In the lead-up to the December 2015 Paris climate conference, more than 180 countries that account for more than 90% of global greenhouse gas emissions put forward post-2020 climate plans known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). WRI experts provided INDC guidance for use by all countries and worked with several governments to strengthen their plans. WRI also separately conducted an analysis that found that the ambitious U.S. climate target is achievable.

The Challenge

The INDCs have the potential to put the world on a path toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. To be effective, these pledges should be ambitious and equitable, so that each country does its fair share to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The pledges should also be transparent in order to build trust and accountability and to make the collective impact of the commitments clear.

WRI’s Role

Key countries – some of which became catalysts in international negotiations culminating in the Paris climate conference – used WRI’s guidance, developed with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and technical support in developing their INDCs. WRI offered training about the guidance to three-quarters of the countries participating in the climate talks. WRI supplemented this guidance with an “Open Book” list of information countries should provide in their INDCs, focused on enhancing transparency, prepared in consultation with government representatives. Finally, WRI conducted an analysis that concluded that the emissions reduction target in the U.S. INDC – 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 – is challenging but achievable using existing legal authority. (WRI did not contribute to the creation of the U.S. INDC.)

The Impact

WRI helped inform well-designed INDCs, allowing countries to signal to the world they are doing their part to combat climate change. Use of the Open Book list has enhanced the transparency and quality of information provided in INDCs, which will lead to greater accountability and help enable an understanding of whether country commitments are collectively ambitious enough to keep warming to below 2 degrees Celsius or to what extent additional action is needed.

WRI’s analysis of the U.S. target – the only independent, economy-wide detailed analysis of emissions reduction potential under existing authority – helped the world to view the U.S. target as credible and achievable, which contributed to momentum toward a strong climate deal in Paris.