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Response: NDCs – Nationally Determined Contributions

NDCs – Nationally Determined Contributions

(Image: Macrovector@Freepik)

NDCs: Nationally Determined Contributions


  • Under the Paris Agreement (Article 4, paragraph 2) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 196 countries promised to set targets for reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions. The system was called Nationally Determine Contributions or NDCs, to keep the world well below 2.5°C warming. In fact, when added up, all the NDCs set the world on target to reach more than 3°C.

‘Then, we all set about comprehensively failing to implement event those measures. We’re currently on track to reach 5°C by the end of century.” – Dave Borlice (Video 1).

“New Zealand’s Paris Agreement target is inconsistent with the Government’s goal of keeping the average temperature increase to within 1.5°C, officials have told ministers. The advice from the Ministry for the Environment was given to Climate Change Minister James Shaw in February and obtained by Stuff under the Official Information Act.

“Shaw was told the target allows some 85 million tonnes more emissions between 2021 and 2030 than would be compatible with a 1.5°C goal – putting the country over budget by about one year’s current emissions.” –  Stuff July 2020

Fig. 2: New Zealand’s commitments to reduce net emissions are insufficient to stay within what the IPCC deemed as ‘safe’ temperature increase of 1.5°C above pre-Industrial levels. We also exceed the ‘dangerous’ 2°C levels and instead are aiming for 3°C (Image: Nature)
Fig. 3: (Ministry for the Environment)
Fig. 3: (Ministry for the Environment)


Net emissions:

Net emissions means gross greenhouse gas emissions (‘spending’ carbon) from all industrial activities, burning fossil fuels for energy, and agriculture, minus carbon sinks (‘saving’ carbon) from forestry, changing agricultural to improve soils, and regenerating natural ecosystems. However, instead of declining, global emissions continue to increase each year. Due to reduced transport, Covid-19 meant a temporary respite of carbon dioxide emissions. However, that has not reduced agriculture emissions in New Zealand and elsewhere. Manufacturing in China has also resurged. Moreover, dangerous tipping points are being breached, which means natural carbon sinks are now becoming sources of methane and carbon dioxide.