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Stepping Up 2020 NDCs

Resources for Countries to Enhance National Climate Plans (NDCs) Under the Paris Agreement

Download an overview of WRI's resources on NDC enhancement

To set the course for a net-zero emissions future, the historic 2015 Paris Agreement established a goal of limiting warming to well below 2 degrees C, and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees C. However, the initial national commitments that countries put forward in Paris are not enough to avoid these temperature thresholds. The IPCC found that large-scale, immediate transformation is needed. Greenhouse gas emissions must be slashed by almost half from recent levels by 2030 to avoid the most dangerous and costly consequences of climate change.

Every country agreed to prepare and communicate an updated nationally determined contribution (NDC) every five years to reflect progress toward its highest possible ambition. Five years after the Paris Agreement was adopted, countries are now preparing to submit new NDCs by 2020.

To assist with this critical process, UNDP and WRI have developed guidance to help countries think through how to structure their enhanced NDCs across three dimensions: how to strengthen targets to reduce emissions (mitigation), how to enhance climate resilience (adaptation) and how to clearly communicate their actions to build trust and facilitate effective implementation.

Enhancing NDCs: A Guide to Strengthening National Climate Plans by 2020
Taryn Fransen, Ichiro Sato, Kelly Levin, David Waskow, David Rich, Sadya Ndoko, and Julie Teng

Sectoral Opportunities to Step Up NDCs

Countries can incorporate or strengthen targets and policies in their NDCs across a wide range of sectors which can curb emissions while delivering substantial economic and development benefits.  In December 2019, WRI and UNDP published a series of papers on how to take advantage of these opportunities:  

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2020 NDC Tracker

Countries are sending early signals that they will enhance their NDCs by 2020. Visit Climate Watch’s 2020 NDC Tracker to view the table and learn more.


The Path to Zero Emissions: Food Loss and Waste

The WRI Food Program’s Brian Lipinski explains why food waste is a climate change problem — and what countries must do to fix it.

The Path to Zero Emissions: Buildings

Jennifer Layke of WRI’s Energy Program explains how buildings are linked to climate change — and what countries must do to fix it.

The Path to Zero Emissions: Restoring Land

The WRI Forest Program’s Dow Maneerattana explains why land degradation is a climate change problem — and what countries must do to fix it.

The Path to Zero Emissions: Super Pollutants

The WRI Climate Program’s Katie Ross explains why carbon isn't the only greenhouse gas we need to worry about — and what countries must do to reduce super pollutants to fight climate change.

The Path to Zero Emissions: Electric Vehicles

WRI’s Camron Gorguinpour explains why expanding adoption of electric vehicles is so important to fight climate change — and what countries must do to encourage it.

The Path to Zero Emissions: What is Net Zero?

WRI’s Kelly Levin explains "net zero" — and what countries must do to encourage it. This video is part of a series spotlighting various climate-related challenges — and solutions — and how countries can better address them in their national climate plans.

Benefits of Enhancing NDCs

The urgency of addressing the climate crisis should be enough motivation to act, but countries also will benefit in many other ways from enhancing their NDCs:

The New Climate Economy estimates that ambitious climate action could generate $26 trillion in economic benefits between now and 2030, create 65 million jobs in 2030 and avoid 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution. Reflecting enhanced ambition in NDCs can be an opportunity for countries to rally stakeholders in support of implementation and to attract finance, technology and capacity-building support from the international community.

Taking ambitious climate action also can deliver development benefits to countries, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. These benefits include increased access to energy and sustainable transport, improved agricultural productivity and healthier environments overall. Beyond such immediate benefits, transformative climate action is critical to building resilience to the growing impacts of climate change.

Enhancing NDCs also signals investment opportunities for public finance institutions and private investors to support. This must be complemented by increased finance and the alignment of financial flows with the Paris goals, so that countries can meet their climate commitments.

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