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China and others announce INDCs more Parties must follow suit

China has announced its Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution (INDC) to the global climate effort, meaning that the three largest emitters – the US, EU and China – have now put their opening bids on the table in advance of the Paris climate talks in December. While it is good that more countries have submitted INDCs, the total official submissions to the UNFCCC numbers only 16, out of a total of 192 signatories to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It’s not like INDCs have come as a surprise, and developed countries in particular need to make their submissions expeditiously.

The world largest carbon emitter has promised to peak its emissions by 2030 and make “best efforts” to peak earlier than that. China is already making significant progress to this end, having actually reduced coal consumption by 2.9% in 2014, the first time since 1998. This may represent peak coal in China; the country achieved growth of 7.4% at the same time and efforts to address air pollution make coal a decreasingly attractive energy source. The 2030 peak year however seems to assume continuous coal consumption growth until at least 2020[1].

China also seeks to continue its decoupling of economic growth from emissions, by reducing the carbon intensity of its economy by 60-65% from 2005 levels, building on its 40-45% pledge for 2020. Emissions will be addressed through a broad range of measures, including increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to ~20% and enhancing the use clean use of coal. The land use sector is also seen as important: China has already increased its forest area by 21.6 million hectares and its forest stock volume to 2.188 billion m3 (2005-2014), and plans to increase this to ~4.5bn m3 by 2030. No forest area target was included in the INDC.

Showing concordance with Pope Francis, China calls for lifestyles changes, planning to promote the “low carbon way of life” through enhanced education of its citizens and “to advocate green, low-carbon, healthy and civilized way of life and consumption patterns and to promote low-carbon consumption throughout society”. With a population of 1.3 billion people, lifestyle changes could be a significant contributor to reducing emissions.

Other recent INDCs have been submitted by Canada, Morocco, Ethiopia, Serbia, Iceland and the Republic of Korea: 


Canada’s pledge is for -30% on 2005 levels by 2030, including land use accounting a way that will strongly reduce the emissions reductions required by the fossil sectors. With breathtaking lack of cognitive dissonance with regard to the need to move away from a fossil economy, the INDC notes small scale use of CCS at a tar sands operation. Canada furthermore expects to be able to use international credits to achieve a target that Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has assessed as “inadequate”.

Morocco, on the other hand, gains a CAT rating of “sufficient”, showing that it has pledged a fair share towards the global effort. Morocco aims to reduce emissions by 32% by 2030 compared to BAU projections, with international support. It also pledges a unilateral goal of -13% against BAU. The country places a strong emphasis on adaptation, having spent 9% of overall investment expenditure on adaptation measures between 2005-2010.

Ethiopia has a long term goal of complete deacrbonization and for 2030 it aims to reduce emissions by 64% from BAU. As a Least developed Country, this shows a strong commitment to following a different development path to those based on a fossil economy. It will focus on afforestation and land rehabilitation and clean and renewable energy to meet its goal.

Serbia, an EU prospective member aligned itself with EU climate policies by pledging to reduce its emissions by 9.8% by 2030 on 1990 levels.

Iceland also plans to harmonize with the EU, assuming the EU 40% target for 2030, and awaiting the outcomes of effort sharing decisions within the bloc. Iceland is already part of the EU ETS, and appear open to joining the EU’s approach to the non-ETS sectors post-2020. Already high in renewables energy, Iceland plans to roll out afforestation & reforestation and wetland restoration measures as part of its efforts to reduce emissions.

Korea has pledged to reduce its emissions by 37% from BAU by 2030. Since it has a GDP per capita PPP roughly the same as New Zealand, NGOs have been calling for the country to take on an absolute emissions limitation or reduction target since 2009. Korea invokes a strong and already-efficient manufacturing sector and blames low public acceptability for nuclear post-Fukushima as reasons for not being able to mitigate further.



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