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NDC ASPECTS - Assessing the implementation risks of NDCs: Lessons from 20 cases


The implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) is crucial for achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and limiting global warming to well-below 2 degrees Celsius. A team of NDC ASPECTS researchers led by Lauri Peterson investigated the potential implementation gap between current commitments and plausible climate actions of the NDCs in 19 countries and the EU.

Seven criteria has been established for the assessment of NDC implementation risks, including track record, interest groups, resources dedicated to implementation, policy output, embeddedness in legislation, institutional output, and monitoring and enforcement.

Based on these criteria, some cases are at higher risk to fail to implement their NDC pledges than others, such as Saudi Arabia, which is categorised as “high risk” for six different criteria. A few countries can be considered “low risk” in terms of implementation risks. For instance, the EU and Norway are the most likely to successfully implement their NDC goals. However, most countries can be considered “low risk” for some criteria and “high risk” for other criteria.

Two main conclusions can be drawn from the results of the assessment. First, in line with studies indicating an “implementation gap”, it is highly unlikely that NDCs will be fully implemented. Our selected cases exhibit implementation risks for various criteria, calling into question the likelihood of achieving the 1.5°C goal. Second, although NDCs have been gradually updated, they still are lacking in many crucial regards, such as access to information on government budgeting for climate action. This makes it more to assess and compare countries’ financial investments in climate action. Thus, there is a need for more research that captures funding for the implementation.