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Nations need to agree to reduce aviation emissions

Image courtesy International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

The new Paris Agreement provides a broad global framework to strengthen efforts to address climate change. Now, governments are working toward another agreement on a critical issue Paris doesn’t directly address – reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

The Paris Agreement, negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ties together national efforts pledged by more than 180 countries to limit or reduce their own emissions. However, international aviation is inherently a cross-border activity, and a global approach to reducing emissions from aviation is being negotiated separately under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). A new sector-wide agreement is expected this October.

Emissions from the aviation sector comprised 2 percent of global emissions in 2013, but that share is set to expand rapidly by 2050 without policy interventions. In 2010, the aviation industry carried 2.4 billion passengers and 40 million metric tons of goods. By 2050, that could grow to 16 billion passengers and 400 million metric tons of goods.

If global aviation were a country, it would rank as the seventh largest carbon dioxide emitter. So reducing emissions from aviation is critical to meeting the global goal of limiting average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

ICAO was established in 1947 to regulate civil aviation by establishing common standards on safety, pollution, technology, and other important issues. In 2010, governments adopted a goal put forward by the airline industry to achieve carbon neutrality from 2020 onwards – known as CNG2020. This means that, from 2020 onwards, net carbon emissions from international aviation would remain constant.

Negotiations are moving toward an agreement on how to achieve this target. The key challenge will be allocating obligations to individual countries. The Chicago Convention, which established ICAO, is based on the principle of uniform application (e.g., all nations must meet the same standards), which is in contrast to the concept of common but differentiated responsibilities familiar to those involved in the UNFCCC. It will be a challenge for negotiators to find a workable compromise that apportions obligations in a manner deemed fair by all nations.

To meet the CNG2020 goal, a number of policy options are available. Technology improvements in aircraft and engine design, operational efficiency gains, and investments in new infrastructure will all reduce emissions. Additionally, the development and possible use of biofuels would drive down emissions by reducing the jet fuels burned by aircraft.

However, in the face of continued aviation sector growth, industry believes that emission reductions occurring outside the sector must also be available to count toward the goal. At the 38th ICAO Assembly in 2013, member states agreed to develop a global market-based mechanism, allowing for offsetting aviation sector emissions. A task force has been deliberating the rules and eligibility criteria that would underpin this mechanism, and it is hoped that these rules will be adopted at the October ICAO Assembly and take effect from 2020.

2016 is an opportunity to continue the momentum of international cooperation on climate change, with aviation becoming the first sector to sign a binding international agreement to reduce its emissions. 

Submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)

At the 19th session of the Committee of Parties (COP 19) in Warsaw, Poland, countries agreed to submit to the UNFCCC their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to the Paris agreement. These contributions represent targets and actions for the post-2020 period. Below is a list of all INDCs currently submitted to the UNFCCC, including a link to the INDC itself.

To date 161 INDCs from 188 countries, accounting for over 90 percent of global emissions have been submitted, according to the Climate Action Tracker.

A summary of INDCs submitted to the UNFCCC is available here


  • There will be a 13.6% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to a business as usual (BAU) 2030 scenario, conditional on external support.


  • Angola plans to reduce GHG emissions up to 35% unconditionally by 2030 as compared to the BAU scenario (base year 2005). 
  • In addition, it is expected that through a conditional mitigation scenario the country could reduce an additional 15% below BAU emission levels by 2030. 
  • In achieving its unconditional and conditional targets Angola expects to reduce its emissions trajectory by nearly 50% below the BAU scenario by 2030 at overall cost of over USD 14.7 billion.


  • Argentina proposes a goal to reduce year 2030 GHG emissions by 15% with respect to projected BAU emissions for that year.  
  • Argentina could increase its reduction goal to 30% GHG emissions by 2030 compared to projected emissions in the BAU the same year, with international support. [C2ES Translation]


  • Commits to reduce CO2 emissions compared  to the baseline scenario in the period of 2016 and 2030 by 11.5 %.


  • Reducing GHG emissions by 7-22% by 2030, compared to a reference scenario (business as usual – BAU), subject to external financial support, technology transfer and development, and capacity building.  The 7% GHG reduction will be realized by national means. [C2ES Translation]


  • A reduction of 37 percent in annual emissions below business as usual levels, as defined in Andorra’s first biennial report to the UNFCCC, by 2030.
  • No contribution from international credits. [C2ES Translation]

Antigua And Barbuda:

  • Unconditional commitments to enhance the established enabling legal, policy and institutional environment for a low carbon emission development pathway to achieve poverty reduction and sustainable development; and, by 2020, to update the Building Code to meet projected impacts of climate change.


  • The Republic of Armenia strives to achieve ecosystem neutral GHG emissions in 2050 (2.07 tons/per capita annual) with the support of adequate (necessary and sufficient) international financial, technological and capacity building assistance.
  • In case of non-exceeding its total emissions quota (633 million tons) set for the period of 2015-2050 Armenia can credit non-utilized reduction to ‘carbon market’, or transfer it to the balance of emissions limitation envisaged for the period of 2050-2100.


  • Australia will implement an economy-wide target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Australia reserves the right to adjust our target and its parameters before it is finalized under a new global agreement should the rules and other underpinning arrangements of the agreement differ in a way that materially impacts the definition of our target.


  • By 2030 the Republic of Azerbaijan targets 35% reduction in the level of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990/base year as its contribution to the global climate change efforts. 


  • A target to achieve a minimum of 30% renewables in the energy mix by 2030 and will allow for a 10% Residential Energy Self Generation Programme within the year; establishment of a permanent forest estate.


  • An unconditional contribution to reduce GHG emissions by 5% from Business as Usual (BAU) levels by 2030 in the power, transport and industry sectors, based on existing resources.


  • Belarus commits to reducing GHG emissions 28% below 1990 levels, excluding LULUCF.


  • A series of policies and measures in the energy, transport and LULUCF sectors, dependent upon cost effective technology, capacity building and adequate financial support.
  • Belize intends to provide information on adaptation at a later stage.


  • The impacts of [emission reduction] efforts are estimated at 120 MtCO2e avoided emissions and sequestering 163 MtCO2e from 2020 to 2030.  Carbon sequestration, through national efforts at reforestation and planting, constitutes the unconditional contribution of the Republic of Benin. 
  • In order to achieve its goals in GHG mitigation and adaptation to the effects of climate change will need an overall budget of 30 billion USD as a contribution to the government of Benin for the period 2016 to 2030. [C2ES Translation]


  • Bhutan intends to remain carbon neutral where emission of greenhouse gases will not exceed carbon sequestration by our forests, which is estimated at 6.3 million tons of CO2.


  • A series of sectoral policies and measures for 2015-2020 and 2021-2030, including additional achievements in those sectors conditional on support from developed countries.


  • Intends to achieve an overall emissions reduction of 15% by 2030, taking 2010 as the base year.
  • Botswana will use market mechanisms under the convention.

Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  • Unconditional contribution is an emission reduction compared to the BAU scenario, of 2% by 2030.
  • Provided that Bosnia-Herzegovina is granted access to international development / financial mechanisms and that the relevant institutions are willing to absorb and cost-effectively use international mechanisms for the above mitigation activities, it will be possible to reduce emissions by approximately 23% in 2030 relative to the baseline scenario.


  • Brazil intends to commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37% below 2005 levels in 2025.
  • Subsequent indicative contribution: reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels in 2030.
  • Brazil’s INDC corresponds to an estimated reduction of 66% in terms of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP (emissions intensity5) in 2025 and of 75% in terms of emissions intensity in 2030, both in relation to 2005.


  • Energy sector: to reduce total energy consumption by 63% by 2035 compared to a Business-As Usual (BAU) scenario; and to increase the share of renewables so that 10% of the total power generation is sourced from renewable energy by 2035 
  • Land Transport sector: to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from morning peak hour vehicle use by 40% by 2035 compared to a business as usual scenario. 
  • Forestry sector: to increase the total gazette forest reserves to 55% of total land area, compared to the current levels of 41%.

Burkina Faso:

  • Unconditional commitment to reduce emissions by 6.6 percent by 2030 from BAU levels
  • A conditional 18.2 percent reduction from BAU levels by 2030


  • Unconditional contribution of 3% reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases compared to 2005 (BAU) by 2030.  
  • Conditional contribution of 20% reduction of emissions compared to 2005 BAU by 2030. [C2ES Translation]


  • Cambodia intends to undertake unconditional actions in various sectors, the impact of which is expected to be a maximum reduction of 3,100 Gg CO2eq compared to baseline emissions of 11,600 Gg CO2eq by 2030.  
  • Cambodia intends to undertake voluntary and conditional actions to achieve the target of increasing forest cover to 60% of national land area by 2030.


  • Reducing GHG emissions by 32% compared to a scenario reference for the target year (2035), and conditioned to community support international form of financing, share of capacity enhancements and technology transfer. [C2ES Translation]


  • Canada intends to achieve an economy-wide target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Reaching this ambitious target will require new policies in additional sectors and coordinated continental action in integrated sectors.
  • Canada may also use international mechanisms to achieve the target, subject to robust systems that deliver real and verified emissions reductions.

Central African Republic:

  • Reduce emissions by 5% compared to the BAU reference level (i.e. 5,498.3 kt eq-CO2 of avoided emissions) at the 2030 horizon and 25% (i.e. 33,076.1 kt eq-CO2) at the 2050 horizon, within the framework of conditional implementation. [C2ES Translation]


  • Unconditional reduction of 18.2% of the country's emissions compared to the baseline in 2030.
  • The conditional reduction is 71% of the country's emissions by 2030.


  • An unconditional commitment from 30 percent below 2007 levels by 2030, in terms of carbon intensity
  • An additional conditional carbon intensity goal of 35 to 45 percent below 2007 levels by 2030


Based on its national circumstances, development stage, sustainable development strategy and international responsibility, China has nationally determined its actions by 2030 as follows:

  • To achieve the peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and making best efforts to peak early;
  • To lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% from the 2005 level;
  • To increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20%; and
  • To increase the forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic meters on the 2005 level.
  • See the C2ES Fact Sheet: China's Contribution to the Paris Climate Agreement.


  • The Republic of Colombia commits to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% with respect to the projected Business-as-Usual Scenario (BAU) by 2030.
  • Subject to the provision of international support, Colombia could increase its ambition from 20% reduction with respect to BAU to 30% with respect to BAU by 2030.


  •  Conditional contribution of at least 48% reduction in emissions compared to BAU in 2025 and 55% in 2035. [C2ES Translation]

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC):

  • A reduction of 17 percent below 2000 levels by 2030. This contribution is conditional on the provision of finance equaling US$12.5 billion for mitigation and US$9.1 billion for adaptation. [C2ES Translation]

Cook Islands:

  • Unconditional: The Cook Islands is committed to a future powered by renewable energy with a targets of 100% of islands transformed from diesel based to renewable sourced electricity by 2020.  Emissions from electricity generation will be reduced 38% below 2006 levels by 2020.
  • Conditional: The Cook Islands will pursue value added activities, which would reduce emissions from electricity generation by a further 43%, totaling an 81% emissions reduction by 2030 (relative to 2006). This further reduction is conditional on receiving external support.


  • The Union of Comoros is committed to reducing its emissions of greenhouse gas by 84% by 2030 compared to emissions in the baseline scenario of the same year.
  • This reduction includes removals sector Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) as well.
  • Comoros has the support of the international contribution to up to US $ 375 million to achieve this objective through the Green Climate Fund and other existing or future financing mechanisms. [C2ES Translation]


  •  Conditional contribution of at least 48% reduction in emissions compared to BAU in 2025 and 55% in 2035. [C2ES Translation]

Côte d’Ivoire:

  • An unconditional commitment to Reduce cumulative GHG emissions by 28% below BAU levels by 2030.
  • An additional reduction of 8% (total reduction of GHG emissions by 36% below BAU levels by 2030) is conditional on international support. [C2ES translation]


  • Policies and projects prioritizing the energy and agricultural sectors to 2030.  Depending on the outcome of the negotiations, Cuba will study the possibility of communicating indicative targets in other interim periods. The implementation of the actions identified require international support. [C2ES Translation]


  • Dominica commits to progressively reduce total gross greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below 2014 levels at the following reduction rates: 17.9% by 2020; 39.2% by 2025; and 44.7% by 2030.  
  • This contribution is conditional upon receiving timely access to international climate change financing, technology development and transfer, and capacity building support for priority adaptation and mitigation measures.


  • With unconditional measures, the Republic of Djibouti agrees to avoid future emissions of 1.8 MtCO2e of GHG reducing its emissions by 40% compared to baseline.
  • The implementation of conditional measures will allow a further reduction of 0.9MtCO2e, or 20% of GHG emissions in 2030 compared to the baseline. The conditional mitigation scenario and allow the Republic of Djibouti to maintain its amount of emissions to a level equivalent to that of 2010. [C2ES Translation]

Dominican Republic:

  • A reduction of 25 percent below 2010 levels by 2030. This reduction is conditional upon favorable and predictable support, feasible climate finance mechanisms, and corrections to the failures of existing market mechanisms.


  • Ecuador aims to reduce its emissions in the energy sector in 20.4 to 25% relative to BAU.
  • However, Ecuador could increase emission reductions in the energy sector to 37.5 to 45.8% relative to BAU, dependent upon international support. [C2ES Translation]


  • Egypt is setting the foundation for low carbon energy systems through pathways to achieve high CO2 mitigation levels via: 1) diffusion of locally-appropriate low-carbon energy production technologies to reduce energy intensity; 2) mitigation efforts covering all major sources of emissions; and 3) locally appropriate technology transfer and financial flow from industrialized countries to support carbon emission abatement.

El Salvador:

  • Establish a framework of legislation and institutional arrangements to guide economic and social development towards low emissions and adaptation to climate change, with some quantitative targets by 2025 and 2030 in specific sectors. [C2ES Translation]

Equatorial Guinea:

  • Equatorial Guinea's ambition is to reduce emissions 20% by 2030, relative to 2010 levels; to achieve a reduction of 50% by 2050.
  • This is conditional on the support that is favorable, predictable and that climate financing mechanisms become viable and distortions of the existing market mechanisms are corrected. [C2ES Translation]


  • The government of the State of Eritrea is committed to reduce the CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 23.1% in 2020, 30.2 % by 2025 and 39.2% by 2030 visa-vis 2010 levels.
  • If additional support is solicited, it can be further reduced by 36.4 % in 2020, 61.1% by 2015 and 80.6% by 2030.

European Union:

  • A binding target of an at least 40 percent domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. compared to 1990 to be fulfilled jointly, as set out in the conclusions by the European Council of October 2014.


  • A reduction of 255 MtCO2e, or 64% below business as usual (BAU) emissions by 2030
  • In the long term, Ethiopia intends to achieve its vision of becoming carbon-neutral, with the mid-term goal of attaining middle-income status.


  • At least 50 percent reduction in emissions from a BAU scenario, excluding the forest biomass sector [C2ES Translation]


  • Excluding LULUCF and for Low Emissions Scenario, emissions will be reduced by about 44.4% in 2025 and 45.4% in 2030.
  • Two unconditional mitigation options in its INDC: Firstly, the use of renewable energy sources in lighting, communication and health facilities, and for lifting water from wells and boreholes. Secondly, the Department of Forestry and local communities will continue to plant and care for trees annually.


  • Georgia plans to unconditionally reduce its GHG emissions by 15% below the Business as usual scenario (BAU) for the year 2030.
  • The 15% reduction target will be increased up to 25% in a conditional manner, subject to a global agreement addressing the importance of technical cooperation, access to low-cost financial resources and technology transfer.


  • Ghana’s emission reduction goal is to unconditionally lower its GHG emissions by 15 percent relative to a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario emission of 73.95MtCO2e 2 by 2030.
  • An additional 30 percent emission reduction is attainable on condition that external support is made available to Ghana to cover the full cost of implementing the mitigation action
  • With this external support, a total emission reduction of 45% below the BUA emission levels can be achieved by 2030.


  • Reduce by 13 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2030 as compared to 1994 levels.


  • Grenada commits to reducing its Greenhouse gas emissions by 30% of 2010 by 2025, with an indicative reduction of 40% of 2010 by 2030.


  • Guatemala plans to achieve a reduction of 11.2% of total GHG emissions in the base year 2005 projected to 2030 [C2ES Translation]


  • Establish and schedule a new forestry policy, conduct studies on the energy potential of the country and establish a legal framework through a national strategy for long-term low-carbon development.  
  • Meeting the recommended goal requires an overall investment not inferior to 200 million USD by 2020 and 500 million between 2020 and 2030 of foreign aid [C2ES Translation]


  • Guyana proposes policies, measures and actions, both conditional and conditional
  • There are unconditional and conditional proposals for the forestry and energy sectors.


  • Unconditional contribution of 5% emissions reductions by 2030 relative to 2000.  
  • Conditional contribution of 26% emissions reductions by 2030 relative to 2000. [C2ES Translation]


  • 15% reduction in emissions compared to BAU 2030 for all sectors contained in this BAU scenario.
  • This commitment is conditional upon favorable, predictable support and if a climate financing mechanisms is made viable.
  • Additionally, the Republic of Honduras is committed, as a sectoral target, afforestation / reforestation of 1 million hectares of forest by 2030. [C2ES Translation]


  • Iceland aims to be part of a collective delivery by European countries to reach a target of 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
  • A precise commitment for Iceland within such collective delivery has yet to be determined, and is dependent on an agreement with the European Union and its Member States and possibly other countries.
  • In the event that an agreement on collective delivery is not reached, Iceland will determine a national target by other methods and communicate it to the UNFCCC.


  • To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level.
  • To achieve about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030, with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance including from Green Climate Fund (GCF).
  • To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.


  • Unconditional reduction of 29% of GHGs against a BAU scenario by 2030.
  • An additional 12% reduction is conditional on technology transfer, capacity building, results for payment, and access to finance.


  • Unconditional target of reducing GHGs emission in 2030 by 4% compared to the Business As Usual (BAU) scenario.
  • Conditional target is to mitigate additional GHGs emission up to 8% against the BAU scenario (i.e. 12% in total).


  • Israel intends to achieve an economy-wide unconditional target of reducing its per capita greenhouse gas emissions to 7.7 tCO2e by 2030 which constitutes a reduction of 26% below the level in 2005 of 10.4 tCO2e per capita. An interim target of 8.8 tCO2e per capita is expected by 2025. 

Kyrgyz Republic:

  • Kyrgyz Republic will reduce GHG emissions in the range of 11.49 - 13.75% below BAU in 2030. Additionally, with international support Kyrgyz Republic could implement the mitigation measures to achieve total reduction in the range of 29.00 - 30.89% below BAU in 2030.
  • Kyrgyz Republic will reduce GHG emissions in the range of 12.67 - 15.69% below BAU in 2050. Additionally, with international support Kyrgyz Republic could implement the mitigation measures to achieve total reduction in the range of 35.06 - 36.75% below BAU in 2050.


  • Jamaica’s intended nationally determined contribution will mitigate the equivalent of 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030 versus the BAU scenario. This is a reduction of 7.8% of emissions versus BAU.  
  • Jamaica will conditionally increase its ambition to a reduction of GHG emissions of 10% below the BAU scenario, subject to the provision of international support.


  • Japan’s INDC towards post-2020 GHG emission reductions is at the level of a reduction of 26.0% by fiscal year (FY) 2030 compared to FY 2013 (25.4% reduction compared to FY 2005) (approximately 1.042 billion t-CO2 eq. as 2030 emissions)
  • Removals by LULUCF sector are accounted in line with approaches equivalent to those under the Kyoto Protocol.
  • The Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) is not included as a basis of the bottom-up calculation of Japan’s emission reduction target, but the amount of emission reductions and removals acquired by Japan under the JCM will be appropriately counted as Japan’s reduction.


  • This contribution of GHGs reduction will be unconditionally fulfilled to 1.5 % compared to a business as usual scenario level.
  • However, Jordan, conditionally and subject to availability of international financial aid and support to means of implementation, commits to reduce its GHGs emissions at least an additional 12.5 % by 2030.


  • Unconditional target: A 15% reduction in GHG emissions by 31 December 2030 compared to the base year
  • Conditional target: A 25% reduction in GHG emissions by 31 December 2030 compared to the base year, subject to additional international investments, access to low carbon technologies transfer mechanism, green climate funds and flexible mechanism for country with economy in transition.


  • Kiribati commits to reduce emissions by: 13.7% by 2025 and 12.8% by 2030 compared to a BaU projection.

Republic of Korea:

  • Korea plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 37% from the business-as-usual (BAU, 850.6 MtCO2eq) level by 2030 across all economic sectors.
  • Korea will partly use carbon credits from international market mechanisms to achieve its 2030 mitigation target, in accordance with relevant rules and standards.


  • Kenya seeks to abate its GHG emissions by 30% by 2030 relative to the BAU scenario of 143 MtCO2eq; and in line with its sustainable development agenda.
  • This is also subject to international support in the form of finance, investment, technology development and transfer, and capacity building.

Lao (People’s Democratic Republic):

  • A list of reforestation, RE, rural electrification, transportation NAMAs, and hydroelectricity plans and actions to be implemented, subject to the provision of international support.


  • An unconditional contribution of 15 percent GHG emission compared to the BAU scenario in 2030.  
  • Conditional contribution of 30 percent GHG emission reduction compared to the BAU scenario in 2030.


  • Liechtenstein aims at a reduction of greenhouse gases by 40 % compared to 1990 by 2030.
  • The assumptions underlying Liechtenstein’s INDC are based on the possibility to achieve emission reductions abroad which may be accounted towards
  • Liechtenstein’s reduction target in 2030.2 However, primary focus will be given on domestic emission reductions.
  • The reduction target will be subject to the approval of the Liechtenstein Parliament.


  • Lesotho is committed to reduce unconditionally 10% of its GHG emissions by 2030 compared to a Business-as-usual (BAU) scenario.
  • A conditional target is set at 35% below BAU levels by 2030.


  • Target is to reduce GHGs by at least 10% by 2030 from BAU levels.  The long-term strategy of Liberia is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.  
  • Total GHG emissions can be reduced using all strategies from BAU trajectory by 15% in 2030.  
  • The implementation of the mitigation interventions will require availability of financial resources, technology development and transfer, and capacity building from the international community.


  • In 2030, Madagascar aims to reduce approximately 30 MtCO2 of its emissions of GHG, representing 14% of national emissions, compared to the BAU scenario, with projections based of GHG inventory from year 2000 to 2010.
  • Total increase in GHG absorption is expected at 32%, compared to the BAU scenario.
  • However, these objectives remain conditioned by financial support, which will be received from global partners (conditional contributions).


  • Malawi's targets reflect a consolidation and expansion of various climate change related initiatives that have been derived from policies, programmes, and projects.
  • Some are unconditional, whereas others are conditional on international support.


  • reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity of GDP by 45% by 2030 relative to the emissions intensity of GDP in 2005. This consist of 35% on an unconditional basis.
  • A further 10% is condition upon receipt of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building from developed countries.


  • Maldives intends to take actions and undertakings to reduce unconditionally 10% of its GHG emissions (under a BAU) by the year 2030.
  • These actions and undertakings could be scaled-up to 24% in a conditional manner, in the context of sustainable development, supported and enabled by availability of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building.


  • Mali sets sector-by-sector targets versus a BAU scenario of 29 percent (agriculture), 31 percent (energy) and 21 percent (forestry) by 2030.


  • The Islamic Republic of Mauritania intends to contribute to the Paris climate agreement by reducing greenhouse gas emissions expected in 2030 by 22.3% compared to Business As Usual (BAU).
  • -12% of this potential emission reductions can be achieved by the means of Mauritania (unconditional share of contribution.)
  • 88% of the contribution, corresponding to the share of emissions reduction conditional on international support (conditional share of contribution.) [C2ES Translation]


  • The Republic of Mauritius imperatively needs international technical and financial support to enable it to abate its greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, by the year 2030, relative to the business as usual scenario.

Marshall Islands:

  • Marshall Islands commits to a quantified economy-wide target to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) to 32% below 2010 levels by 2025.
  • Marshall Islands communicates, as an indicative target, its intention to reduce its emissions of GHGs to 45% below 2010 levels by 2030.


  • Implementation of various policies and program actions.  Estimation of total reduction of about 76,5 MtCO2eq in the period from 2020 to 2030, with 23,0 MtCO2eq by 2024 and 53,4 MtCO2eq from 2025 to 2030.
  • Mozambique is willing to participate in the market mechanisms to be established.


  • Mexico is committed to reduce unconditionally 25% of its Greenhouse Gases and Short Lived Climate Pollutants emissions (below BAU) for the year 2030. This commitment implies a reduction of 22% of GHG and a reduction of 51% of Black Carbon. 
  • This commitment implies a net emissions peak starting from 2026, decoupling GHG emissions from economic growth: emissions intensity per unit of GDP will reduce by around 40% from 2013 to 2030. 
  • The 25% reduction commitment expressed above could increase up to a 40% in a conditional manner, subject to a global agreement addressing important topics including international carbon price, carbon border adjustments, technical cooperation, access to low-cost financial resources and technology transfer, all at a scale commensurate to the challenge of global climate change.  
  • Within the same conditions, GHG reductions could increase up to 36%, and Black Carbon reductions to 70% in 2030.


  • The Republic of Moldova intends to achieve an economy-wide unconditional target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 64-67 per cent below its 1990 level in 2030 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 67 per cent.
  • The reduction commitment expressed above could be increased up to 78 per cent below 1990 level conditional to, a global agreement addressing important topics including low-cost financial resources, technology transfer, and technical cooperation.


  • An unconditional target of a 13 % reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to a business as usual (BAU) scenario.
  • Conditionally, Morocco can achieve additional 19 % reduction achievable under certain conditions, which would bring the total GHG reduction to 32 % below BAU emission levels by 2030.
  • The conditional target requires an overall investment estimated at USD 45 billion between 2015 and 2030, of which 35 USD billion is conditional upon:
    • Access to new sources of finance and enhanced support, compared to that received over the past years, to be mobilized through new climate finance mechanisms, such as the Green Climate Fund;
    • The conclusion of a legally-binding agreement under the auspices of the UNFCCC.


  • With a view to the adoption of a legally binding agreement in Paris in December 2015, the Principality of Monaco wishes to contribute to the collective effort by adopting an objective 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to the base year 1990.
  • The commitment can be viewed as a ten year-target, or two successive five year periods. The interim target is 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2025. [C2ES translation]


  • The expected mitigation impact of these policies and measures will be a 14% reduction in total national GHG emissions excluding Land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) by 2030, compared to the projected emissions under a business as usual scenario.


  • Montenegro’s contribution to the international effort to avoid dangerous climate change is expressed in 30 % emission reduction by 2030 compared to the 1990 base year.


  • Provided a list of policy actions in the energy and forestry sectors.
  • The information required to estimate GHG emissions was collected and an estimate produced. However, given the deadline and the current available data, it was decided not to include the estimate in the INDC, as deemed not sufficiently reliable.
  • Further analysis to quantify the GHG emission will be conducted as a result of the actions and strategies.


  • Unconditional contribution includes a secured funding of US$5 million for implementation of a 0.6 MW solar PV system
  • Conditional on external support, Nauru will replace a substantial part of electricity generation with the existing diesel operated plants with a large scale grid connected solar photovoltaic (PV) system with an estimated cost of US$ 42 million.


  • By 2050, Nepal will achieve 80% electrification through renewable energy sources having appropriate energy mix. Nepal will also reduce its dependency on fossil fuels by 50%.
  • Achievement of the following targets through its National Rural and Renewable Energy Programme (NRREP)
  • Maintaining 40% of the total area of the country under forest cover and forest productivity;
  • By 2025, Nepal will strive to decrease the rate of air pollution through proper monitoring of sources of air pollutants like wastes, old and unmaintained vehicles, and industries.

New Zealand:

  • New Zealand commits to reduce GHG emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • New Zealand’s INDC will remain provisional pending confirmation of the approaches to be taken in accounting for the land sector, and confirmation of access to carbon markets. New Zealand will participate actively in discussions on the land sector with our negotiating partners, both in the lead-up to and after COP 21, and will confirm details of the accounting approach we will take prior to or upon ratification of the Paris agreement.
  • In order to achieve domestic reductions and to do so at an affordable cost, we have identified a need for cost-effective mitigation technology, and in particular that our continuing investment in agricultural research delivers results that can be commercialized within the time period covered by this contribution.


  • Unconditional reduction of 2.5% (BAU 2020) and 3.5% (2030).  Conditional Reduction of 25% (BAU 2020) and 34.6% (2030, about GgCO2Eq 33.400). [C2ES Translation]


  • An unconditional contribution to reduce emissions 20 percent below BAU projections by 2030
  • Conditional on external support, Nigeria will reduce emissions 45 percent below BAU projections by 2030.


  • Unconditionally, Niue will achieve a 38% share of renewable energy of total electricity generation by 2020.  
  • Conditional on support, Niue could increase its contribution to an 80% share of renewable energy of total electricity generation, or to even higher levels, by 2025.


  • Norway is committed to a target of an at least 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The emission reduction target will be developed into an emissions budget covering the period 2021-2030. 
  • Norway intends to fulfil this commitment through a collective delivery with the EU and its Member States.  
  • In the event that there is no agreement on a collective delivery with the EU, Norway will fulfil the commitment individually. The ambition level will remain the same in this event.


  • Oman will control its expected GHG emissions growth by 2% to be 88714 Gg during the period from 2020 - 2030


  • Pakistan is committed to reduce its emissions after reaching peak levels to the extent possible subject to affordability, provision of international climate finance, transfer of technology and capacity building.  As such Pakistan will only be able to make specific commitments once reliable data on our peak emission levels is available.


  • Energy sector specific targets of 22% energy sector emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2025, a 45% Renewable Energy target by 2025 and a 35% Energy Efficiency target by 2025.


  • Unilateral Target of 10% reduction of projected emissions by 2030.
  • Conditional Target of 20% reduction of projected emissions by 2030.

Papua New Guinea:

  • The main mitigation contribution for PNG would be in terms of an indicative replacement of fossil fuelled electricity generation with renewable energy sources.
  • This could be accomplished at a rate determined by the availability of external funding.


  • The Peruvian INDC envisages a reduction of emissions equivalent to 30% in relation to the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions of the projected Business as Usual scenario (BAU) in 2030.
  • The Peruvian State considers that a 20% reduction will be implemented through domestic investment and expenses, from public and private resources (non-conditional proposal), and the remaining 10% is subject to the availability of international financing1 and the existence of favorable conditions (conditional proposal).


  • The Philippines intends to undertake GHG (CO2e) emissions reduction of about 70% by 2030 relative to its BAU scenario of 2000-2030, conditional on the extent of financial resources, including technology development & transfer, and capacity building, that will be made available to the Philippines.


  • Economic diversification and adaptation actions with mitigation co-benefits to be undertaken from 2021 to 2030.


  • Limiting anthropogenic greenhouse gases in Russia to 70-75% of 1990 levels by the year 2030 might be a long-term indicator, subject to the maximum possible account of absorbing capacity of forests.


  • Samoa is committed to reducing its GHG emissions from the Electricity sub sector through the adoption of a 100% Renewable energy target for electricity generation through to the year 2025.

San Marino:

  • San Marino intends to reduce emissions 25 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Sao Tome and Principe:

  • STP would conditionally be able to contribute to the reduction of Greenhouse Gases by about 57 ktCO2eq, which approximately corresponds to a 24% national emission reduction by 2030 related to 2005.


  • Under the unconditional INDC emission reductions relative to their projected path are 3%, 4% and 5% respectively in 2020, 2025 and 2030.
  • With the conditional INDC, reductions of expected emission are of the order of 7%, 15% and 21% over the same years. [C2ES Translation]


  • Reduce emissions 9.8 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.


  • The Republic of Seychelles will reduce its economy-wide absolute GHG emissions by 122.5 ktCO2e (21.4%) in 2025 and estimated 188 ktCO2e in 2030 (29.0%) relative to baseline emissions.

Sierra Leone:

  • Intends to maintain the emission levels of Sierra Leone relatively low close to the world average of 7.58 MtCO2e) by 2035 or neutral by 2050 by reducing her carbon footprint and by following green growth pathways in all economic sectors. 

Solomon Islands:

  • 12% below 2015 level by 2025 and 30% below 2015 level by 2030 compared to a BaU projection.
  • Solomon Islands can conditionally contribute a further: 27% reduction in GHG emissions by 2025; and 45% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, compared to a BaU projection.
  • With appropriate international assistance, Solomon Islands can reduce its emissions by more than 50% by 2050.


  • Policy, plans and mitigation and adaptation projects related to land use, water, increasing resilience, renewable energy, and coastal resource management.

South Africa:

  • South Africa’s mitigation component of its INDC moves from a “deviation from business-as-usual” form of commitment and takes the form of a peak, plateau and decline GHG emissions trajectory range. South Africa’s emissions by 2025 and 2030 will be in a range between 398 and 614 Mt CO2e, as defined in national policy.
  • South Africa will use five-year periods of implementation at the national level, specifically, 2016-2020 focused on developing and demonstrating the above mix of policies and measures in order to meet South Africa’s Cancun pledge, and the periods 2021-2025 and 2026-2030 for this INDC. This level of effort will enable South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions to peak between 2020 and 2025, plateau for approximately a decade and decline in absolute terms thereafter.

South Sudan:

  • South Sudan aims to undertake the policies and actions in following sectors: energy generation and use; Land Use and Land Use Change; and Transport, to address its future emissions that are likely to result from growth strategies. These efforts are contingent on availability of technical assistance to develop the necessary regulations, policies, and standards as well as financial support for investing in low carbon options.


  • Singapore communicates that it intends to reduce its Emissions Intensity by 36% from 2005 levels by 2030, and stabilize its emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030.
  • Singapore intends to achieve the mitigation objectives under its INDC through domestic efforts, but will continue to study the potential of international market mechanisms.

Sri Lanka:  

  • Greenhouse gas emissions cut of 7 percent from business as usual by 2030, or up to 23 percent with international support.

St. Kitts and Nevis:

  • An emissions reduction target of 22% and 35% of St. Kitts and Nevis GHG emissions projected in the business as usual (BAU) scenario for 2025 and 2030 respectively.
  • St. Kitts and Nevis supports the inclusion of the International Carbon Markets and any other Market Mechanisms in a post-2020 agreement on climate change and any future emission reductions pre-2020, should be accounted as part of our contributions.

St. Lucia:

  • 16% reduction measured against BAU projection for 2025 (reduction of 121 GgCO2-eq); 23% reduction measured against BAU projection for 2030 (188 GgCO2-eq), which is conditional.
  • National level market-based instruments, such as cap-and-trade emission trading schemes and offsetting, are crucial to price carbon emissions and keep the costs of mitigation in Saint Lucia low.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines:

  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines intends to achieve an unconditional, economy-wide reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 22% compared to its business as usual (BAU) scenario by 2025.
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines supports the inclusion of the International Carbon Markets and mechanisms such as the CDM in a post-2020 agreement on climate change including the use of the mitigation outcome pre-2020.
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines considers that certain low emission development options mentioned in this INDC, or additional actions, could be entirely or partially funded by international carbon markets.


  • Mitigation efforts will be made in the energy sector by the use of renewable energy sources. With regard to the low lying coastal zone, mitigation actions are concentrated on its conservation and sustainable use.


  • Mitigation actions, including: 1) Developing a robust national GHG inventory, a credible and a comprehensive MRV system. 2) Doubling the share of RE in the national energy mix.  3) Introducing the use of a 10% ethanol blend in petrol for use in all vehicles. 4) Phasing out the use of HFCs, PFCs, and SF6 gases.
  • The implementation of Swaziland’s INDC is conditional upon appropriate support in the form of finance, technical assistance and capacity building.  Depending on the level of support received, Swaziland will update its INDC accordingly.


  • 50 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, corresponding to an average reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent over the period 2021-2030.
  • By 2025, a reduction of greenhouse gases by 35 percent compared to 1990 levels is anticipated.
  • Carbon credits from international mechanisms will partly be used.
  • The INDC is subject to approval by Parliament.


  • A flexible target, not exceeding 80-90% of the 1990 level by 2030, which amounts to 1.7-2.2 tons in CO2 equivalent per capita, has been determined as the country’s contribution to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission reductions.  
  • A conditional target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Republic of Tajikistan 65- 75% of the 1990 level by 2030, which amounts to 1.2-1.7 tons in CO2 equivalent per capita.


  • Tanzania will reduce greenhouse gas emissions economy wide between 10-20% by 2030 relative to the BAU scenario of 138 - 153 Million tones of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).


  • Thailand intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from the projected business-as-usual (BAU) level by 2030.
  • The level of contribution could increase up to 25 percent, subject to adequate and enhanced access to technology development and transfer, financial resources and capacity building support.
  • This target will only be achieved by Sierra Leone with the availability of international support This would require substantial donor support estimated to about $900 million.
  • Sierra Leone intends to also present an intensity based reduction target by 25 - 35 percent, by 2050 in phases (2020-2030, 2030-2050) compared to 1990, including the use of international credits.


  • Unconditional contribution of 11.14% reduction of emissions by 2030 below 2010 levels.  
  • Conditional contribution of 31.14% reduction by 2030 below 2010 levels. [C2ES Translation]


  • A series of sectoral commitments, including:  50% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020; 70% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2030; Improve Energy efficiency through reduction of electricity line losses to 9 percent by 2020 (from a baseline of 18 percent in 2010); to double the 2015 number of Marine Protected Areas by 2030; Sector Emission Reduction Targets: Transport, Agriculture, Environment Friendly Waste Management and Reforestation


  • Tunisia's unconditional contribution corresponds to a 13 per cent reduction in carbon intensity, with 2010 as the base year.
  • The conditional contribution allows for an additional decrease of 28 per cent in carbon intensity, with 2010 as the base year.


  • Up to 21 percent reduction in GHG emissions from the Business as Usual (BAU) level by 2030.  
  • Turkey aims to use carbon credits from international market mechanisms to achieve its 2030 mitigation target in a cost effective manner and in accordance with the relevant rules and standards.


  • Unconditional contribution to Stabilize or begin reducing GHG emissions by 2030.  
  • If financial and technological support is provided by developed countries, Turkmenistan could achieve zero growth in emissions and even reduce them up to 2030.


  • Tuvalu commits to reduction of emissions of green-house gases from the electricity generation (power) sector, by 100% - i.e almost zero emissions by 2025.  Tuvalu’s indicative quantified economy-wide target for a reduction in total emissions of GHGs from the entire energy sector to 60% below 2010 levels by 2025.

Trinidad & Tobago:

  • Trinidad and Tobago will commit to unconditionally reduce its public transportation emissions by 30 percent or one million, seven hundred thousand tonnes (1,700,000) CO2e compared to 2013 levels by December 31, 2030.
  • Conditional target: Trinidad and Tobago's aim is to achieve a reduction objective in overall emissions from the three sectors by 15 percent by 2030 from BAU, which in absolute terms is an equivalent of one hundred and three million tonnes (103,000,000) of CO2e.


  • Mitigation measures and activities to be accelerated between 2016 and 2030 that could result in approximately 22 percent reduction of overall national GHG emissions in 2030 compared to the BAU project of 77.3 MtCO2eq/year in 2030.


  • Ukraine’s emissions will not exceed 60% of 1990 GHG emissions level in 2030.
  • Ukraine will participate actively in the development of existing international market mechanisms and implementation of new ones.

United Arab Emirates:

  • UAE will pursue a portfolio of actions, including an increase of clean energy to 24% of the total energy mix by 2021.

United States:


  • A series of sectoral targets to achieve net CO2 removal by 2030; additional measures for other gases.
  • Uruguay will communicate its definitive Nationally Determined Contribution once the UNFCCC has set forth the rules to apply and implementation agreements have been finalized.


  • A 100% renewable energy target by 2030, which will reduce energy sector emissions 30 percent from BAU.


  • Unconditionally, a 1 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to a business as usual (BAU) scenario.
  • An additional 13 % reduction achievable under certain conditions, which would bring the total GHG reduction to 14 percent below BAU emission levels by 2030.


  • It is expected from this scenario that by the end of 2030, estimated 38,000 Gg CO2eq could be mitigated, compared to 20,000 Gg CO2eq under the domestic efforts with limited international support.
  • This translates into a reduction potential of 25% and 47% against 2010 as the base year for the domestic efforts with limited international support and domestic efforts with substantial international support respectively.


  • The Mitigation Contribution for Zimbabwe is set conditionally as 33% below the projected BAU energy emissions per capita by 2030


Bob Perciasepe on the Biennial Report on U.S. climate goals

Statement of Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

December 31, 2015

On the State Department's Second Biennial Report to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change estimating how existing and additional policy measures will help the U.S. toward its 2020 and 2025 targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

“The new U.S biennial report lays out a credible and commonsense pathway toward meeting the country’s greenhouse gas targets for 2020 and 2025. It shows how the combined efforts of governments at all levels, working closely with the private sector, can achieve our greenhouse gas goals while sustaining strong economic growth.

This report is an example the kind of transparency the new Paris Agreement is meant to deliver — countries laying out for all to see the policies through which they intend to meet the goals they’ve pledged to the international community. An important part of the task ahead is fleshing out the details of how the Paris Agreement will also hold countries accountable for progress in implementing those policies.”


Contact: Laura Rehrmann, or 703-516-0621

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address our climate and energy challenges. Learn more at

How the Paris Agreement will bring transparency to climate action

COP 21 in Paris (Image Courtesy UNFCCC Via Flickr).

A central issue in the Paris climate talks was strengthening “transparency” requirements to hold countries accountable for their commitments. This means closer scrutiny of steps taken by developing countries, in particular, and many are understandably nervous.

But in presentations in the sidelines of the negotiations, two developing countries – Singapore and Chile – said their early experiences with the existing transparency system were less onerous than they’d feared. Their key message: You learn by doing.

The existing transparency system, established in 2010 in Cancún, consists of two parallel processes: one for developed countries, and a less stringent one for developing countries. Under both processes, countries submit biennial reports describing the steps they’re taking to meet their emission goals. These reports are then considered by technical experts and by other parties.

The Paris Agreement calls for replacing these processes with a single system requiring all countries to work toward the same standards of transparency and accountability.

Although the agreement promises support to help developing countries build the capacity to meet these standards, many worry the new requirements will be burdensome. Others are wary of being judged harshly, particularly when they have had little experience closely tracking their emissions or undergoing international review.

So far under the current system, 16 developing countries have submitted biennial reports describing the efforts they are taking to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 

COP 21 Summary

Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached a landmark agreement on December 12 in Paris, charting a fundamentally new course in the two-decade-old global climate effort.
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Paris Climate Conference - COP 21

In a landmark agreement that charts a fundamentally new course in the two-decade-old global climate effort, governments meeting in Paris adopted a pragmatic deal that holds countries accountable and builds ambition over time.

The Paris Agreement

C2ES Resources

C2ES Events in Paris

December 3
Press Briefing with Bob Perciasepe and Elliot Diringer.
Watch video

December 4
The American Business Act on Climate Pledge
Leaders from the White House, C2ES and American corporations discuss how U.S. businesses are leading the way in climate action and investment.
Watch video

C2ES Blog Posts

Outcomes of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris

21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(COP 21)

November 30-December 12, 2015

Download the summary (PDF)

Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached a landmark agreement on December 12 in Paris, charting a fundamentally new course in the two-decade-old global climate effort.

Culminating a four-year negotiating round, the new treaty ends the strict differentiation between developed and developing countries that characterized earlier efforts, replacing it with a common framework that commits all countries to put forward their best efforts and to strengthen them in the years ahead. This includes, for the first time, requirements that all parties report regularly on their emissions and implementation efforts, and undergo international review.

The agreement and a companion decision by parties were the key outcomes of the conference, known as the 21st session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, or COP 21.  Together, the Paris Agreement and the accompanying COP decision:

  • Reaffirm the goal of limiting global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius, while urging efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees;
  • Establish binding commitments by all parties to make “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs), and to pursue domestic measures aimed at achieving them;
  • Commit all countries to report regularly on their emissions and “progress made in implementing and achieving” their NDCs, and to undergo international review;
  • Commit all countries to submit new NDCs every five years, with the clear expectation that they will “represent a progression” beyond previous ones;
  • Reaffirm the binding obligations of developed countries under the UNFCCC to support the efforts of developing countries, while for the first time encouraging voluntary contributions by developing countries too;
  • Extend the current goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year in support by 2020 through 2025, with a new, higher goal to be set for the period after 2025;
  • Extend a mechanism to address “loss and damage” resulting from climate change, which explicitly will not “involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation;”
  • Require parties engaging in international emissions trading to avoid “double counting;” and
  • Call for a new mechanism, similar to the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, enabling emission reductions in one country to be counted toward another country’s NDC.

The strong momentum toward an agreement that built over the preceding months was dramatically underscored on the opening day of the summit by the presence of 150 presidents and prime ministers, the largest ever single-day gathering of heads of state.   Impetus came also from a vast array of “non-state actors,” including governors, mayors and CEOs, and the launch in Paris of major initiatives like the Breakthrough Energy Coalition announced by Bill Gates and other billionaires.

Negotiations on many issues were hard-fought and, in typical COP fashion, progress through most of the conference was painstakingly slow.  But thanks to deft diplomacy by the French presidency, the summit was remarkably free of the kind of procedural showdowns that have marred previous COPs.  And though the conference ran 24 hours past the official deadline, as the final deal was gaveled through, one party after another declared that history had been made.

As French President Francois Hollande summed it up: “In Paris, there have been many revolutions over the centuries. Today it is the most beautiful and the most peaceful revolution that has just been accomplished – a revolution for climate change.”

Key steps remain.  Many operational details of the new framework were left to be decided by future COPs.  And the agreement will take effect only once enough countries have formally ratified it.

Following are background on the negotiations and further details of key outcomes:   

Context: The Evolving Climate Regime

The Paris Agreement marks the latest step in the evolution of the UN climate change regime, which originated in 1992 with the adoption of the Framework Convention.  The UNFCCC established a long-term objective, general principles, common and differentiated commitments, and a basic governance structure, including an annual COP.

In the years since, the regime has evolved in different directions.  The 1997 Kyoto Protocol took a more “top-down” but highly differentiated approach, establishing negotiated, binding emissions targets for developed countries, and no new commitments for developing countries.  Because the United States did not join, and some countries that did set no targets beyond 2012, the protocol now covers less than 15 percent of global emissions.

With the 2009 Copenhagen Accord and 2010 Cancún Agreements, parties established a parallel “bottom-up” framework, with countries undertaking national pledges for 2020 that represent political rather than legal commitments.  This approach attracted much wider participation, including, for the first time, specific mitigation pledges by developing countries.  However, countries’ pledges fell far short of the reductions needed to meet the goal set in Copenhagen and Cancún of keeping average warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The negotiations toward a Paris agreement were launched with the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action adopted at COP 17 in 2011.  The Durban Platform called for “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties,” to apply from 2020, but provided no further substantive guidance. 

COP 19 in Warsaw called on parties to submit “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) well before the Paris conference, signaling an important bottom-up feature of the emerging agreement.  Heading into Paris, more than 180 countries producing more than 90 percent of global emissions had submitted INDCs, a much broader response than many had anticipated.

The Paris Agreement

In broad structure, the Paris Agreement reflects a “hybrid” approach blending bottom-up flexibility, to achieve broad participation, with top-down rules, to promote accountability and ambition.

Legal Character

The Paris Agreement is a treaty under international law, but only certain provisions are legally binding. 

The issue of which provisions to make binding (expressed as “shall,” as opposed to “should”) was a central concern for many countries, in particular the United States, which wanted an agreement the president could accept without seeking congressional approval.  Meeting that test precluded binding emission targets and new binding financial commitments.  (For more on this issue, see “Legal Options for U.S. Acceptance of a New Climate Change Agreement.”)

A final step in Paris was negotiating a “technical correction” substituting “should” for "shall" in a provision calling on developed countries to undertake absolute economy-wide emissions targets.


A crosscutting issue was how to reflect the UNFCCC’s principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.”  On the whole, the Paris Agreement represents a fundamental shift away from the categorical binary approach of the Kyoto Protocol toward more nuanced forms of differentiation, reflected differently in different provisions.

The agreement includes references to developed and developing countries, stating in several places that the former should take the lead.  But it notably makes no mention of the Annex I (developed) and non-Annex I (developing) categories contained in the UNFCCC.

Many provisions establish common commitments while allowing flexibility to accommodate different national capacities and circumstances – either through self-differentiation, as implicit in the concept of nationally determined contributions, or through more detailed operational rules still to be developed.

Long-Term Goal

The agreement reaffirms the goal of keeping average warming below 2 degrees Celsius, while also urging parties to “pursue efforts” to limit it to 1.5 degrees, a top priority for developing countries highly vulnerable to climate impacts.


The Paris Agreement articulates two long-term emission goals: first, a peaking of emissions as soon as possible (with a recognition that it will take longer for developing countries); then, a goal of net greenhouse gas neutrality (expressed as “a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks”) in the second half of this century.  The latter was an alternative to terms like “decarbonization” and “climate neutrality” pushed by some parties.

With respect to countries’ individual mitigation efforts, the agreement prescribes a set of binding procedural commitments: to “prepare, communicate and maintain” an NDC; to provide information necessary for clarity and transparency; and to communicate a new NDC every five years.  It also sets the expectation that each successive NDC will “represent a progression” beyond the previous one and reflect a party’s “highest possible ambition.”

The agreement commits parties to “pursue domestic measures with the aim of achieving the objectives” of its NDC, but does not make the implementation or achievement of NDCs a binding obligation.  It also encourages, but does not require, countries to develop and communicate long-term low emission development strategies.

The core mitigation commitments are common to all parties, but there is some differentiation in the expectations set: developed countries “should” undertake absolute economy-wide reduction targets, while developing countries “are encouraged” to move toward economy-wide targets over time.  In addition, developing countries are to receive support to implement their commitments.

NDCs will be recorded in a public registry maintained by the UNFCCC secretariat, rather than in an annex to the agreement, as some countries had proposed. 

Carbon Markets

While avoiding any direct reference to the use of market-based approaches – a concession to a handful of countries that oppose them – the agreement recognizes that parties may use “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes” to implement their NDCs.

It requires that parties engaging in such transfers ensure the “avoidance of double counting,” consistent with accounting guidelines for NDCs to be developed.  The agreement also establishes a new mechanism to succeed the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, which generates tradable emission offsets.  Rules for the new mechanism are to be adopted at the first meeting of parties after the agreement takes force.

Stocktake/Successive NDCs

To promote rising ambition, the agreement establishes two linked processes, each on a five-year cycle.

The first process is a “global stocktake” to assess collective progress toward meeting the agreement’s long-term goals.  The first stocktake will take place in 2023.  The second process is the submission by parties of new NDCs, “informed by the outcomes of the global stocktake.” 

Because these processes technically begin only once the agreement takes force, the accompanying decision includes provisions to effectively jumpstart them in the interim. It establishes a “facilitative dialogue” in 2018 to take stock of collective progress.  And, by 2020, countries like the United States whose initial NDCs run through 2025 are “urged” to communicate “new” NDCs, while those whose initial NDCs run through 2030 are “requested” to “communicate or update” theirs.


The Paris Agreement rests heavily on transparency as a means of holding countries accountable.  In another move beyond bifurcation, it establishes a new transparency system with common binding commitments for all parties and “built-in flexibility” to accommodate varying national capacities. 

All countries are required to submit emissions inventories and the “information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving” their NDCs. The COP decision says that, with the exception of least developed and small island countries, these reports are to be submitted at least every two years.  In addition, developed countries “shall” report on support provided; developing countries “should” report on support received; and all “should” report on their adaptation efforts.

Information reported by countries on mitigation and support will undergo “expert technical review,” and each party must participate in “a facilitative, multilateral consideration of progress” in implementing and achieving its NDC (a form of peer review).

Developing countries are promised capacity-building support to help them meet the new transparency requirements.  The COP decision says they will be given flexibility in the scope, frequency and detail of their reporting, and in the scope of review.  Details of the new transparency system are to be negotiated by 2018 and formally adopted once the agreement enters into force.


The agreement establishes a new mechanism to “facilitate implementation” and “promote compliance.” The mechanism – a committee of experts – is to be “facilitative” in nature and operate in a “non-adversarial and non-punitive” manner.  It will report annually to the COP.  Details are to be decided at the first meeting of parties after the agreement takes force.


As at past COPs, finance was a contentious issue in Paris, with poorer developing countries seeking stronger assurances that support will be scaled up, and developed countries pushing for wealthier developing countries to contribute as well.

Both succeeded to some degree.  The agreement commits developed countries to provide finance for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries (“in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention,” a stipulation sought by the United States so the agreement would not create new binding financial commitments requiring congressional approval).  “Other” parties are “encouraged” to provide such support “voluntarily.”

Other major issues included whether to set a new finance mobilization goal beyond the $100 billion a year in public and private resources already promised by developed countries, and whether to establish a process to revisit the question every five years.  The COP decision extends the $100 billion-a-year goal through 2025, and beyond that, says only that by 2025 the COP will set a “new collective quantified goal from a floor of” $100 billion a year.

In addition to reporting on finance already provided and received, developed countries commit to submit every two years “indicative quantitative and qualitative information” on future support, including, “as available,” projected levels of public finance; and other countries are encouraged to do so voluntarily.  Finance will also be considered in the global stocktake.


A major priority for many developing countries was strengthening adaptation efforts under the UNFCCC.  The agreement does that by:

  • Establishing a global goal of “enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change;”
  • Requiring all parties, “as appropriate,” to plan and implement adaptation efforts;
  • Encouraging all parties to report on their adaptation efforts and/or needs;
  • Committing enhanced adaptation support for developing countries; and
  • Including a review of adaptation progress, and of the adequacy and effectiveness of adaptation support, in the global stocktake to be undertaken every five years.

Loss and Damage

In a victory for small island countries and other countries highly vulnerable to climate impacts, the agreement includes a free-standing provision extending the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage.

The mechanism, established as an interim body at COP 19, is charged with developing approaches to help vulnerable countries cope with unavoidable impacts, including extreme weather events and slow-onset events such as sea-level rise.  Potential approaches include early warning systems and risk insurance.

At the insistence of developed countries, led by the United States, the accompanying COP decision specifies that the loss and damage provision “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation.”

Next Steps

The Paris Agreement will be open for signature on April 22, 2016.  In order to become a party to the agreement, a country must then express it consent to be bound through a formal process of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession (different terms for essentially the same thing).  Each country has its own domestic procedures for deciding whether to join an international agreement.

The agreement establishes a “double trigger” for entry-into-force: it requires approval by at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.  If states ratify quickly, these conditions could be satisfied pre-2020, allowing the COP to begin meeting as the “meeting of the Parties” to the Paris Agreement, to be known by the acronym CMA. 

In the meantime, pending the agreement’s entry into force, a new Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement will begin meeting to consider issues requiring further rules or guidance. This new ad hoc working group will meet for the first time when the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies convene in Bonn, Germany, on May 16-26, 2016.

COP 22 is set for November 7-18, 2016, in Marrakech, Morocco.


In the enormous swirl of activity surrounding the formal negotiations, governments and many others offered pledges and launched initiatives advancing climate efforts at all levels.

Many national governments offered new financial pledges.  Collectively, developed countries pledged $19 billion to help developing countries, including an announcement by Secretary of State John Kerry that, by 2020, the United States will double its support for adaptation efforts to $800 million a year.  In another sign that developing countries are now also providing support, Vietnam pledged $1 million to the new Green Climate Fund (GCF).  And for the first time, subnational governments also offered pledges, including 1 million euros from the city of Paris for the GCF, and CAD 6 million from Quebec for the UNFCCC’s Least Developed Countries Fund.

Governments also launched new joint initiatives. India and France led 120 countries in announcing an International Solar Alliance supporting solar energy deployment in developing countries.  More than 20 developed and developing countries launched Mission Innovation, pledging to double public investment in clean energy research and development over five years.

New and strengthened initiatives also came from “non-state actors,” including cities, states and regions, companies and investors.  Microsoft founder Bill Gates and 27 other major investors in 10 countries launched the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to steer more private capital into clean energy deployment.  And at a side summit hosted by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, the Compact of Mayors declared that the collective commitments of more than 360 cities will deliver over half of the world’s potential urban emission reductions by 2020.

All through the year, France encouraged non-state actors to demonstrate their action and support by entering pledges into the NAZCA Portal set up under the Lima-Paris Action Agenda.  By the time of Paris, the portal listed nearly 11,000 commitments from 2,250 cities, 150 regions, 2,025 companies, 424 investors, and 235 civil society organizations.

The unprecedented showing of action and support from all levels of society was widely credited as an important factor in Paris’ success.

How we helped on the road to Paris

A host of factors converged to produce a landmark climate agreement in Paris.

The most important was unprecedented political will, reflecting the deepening awareness worldwide of the real and rising risks posed by climate change, and of the economic rewards of a clean-energy transition.

Another was the impressive diplomatic force and finesse of the French, who masterfully managed a process prone to division and disorder, earning precious trust from parties that paid off in the end.

The Toward 2015 Dialogue was instrumental in helping nations build consensus in the runup to the Paris Agreement.

But in the run-up to Paris, one of the reasons I was confident of a good outcome was the growing convergence I’d seen in informal discussions among negotiators and ministers on the broad contours of a deal.

That emerging consensus was clearest to me in nearly 100 hours of intense closed-door discussions we held with senior negotiators from two dozen developed and developing countries.

With generous support from a number of governments, C2ES organized Toward 2015, a series of eight sessions in Germany, Switzerland and the United States that gave negotiators a chance to talk informally and to collectively envision the “landing zones” for Paris. The talks were off-the-record, but the thinking that emerged was captured in a report in July from the dialogue co-chairs, former South African environment minister Valli Moosa and former lead Norwegian negotiator Harald Dovland.

Looking back now at Valli and Harald’s report, I am surprised and gratified to see how closely it forecast the final outcome here in Paris. From broad structure to fine details, it was very much on the mark. 

The report, for instance, said the agreement should: 

Taking the lead at the climate talks

 Business leaders dicuss ways they are innovating and investing to meet their climate challenges at a C2ES event during COP 21 in Paris. (Photo courtesy of UNFCCC via Flickr).

A clear message coming out of Paris is that, now more than ever, businesses, states and cities are taking the lead on climate.

The conference kicked off with more than 150 heads of state -- the largest group of world leaders ever to stand together – urging action to curb the risks of of climate change – the more frequent and severe heat waves, droughts, downpours and rising sea levels that we’re already experiencing.

But I was struck by just how many state representatives, mayors, and business leaders from the U.S. and around the world were here in Paris, all lending their voice to support taking strong action globally to address climate change.

Soon after I arrived, I was honored to participate in a Climate Summit for Local Leaders at Paris City Hall hosted by Mayor Anne Hidalgo of Paris and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It was the first time local leaders had ever gathered in such numbers during a UN climate change conference.

But their actions on climate started long before Paris. More than 400 cities have signed onto the Compact of Mayors – a global coalition of cities committed to measure and reduce their emissions. Former Mayor Bloomberg explained it this way: “Policies at the local level can make a huge difference. Local leaders are doers.”

Takeaways from the Paris climate talks

United Nations area at COP 21 in Paris. (Photo Courtesy of UNFCCC via Flickr).

The Paris climate summit is a tale of lessons learned – lessons both in how to manage an unruly negotiating process that can easily veer out of control, and in how to craft a multilateral approach that gets everyone to do more.

The tale ended thankfully tonight with an agreement that could prove the most significant turning point ever in two decades of climate diplomacy.

The Paris agreement is a pragmatic deal that delivers what’s needed – tools to hold countries accountable and build ambition over time. By giving countries greater confidence that all are doing their fair share, it will make it easier for each to do more.

I’ve engaged closely with the U.N. climate talks since their launch in 1992, and here are some of my takeaways on the ingredients for Paris’ success:

Expectations are a powerful force

Even before the summit started or a single word was agreed, more than 180 countries had offered concrete plans for how they intend to address climate change. This was not because they were obliged to, but simply because there was an expectation set two years ago in Warsaw that they would.

This unprecedented, and largely unanticipated, show of political will created powerful momentum heading into Paris.

The agreement that emerged sets some binding commitments (see below), but much of its force will hinge on the further expectations that it sets: that, going forward, countries will put forward their best efforts, and will strengthen them over time. It creates a succession of political moments, like the one we just experienced, when all can judge whether those expectations are met.

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