Towards ambitious INDCs: Linking research and policymaking

Working Paper
Towards ambitious INDCs: Linking research and policymaking

This report, jointly prepared by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Japan, and the Energy Research Institute (ERI), China, aims to identify concrete ways the latest research on national and global greenhouse gas (GHG) emission pathways could contribute to raising the ambition levels of INDCs toward the global 2°C target. The report reflects the discussions at the IGES-ERI Policy Research Workshop held in September 2014 in Beijing, China, and funded by the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ). The workshop invited experts on energy and GHG modelling as well as energy and climate policies from mainly China, Japan, the EU and the USA.

The key messages from the workshop are as follows:
o The key initial step toward enhancing global mitigation ambitions is to enhance transparency and understanding of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) of each Party, in particular major economies. Two different modelling approaches—a bottom-up approach, such as technology-based energy system modelling, and a top-down approach, such as allocation of mitigation efforts based on equity indicators—can serve as complementary sources of information in understanding INDCs.

o Bottom-up scenario assessments could help Parties better communicate their INDCs by providing a “narrative” behind the numerical targets—information on underlying macroeconomic drivers, mitigation potentials and other national circumstances. Such information is essential for a fair review of INDCs.

o The equity-based, top-down approach could provide benchmarks guiding the assessment of each Party’s relative contribution to the global 2°C target in terms of equity and sufficiency. From this perspective, the regional effort-sharing ranges presented in the Working Group III Contribution to the 5th Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC; Figure 6.28 of Chapter 6) would be more useful if they are disaggregated to the country level for major emitting countries.

o A consortium of climate policy research institutes with good regional representative can make modelling exercises more regionally nuanced and accountable for national and regional circumstances. Such a research consortium can also be a vehicle for capacity building. The Research Consortium can be comprised of currently existing research initiatives such as the Low Carbon Society Research Network (LCS-RNet), the Low Carbon Asia Research Network (LoCARNet), the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP), the Open Climate Network (OCN), and the Climate Action Tracker (CAT).

o Long-term national emissions pathways consistent with the 2°C target need to be developed by national experts. Such country-specific emission pathways can be devised to reflect their national circumstances and fit with their developmental as well as socio-economic and environmental goals. The DDPP is a good example of such initiatives.

o The concept of “carbon budget” at the national level can provide opportunity for a country to manage its long-term emission pathway in an effective and sustainable manner. It is important to manage total cumulative GHG emissions to be consistent with the long-term global carbon budget for the 2°C goal, as well as to assess national GHG emission reduction targets from a perspective of their consistency with the global carbon budget