04 Nov 2021
What are Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and how can they lead us towards a sustainable future?
The Paris Climate agreement was signed between 191 parties in 2015 with an aim to legally bind the parties to take steps to limit the rise in the global average temperature to 1.5 degrees. The commitments from the various countries could not be similar for developed and developing countries provided the kind of finance, technology […]

The Paris Climate agreement was signed between 191 parties in 2015 with an aim to legally bind the parties to take steps to limit the rise in the global average temperature to 1.5 degrees. The commitments from the various countries could not be similar for developed and developing countries provided the kind of finance, technology and resources which are needed to reach the goal. Therefore, it was decided that upon that each country can give its individual targets on coal emissions, renewable energy etc. for the year 2030.

Each country who is a party in the Paris Climate Agreement has now specified several targets which it is legally bound to complete in the specified year. These targets are set to pose a positive mark on the environment since all of them are targeted towards limiting the global rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees.

Given below are the NDCs of some countries which they have set for themselves as per the NDC registry of UNFCCC:


India is committed to engaging actively in multilateral negotiations under the UNFCCC in a positive, creative and forward-looking manner. It’s objective is to establish an effective, cooperative and equitable global architecture based on climate justice and the principles of Equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities, under the UNFCCC.

India accounts for 2.4% of the world surface area, but supports around 17.5% of the world population. It houses the largest proportion of global poor (30%), around 24% of the global population without access to electricity (304 million), about 30% of the global population relying on solid biomass for cooking and 92 million without access to safe drinking water.

However, on the opening day of COP26, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country, which is the third largest emitter in the world, will achieve net zero emissions by 2070.

Preliminary estimates indicate that India would need around $206 billion (at 2014 – 15 prices) between 2015 and 2030 for implementing adaptation actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries infrastructure, water resources and ecosystems. Apart from this there will be additional investments needed for strengthening resilience and disaster management.

Here are some measures taken by India under its NDCs:

  1. National Solar Mission scaled up five-fold from 20 GW to 100 GW by 2022. Kochi Airport is the World’s first airport to fully run on solar power.
  2. National Air Quality Index launched with One Number, One Color and One Description to give the status of air pollution in a particular city
  3. Launched National Mission for Clean Ganga (Namami Gange) which seeks to rejuvenate the river.  
  4. National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency (NBWUE) proposed for promotion, regulation and control of efficient use of water.  
  5. ‘Give It Up’ Campaign launched to encourage citizens to give up subsidy on cooking gas to meet the needs of the truly needy citizens, thereby promote shift away from inefficient use of biomass in rural areas
  6. Setting up of Rs. 3,500 million ($55.6 million) National Adaptation Fund
  7. Introduction of Tax Free Infrastructure Bonds for funding of renewable energy projects


Australia has a strong track record of setting emissions reduction targets that are both ambitious and achievable, and of holding ourselves accountable for exceeding them. 

Australia met and exceeded its first and second commitment period targets under the Kyoto Protocol and its 2020 target under the Convention. 

Australia’s plan has the wellbeing and prosperity of Australia’s regional communities at its core. It recognises that trends in technology and consumer preferences will drive a global shift towards low emissions energy sources and new energy technologies. 

The Government will partner with Australian communities and businesses to provide the support they need to benefit from these shifts by capturing new markets and economic opportunities. 

Australia is working with five core principles to formulate emissions reduction policies. Taken together, these principles will ensure Australia’s shift to a net zero emissions economy will be effective, fair and equitable, and that no sector of the economy will carry a disproportionate burden. 

  1. Deploy technology not taxes – Focus on reducing the cost of low emissions energy sources, not raising the cost of existing approaches. This approach will not impose new costs on households or businesses, enabling Australia to achieve our emissions reduction targets while growing our economy and jobs
  2. The Government will expand choices, not mandates, recognising that widespread deployment of mature technologies will be led by the private sector with an enabling role for government, as households and businesses adopt new technologies where it makes sense for them to do so. 
  3. Achieving the global Paris goals requires transformative technologies to be deployed at scale across all sectors of the economy. Australia’s priority must be to drive down the cost of a range of technologies to bring them to commercial parity. This is the objective of Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap. 
  4. Protect the competitiveness of their businesses and industries, and the livelihoods of Australians and keep energy prices down with affordable and reliable power 
  5. Transparency is essential to convert ambition into achievement. Australia will be accountable for progress under this plan, setting the global benchmark for transparency and accountability in their emissions reporting. Globally, Australia will continue to advocate for all major economies to be held to the same high standards of transparency


On September 22, 2020, China’s President, Xi Jinping declared, at the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, that China would scale up its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by adopting more vigorous policies and measures, and aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

China has made positive progress in implementing its NDCs, through a series of measures such as adjusting industrial structure, optimizing energy mix, promoting energy saving and improving energy efficiency, using market mechanisms, and increasing carbon sinks. 

According to preliminary calculations, China’s carbon intensity (CO2 emission per unit of GDP) in 2019 was 51.9% of that in 2005. A decrease of about 48.1% from 2005. 

It outperforms the 2020 goal of cutting CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40– 45% from the 2005 level, and represents a cumulative reduction of about 5.7 billion tons in CO2 emissions. 

This basically reverses the fast growth trend of CO2 emissions and makes a huge contribution to the global response to climate change.

China’s updated NDC goals are as follows: 

  1. Aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060
  2. To lower CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by over 65% from the 2005 level
  3. To increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 25%
  4. To increase the forest stock volume by 6 billion cubic meters from the 2005 level
  5. To bring its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1.2 billion kilowatts by 2030.

United Kingdom

In its NDC, the UK is committing to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Delivery of the UK’s NDC will draw on a range of policies and measures already in place, as well as policies and measures that will be developed in the future. 

For example, in November 2020, the UK Prime Minister set out his ambitious Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution. 

Spanning clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK, and unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030.

The UK intends to publish a comprehensive Net Zero Strategy, setting out the government’s vision for transitioning to a net zero economy by 2050, making the most of new growth and employment opportunities across the UK. 

The Net Zero Strategy will constitute the UK’s revised Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy to the UNFCCC. The UK also intends to publish ambitious individual plans across key sectors of the economy, including an Energy White Paper, Transport Decarbonisation Plan, England Peat Strategy and Heat and Buildings Strategy.

The UK is committed to delivering a national shift to healthy diets supported by a sustainable food system which contributes towards a reduction in GHG emissions.

The Resources and Waste Strategy sets out England’s plans to move away from a linear economy, towards a more circular and sustainable economy in which natural resources are used efficiently and waste is minimised.   

Air pollution is the top environmental risk to human health in the UK, which is why the UK’s Clean Air Strategy sets out how the UK will tackle all types of air pollution, making the air healthier to breathe and protecting nature. This will save lives and reduce health inequalities, in line with protecting the right to health as set out in the Paris Agreement.

United States of America:

The United States is setting an economy-wide target of reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 percent below 2005 levels in 2030. Based on preliminary estimates, the United States is expected to have met and surpassed its 2020 target of net economy-wide emissions reductions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels and is broadly on track to achieve 26-28 percent emissions reductions below 2005 levels in 2025. 

The 2030 target represents increased ambition made possible in part through advances in technology and resulting market responses. 

The United States has set a goal to reach 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, which could be achieved through multiple cost-effective technology and investment pathways, each resulting in meaningful emissions reductions in this decade. 

Eliminating greenhouse gases from the electricity sector will also reduce air and water pollution, improving public health while supporting good jobs and building modern infrastructure. Policies that contribute to emissions reduction pathways consistent with the NDC include incentives and standards to reduce pollution.

In developing the NDC, the United States considered sector-by-sector emissions reduction pathways. Each policy considered for reducing emissions is also an opportunity to improve equity and support good jobs in the United States.

The United States will decarbonize the energy sector, including by cutting energy waste; shifting to carbon pollution-free electricity; electrifying and driving efficiency in vehicles, buildings, and parts of industry; and scaling up new energy sources and carriers such as carbon-free hydrogen.

The United States government will support research, development, demonstration, commercialization, and deployment of very low- and zero-carbon industrial processes and products. For example, the United States will incentivize carbon capture as well as new sources of hydrogen – produced from renewable energy, nuclear energy, or waste – to power industrial facilities.

To address methane, the United States will update standards and invest in plugging leaks from wells and mines and across the natural gas distribution infrastructure. In addition, it will offer programs and incentives to improve agricultural productivity through practices and technologies that also reduce agricultural methane and N2O emissions.

The need for climate action

It is time that the nations realise the importance of fulfilling these targets of the NDCs since the world is heading towards living in a hotter climate. Simultaneous shifts in the weather leading to natural devastations like floods, droughts, cyclones etc threaten the developing nations the most. Not only the human populations but also the animals, vegetation and the crop cycles get disturbed as the result of climate change. The need to act now has never been more pertinent. At COP26, countries have convened to decide their route for climate action as all eyes circle back to their proposed NDCs.

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