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Aligning energy development and climate objectives in NDCs


This paper looks at how Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana and Peru are aligning their energy policies with their NDCs, or missing key opportunities to do so, as the authors raise questions about how governments could do things differently.

The effectiveness of national energy policy will be decisive for achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Emissions from the production and consumption of energy need to reduce significantly, but government commitments in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) fall short of the action required.

About half of the NDCs submitted do not include actions to reduce energy emissions and, when included, actions may not reflect all energy emissions or be consistent with national energy policies. This paper by Andrew Scott, Leah Worrall and Sejal Patel looks at how four specific developing countries are aligning their energy policies with their NDCs, or missing key opportunities to do so, and they raise questions about how governments could do things differently.

The authors identify Ethiopia and Peru as examples of good practice in addressing energy emissions in their NDCs and consistency with national energy plans. Ethiopia intends to reduce its total emissions by 64% against a business-as-usual trajectory, while Peru aims to reduce emissions by 30% (both conditional on international support).

Bangladesh and Ghana were selected as countries with relatively low ambition in their NDCs. Independent analysis of alternative emissions reduction pathways suggests that there is potential for both countries to submit more ambitious emissions reduction commitments, which would be consistent with their energy sector development goals. When development co-benefits are taken into consideration, such as job creation and improvements to health, the case for higher ambition is strengthened.

NDCs vary considerably in their level of ambition, the level of detail they provide and the depth of analysis underpinning their emissions reduction targets. However, the following conclusions can be drawn from the four countries studied. Where climate change is integral to national policies and development strategy, NDC commitments are more likely to be aligned with sectoral plans.

  • Unsynchronised planning calendars and policy development processes for different elements of the national energy system contribute to diverse and sometimes inconsistent energy targets.
  • Opportunities to identify synergies and the development co-benefits of mitigation actions (e.g. for poverty reduction, job creation and health) could be missed due to continued separation of NDC planning and national development planning.
  • The alignment of NDC mitigation targets with national energy policies and plans may be influenced by political (or tactical) factors, which are related to the different audiences for NDCs and national plans.
  • The mitigation potential of access to modern energy services is recognised in the NDCs, particularly with respect to energy for cooking. Substantial change from business-as-usual will be required in countries where cooking energy emissions reductions are significant for NDC objectives.
  • Some countries could be more ambitious in their emissions reduction targets and still meet their energy development objectives. The revision of NDCs, beginning with the UNFCCC’s Facilitative Dialogue (‘Talanoa Dialogue’) in 2018, provides an opportunity for these countries to realign their NDCs and energy plans.

Read the paper here: Aligning energy development and climate objectives in Nationally Determined Contributions

Photo: thermal power plant, Ghana, credit World Bank