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What is an INDC?

Countries across the globe committed to create a new international climate agreement by the conclusion of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in December 2015. In preparation, countries have agreed to publicly outline what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new international agreement, known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The INDCs will largely determine whether the world achieves an ambitious 2015 agreement and is put on a path toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.

For tools, blog posts and publications related to INDCs, visit our INDC resources page.

How does the process work?

The process for INDCs pairs national policy-setting — in which countries determine their contributions in the context of their national priorities, circumstances and capabilities — with a global framework that drives collective action toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.

The INDCs can create a constructive feedback loop between national and international decision-making on climate change.

INDCs are the primary means for governments to communicate internationally the steps they will take to address climate change in their own countries. INDCs will reflect each country’s ambition for reducing emissions, taking into account its domestic circumstances and capabilities. Some countries may also address how they’ll adapt to climate change impacts, and what support they need from, or will provide to, other countries to adopt low-carbon pathways and to build climate resilience.

When will we see them?

A number of countries have already submitted their INDCs, including the European Union, the United States, Russia and Mexico. Many other countries are expected to communicate their INDCs before October 2015.

Visit WRI’s interactive Paris Contributions Map to track the latest proposed commitments.

All INDCs submitted to the Secretariat by October 1st will be included in a synthesis report by the UNFCCC Secretariat that will be released by November 1st. The report will reflect the aggregate emissions impact of available INDCs ahead of COP21.

What makes a good INDC?

Well-designed INDCs will signal to the world that the country is doing its part to combat climate change and limit future climate risks. Countries should follow a transparent process when preparing their INDC in order to build trust and accountability with domestic and international stakeholders. A good INDC should be ambitious, leading to transformation in carbon-intensive sectors and industry; transparent, so that stakeholders can track progress and ensure countries meet their stated goals; and equitable, so that each country does its fair share to address climate change. It is important that INDCs be clearly communicated so domestic and international stakeholders can anticipate how these actions will contribute to global emissions reductions and climate resilience in the future.

An INDC should also articulate how the country is integrating climate change into other national priorities, such as sustainable development and poverty reduction, and send signals to the private sector to contribute to these efforts.

What is WRI doing on this topic?

WRI is working on a variety of projects that aim to assist governments in preparing INDCs and help stakeholders understand and evaluate INDCs:

The Open Climate Network is working with partners in eight focus countries to evaluate current emissions trends and abatement potential out to 2030, with a view to informing initial INDCs. Following the release of the INDCs, OCN and its partners will evaluate mitigation pledges based on insights from the GHG Protocol and other tools. This data will provide critical information to decision-makers in the world’s largest economies that will enable the development of ambitious GHG reduction targets in their INDCs.

In partnership with the UNDP, WRI has prepared an INDC guidance document to support the detailed design and preparation of INDCs, including for mitigation and adaptation components and explanations of fairness and ambition.

WRI also works on INDCs through our Open Book initiative that enhances INDC transparency. The ACT 2015 project works to catalyze agreement at COP21, including the ways in which countries’ commitments and other actions from their INDCs are finalized and linked to the 2015 agreement. Our CAIT Paris Contributions Map tracks and analyzes INDCs as countries submit them.

WRI prepared a short framework, called Decoding INDCs, to aide understanding of key elements of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that countries are putting forward in the lead-up to the Paris negotiations. Organized around six key questions to ask about each country’s INDC, this resource provides guidance for understanding proposed country contributions. Decoding INDCs is also available in French and Spanish.

Where can I learn more?

For more information about INDCs, visit our INDC resources page.

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