While some countries recently broke new ground in climate ambition, a report on nationally determined contributions (NDCs) shows that there is still a long way to go to realise the full implementation of countries’ pledges under the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The past few weeks brought news about the efforts of two countries to implement climate change action, illustrating ways in which they are assuming leadership roles. Providing an example of how it is working toward achieving SDG 7 (ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all), China nearly doubled its solar power capacity in 2016, to 77.42 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2016. With this rapid increase, China becomes the single largest producer of solar energy by capacity in the world. According to development plans set out by the National Energy Administration, China will continue this trend, investing in solar energy in order to increase capacity another 110 GW by 2020.
The other country that recently made the headlines for its climate action is Sweden, who signed what many consider to be the world’s most ambitious climate change framework to date. The framework consists of a climate act, new climate goals and a climate policy council, based on an agreement reached in the Cross-Party Committee on Environmental Objectives.
According to the goals, by 2045, emissions generated from activities in Sweden will be at least 85% lower than in 1990. Also by 2045 and thereafter, Sweden will have no net emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), which may rely on “supplementary measures” such as forest sinks or investment in other countries to achieve zero net emissions.
Before 2045, the climate change framework sets out interim goals for emissions in Sweden falling outside the purview of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). By 2030, emissions should be at least 63% below 1990 levels and, by 2040, 75% lower than 1990 levels. Emissions from domestic aviation transport are to be reduced by 70% below 2010 levels by 2030. The Climate Act, which will review progress against these targets and sets out policies to achieve them, takes effect on 1 January 2018.
A report of the Nairobi Framework Partnership on NDC implementation finds that countries in West Africa, East Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean urgently need support to green their power sectors.
Amid this ground breaking action and planning, a more sobering report illustrates what is required for developing countries to realise their NDCs under the Paris Agreement. The Nairobi Framework Partnership’s report summarises findings from a survey of the Regional Collaboration Centres (RCCs) in West Africa, East Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) on NDC implementation.
The primary finding is that all these regions urgently need support to green their power sectors. Countries in Asia and Africa also prioritised support to improve waste management and transport systems, while sustainable forestry was important in the Caribbean and East Africa. This finding in particular highlights the cross-cutting nature of the SDGs, that climate action (SDG 13) can support SDGs on waste management (SDGs 12.3 and 12.4), transportation (SDG 11.2), and forestry (SDGs 15.2 and 15.9). Support to develop carbon markets or economic instruments for mitigation was a low priority for most countries in the survey, although many did call for urgent support to help them access finance. For many surveyed, the timeline to complete intended nationally determined contribution (INDCs) in the lead up to the Paris Agreement was too short. They therefore also expressed a desire to update their NDCs in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
By Jennifer Allan (Thematic Expert for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy, Canada)