NDCs from UK, Switzerland, Costa Rica Reiterate Net Zero Goals (IISD)

  • In recent news about NDCs, the UK, Switzerland, and Costa Rica have highlighted their goals of net zero emissions by 2050, in line with global warming of 1.5°C.
  • The UK’s commitment to reduce its economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, represents an increase from its previous contribution to the EU’s intended NDC.
  • In its updated NDC, Switzerland commits to reduce its GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.
  • The UK and Friends of the Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform issued a joint statement, stressing the importance of a green recovery that ensures stimulus packages do not further entrench the use of fossil fuels.

In recent news about nationally determined contributions (NDCs), the UK has submitted its first NDC to the UNFCCC since its withdrawal from the EU, committing to reduce its economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. In their updated NDCs, Switzerland and Costa Rica commit to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform (Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay) and the UK issued a joint statement, encouraging countries and stakeholders to continue reform and ensure the COVID-19 economic recovery is consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

UK Submits First NDC

The UK’s NDC, submitted on 12 December, represents an increase from its previous contribution to the EU’s intended NDC of 40% by 2030, which was estimated to amount to a 53% reduction on reference levels. According to the UK’s independent statutory body, Climate Change Committee, the country’s new target aligns with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) pathways towards a 1.5°C goal.

By raising ambition, the UK signals its leadership role as co-host of the Glasgow Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in 2021. In 2021, the UK will also preside over the Group of Seven (G7), and COP 26 co-host Italy will hold the Group of 20 (G20) presidency.

The UK intends to meet its NDC mitigation targets through reducing emissions domestically, and reserves the right to use voluntary cooperation, such as through the use of emissions trading systems and emissions reduction or removal units. The UK’s NDC encompasses emissions and removals from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The scope of the NDC does not include emissions from international aviation and shipping. The communication covers the following sectors: energy (including transport); industrial processes and product use; agriculture; land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF); and waste.

The NDC informs of institutional structures and updates on policy measures, including an amendment to the UK’s Climate Change Act in 2019, committing the UK to a legally-binding target of net zero emissions by 2050. The Act also introduced carbon budgets for the UK Government, and established the Climate Change Committee to provide advice.

The NDC highlights the UK’s progress on climate action policy areas linked to the SDGs, including:

  • In the area of food security and policy, the UK is phasing down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), including in refrigeration equipment for food storage and distribution, in line with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
  • Addressing ocean and marine environment, the UK will introduce a sustainable fisheries policy, giving consideration to climate change in marine planning, building ecological resilience at sea, and protecting natural carbon stores through the UK’s network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
  • Regarding terrestrial biodiversity in England, the government will publish a new strategy for nature following agreement of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), expected in 2021.
  • To promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, the UK supports a sustainable food system, and has a resources and waste strategy to move towards a more circular and sustainable economy.
  • The UK’s Clean Air Strategy aims to tackle air pollution, noted as the top environmental risk to human health in the UK.

The UK describes its adaptation actions in its Adaptation Communication submitted in parallel to the NDC.

Continue reading further about Switzerland and Costa Rica on the IISD Website.