Untapped potential for climate action: renewable energy in Nationally Determined Contributions

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are a cornerstone of the Paris Agreement on climate change. They set out the actions that countries plan to undertake to achieve the agreement’s objectives, focused on limiting the rise in average global temperatures to well below 2°C, ideally to 1.5 °C. Renewable energy – increasingly recognised as a key climate solution – features prominently in the first round NDCs arising from the 2015 agreement. Of the 194 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that submitted NDCs, 145 referred to renewables as a way to mitigate climate change, while 109 cited specific renewable energy targets. Countries have the opportunity, however, to significantly strengthen their targets for renewables in the next round of NDCs. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has analysed NDCs in relation to national energy plans and actual deployment trends. In many cases, NDCs have not kept up with recent, rapid growth in renewables, the report finds. Even countries that lacked targets in their NDCs had ambitious plans for renewables in the energy sector.