Carolina Schmidt, COP25 President and Minister of Environment of Chile, on the First NDC Synthesis Report: “The magnitude of this global challenge demands greater ambition and leadership from major emitters”

This Friday, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released its First NDC Synthesis Report, revealing that countries must redouble their efforts and submit more ambitious national climate action plans by 2021 to deliver on the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise by 2C – ideally 1.5C – by the end of the century.

This report aggregates new emissions reduction commitments to 2030 presented by countries until the end of last year.

Chile was among the first seven country in the world to present its new commitments, and exhibited a significant increase in its level of climate ambition, as recognised by a number of international organizations.

The First NDC Synthesis Report indicates that much work remains to be done internationally, particularly by major emitters.

“Only 2 of the 18 largest emitters – the UK and EU – submitted updated NDCs in 2020 with a significant increase in their GHG reduction targets.  The other major emitters either submitted NDCs with a minimal increase in ambition or have not submitted their new NDCs yet.  Although the Synthesis Report shows that the NDCs submitted in 2020 are clearer and more complete than the first round – for example, containing more information on adaptation and greater alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals – the overall level of ambition exhibited by major emitters in this first snapshot, is very low,” said COP25 President and Minister of Environment, Carolina Schmidt.

“The magnitude of this global challenge requires collaborative work by all actors, in particular the major global players. We will only succeed if China, the United States and others step up with ambition. And in that respect we have good news because the new US and Chinese authorities understand well the magnitude of the problem and are working with greater ambition, for example targeting carbon neutrality in the long term” Schmidt added.

The report, requested by Parties to the Paris Agreement to measure progress on national climate action plans ahead of COP26, which will to be held this November in Glasgow, shows that only 75 Parties have communicated a new or updated NDC, representing approximately 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Only 8 of the largest emitters submitted new NDCs in 2020 and the combined impact of all NDCs submitted remains extremely low –  only a 1% reduction by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, far below the 45% reduction identified as necessary by the IPCC to achieve the 1.5°C temperature goal.

Patricia Espinosa, UN Executive Secretary for Climate Change, said, “While we recognize the recent shift in political momentum towards stronger climate action around the world, decisions to accelerate and scale up climate action everywhere must be taken now.”

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted “This is a unique moment that cannot be missed. As we rebuild, we cannot go back to business as usual. NDCs must reflect this reality and major emitters, especially the G20 nations, must lead the way”.

Following the postponement of COP26 until this year,  2021 presents a new opportunity for large emitters to commit to high levels of ambition, and for those that have already submitted NDCs with low levels of ambition to increase their commitments.