PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, https://themasites.pbl.nl/o/climate-ndc-policies-tool/ (September 2021)

Acknowledgements

This study is financed by Directorate-General Climate Action (DG-CLIMA), under contract to DG-CLIMA (No. 340201/2019/815311/SERICLIMA.C.1), and the COMMIT project, financed by the Directorate General Climate Action (DG CLIMA) and EuropeAid under grant agreement No. 21020701/2017/770447/SER/CLIMA.C.1 EuropeAid/138417/DH/SER/MulitOC (COMMIT). 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.
  • Nascimento L, Kuramochi T, de Villafranca Casas MJ, Fekete H, de Vivero G, Lui S, . . ., H. van Soest., den Elzen, M.G.J.,. . ., Gusti M (2021) Greenhouse gas mitigation scenarios for major emitting countries. Analysis of current climate policies and mitigation commitments: 2021 update, NewClimate Institute (Cologne, Germany), PBL (The Hague, the Netherlands), IIASA (Austria). www.pbl.nl/en/publications/greenhouse-gas-mitigation-scenarios-for-major-emitting-countries-2021-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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Authors website

Michel den Elzen, Ioannis Dafnomilis, Heleen van Soest and Allard Warrink.