Assessing the National Pledges

The state of the debate

Version 3.2 of April 10, 2015

This document is not intended to be comprehensive. Rather, it is a quick overview to the current range of INDC tracking and assessment initiatives, which is to say, initiatives that are designed to help us make sense of the national pledges of climate action. Its focus is on the emerging art of equity assessment. In other words, what countries are doing, or proposing to do, their fair shares? Which countries are doing more than others? How do you even think about such comparisons when countries are at different levels of development?

This document only lists initiatives that 1) I know about, which 2) struck me as notable. If I’ve left out something that you think should be here, please let me know. Keep in mind that there are very few papers and reports mentioned here. I’ll probably add more in the future, but the focus is and will remain on assessment projects, frameworks and systems.

Also note that the commentary here is, with a few exceptions, extremely brief and even telegraphic. Please tell me if I got anything wrong, or if you otherwise have a bone to pick with anything here. This is a living document and will be updated as the landscape changes.

At least until Paris.

Tom Athanasiou

Framing the INDCs, and the Paris outcome

Some framing points to keep in mind

* The INDCs will focus on domestic mitigation alone. The larger picture, which must include international MOI, Adaptation, and Loss & Damage, could allow for national “pledges” (including conditional contributions) to be far stronger and more fair than implied by the INDCs alone.

* INDCs, in other words, are only “part of the picture.” Nevertheless, they are key. And we already know that any proper assessment of the INDCs will be an assessment of their inadequacy, not of their adequacy. This is a critical political fact. It should not be ducked.

* Many efforts to shape the Paris narrative are already underway. Much depends on how the “INDC Gap” (the space between the collective need and the collective effort) is framed. After all, framing the INDC Gap correctly will be essential to closing it, which we must do as quickly as possible. 2020 would not be too soon.

* Many assessments of the INDC Gap will be limited to the inadequacy of the collective effort. This is not a sufficient approach to assessment, and will not empower us to increase overall ambition, not fast enough in any case. Comparative equity assessment of national contributions is also essential, and inevitable. Such assessment must be done properly.

With this in mind, see below.

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