Quantifying Targets and Actions

About This Opportunity

The opportunity to quantify targets and actions within NDCs is pivotal for enhancing the specificity, transparency, and accountability of climate action plans. This approach not only facilitates clearer monitoring and evaluation but also aligns national efforts with global climate goals, ensuring that all measures are scientifically grounded and strategically focused.

The following strategies could help to implement this Opportunity:

Incorporating evidence-driven mitigation measures and targets:

Most Parties have moved towards quantifying their mitigation targets, with 94% providing clear numerical goals – see “NDC Synthesis Report” (UNFCCC). These quantifiable targets are essential as they offer a measurable benchmark against which progress can be gauged. Economy-wide targets covering all GHGs, sectors and categories provide a useful basis for how collective global progress can be gauged as they facilitates the comparability of emission reduction commitments – see “TACCC principles of the IPCC”. However, Parties’ commitments are nationally determined and, therefore, if economy-wide targets covering all GHGs, sectors and categories are not possible then Parties can provide information on how they are striving to do so and why certain categories have been excluded. The Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT) provides Policy Assessment Guides to help countries assess the climate impacts of policies and actions.

Integrating precise, evidence-based information that reflects the latest in technological advancements and market trends can help ensure that the goals set are achievable and aligned with the latest scientific understanding and sectoral benchmarks.

For example: Renewables now contribute to more than 50% of electricity generation in approximately 30% of countries. This trend supports the feasibility of setting ambitious renewable energy targets in NDCs. (Source: “IEA”)

For example: Aiming for 11 TW of renewable generating capacity globally by 2030 is informed by current growth rates and technological feasibility, making such targets both ambitious and technically possible.(Source: “IEA”)

Ensuring robust and up-to-date reference points:

It is important for Parties to specify a base or start year to anchor their targets. Periodically updating these reference points is important as it ensures the reference against which commitments are being made is reflecting the latest scientific data and any socio-economic changes. Revising baselines and references points can lead to several benefits:

  • Revised Base Year Emissions Increases Ambition: If updated data shows higher initial emissions than estimated, a set percentage reduction becomes a more substantial absolute decrease, thus increasing the target’s ambition.
  • Realigned Targets Reflect Current Data: When socio-economic developments lead to higher emissions than expected, maintaining stringent targets necessitates more aggressive actions to meet these goals, thereby enhancing ambition.
  • Recalibrated Targets Adapt to Changing Conditions: As economic conditions change, adjusting reference points allows for the targets to be recalibrated, ensuring they are both challenging and achievable based on new circumstances.
  • Updated References Enhance Transparency and Support: Regular updates to reference points (e.g. base or start years) demonstrate a commitment to accuracy and heightened ambition, which can be a useful signal to send to the international community to support with receiving

More guidance is available from the Partnership on Transparency in the Paris Agreement (PATPA) on Projections and Accounting for NDCs.

Ensuring clear targets and timeframes:

Clear targets and defined timeframes enhance the effectiveness of NDCs, offering reference points against which progress towards implementation and achievement can be tracked. Communicating these timeframes clearly is important for internal planning and international transparency efforts. Long-term timeframes for NDCs can facilitate strategic planning and, if present, can be derived from and support the alignment with long-term climate goals. This clarity will support internal planning and enhance international transparency and cooperation. Parties’ target timeframes are nationally determined and therefore it is important that Parties describe their national circumstances to understand the context within which the NDC targets are set and pursued. This includes detailing governmental, geographical, economic, and environmental factors that impact GHG emissions and removals. See also “Projections of Greenhouse  Gas Emissions and Removals: An Introductory Guide for Practitioners” from the Partnership on Transparency in the Paris Agreement (PATPA).

Detailed disclosing of data sources and methodological approaches:

Reliable data sources and methodological consistency are fundamental for credible NDCs. This includes using established protocols for estimating emissions and incorporating new scientific methodologies as they become available. Comprehensively detailing the methodologies used helps to make NDCs more transparent and comprehensible to a global audience, thereby increasing their credibility and the likelihood of achieving stated goals. It is also important to ensure that data collection and reporting frameworks are transparent and accurate. Guidance is available, such as: Mitigation Goal Standard (GHG Protocol) and the ICAT Policy Assessment Guides (ICAT). When reporting GHG emission projections, it is also useful from a transparency perspective to detail key parameters and variables used in the projections (e.g., GDP growth, population growth, sector-specific parameters) and details of any cost-benefit analyses.

Aligning with long-term strategies and development priorities:
Linking NDC Goals with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

Understanding these linkages can be supported by analysis of the co-benefits of climate action. The UNFCCC explores co-benefits between adaptation and mitigation through the “Information Paper on Linkages between Adaptation and Mitigation” (UNFCCC), while ICAT explores co-benefits for sustainable development in “Sustainable Development Methodology: Assessing the environmental, social and economic impacts of policies and actions” (ICAT). See also “Opportunity: Amplifying the Mitigation-Adaptation Nexus” and “Opportunity: Enhancing Nature-Based Solutions” for examples of where co-benefits of mitigation and adaption could be considered, and also “Opportunity: Understanding Impacts and Benefits to Society” on impacts and benefits for Just Transitions.

Localizing national emission reduction targets:

Developing NDC targets by sector and disaggregating these can provide a clear opportunity for subnational governments and other non-Party stakeholders to identify and quantify their potential impact and alignment opportunities. Guidance such as the Non-State and Subnational Action Methodology from ICAT can support this. See also “Opportunity: Disaggregating Targets Across Sectors and Government Levels” and “Route: Mobilizes All-of-Government and All-of-Society ” for further related technical and governance strategies.

Country Examples

Rwanda has defined specific actions and targets across multiple sectors including energy, transport, industry, waste, and forestry. Their climate action agenda for 2030 features a 38% reduction from Business-as-Usual, which demonstrates a commitment to quantifiable and ambitious mitigation targets. Rwanda’s example is illustrative of setting comprehensive sector-wide goals that are grounded in current realities and future projections. (Source: “NDC Checklist Rwanda Analysis,” WWF)

Suriname expanded its sectoral coverage in its updated NDC, moving from focusing primarily on forests and renewable energy to including agriculture and transport. This broadening of scope ensures a more holistic approach to emissions reduction across major sectors, illustrating the principle of incorporating a wider array of evidence-driven mitigation measures into national climate action plans. (Source: “NDC Checklist Suriname Analysis,” WWF)

Moldova aligns its climate targets with long-term global warming thresholds, aiming to reduce its net GHG emissions significantly by 2030 from a 1990 baseline. This commitment reflects an understanding of the importance of clear and scientifically valid baselines that correspond with global climate objectives. Moldova’s approach showcases how proper baselines and reference points can provide a solid foundation for ambitious climate targets. (Source: “NDC Checklist: Moldova Analysis,” WWF)

Further Resources

Guidance for Accounting for NDCs with Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets (PATPA, 2022)
This guidance document helps countries in defining, accounting for, and monitoring progress towards their NDC targets under the Paris Agreement. It details methodologies for NDC accounting, highlighting the need for clear base year and baseline scenario targets. The document also provides tools for monitoring policy implementations that support NDC objectives, thereby increasing the transparency and accountability of NDC reporting. It offers insights into how various policies contribute to GHG emissions targets, facilitating strategies to revise baselines and enhance NDC ambition.

ICAT Policy Assessment Guides (ICAT, No date)
These guides are a set of methodologies to help countries assess the climate impacts of policies and actions. Assessments can cover the impacts on greenhouse gas levels, sustainable development outcomes, the transformational change potential, and the impacts of actions at subnational level and by non-Party stakeholders. GHG impact assessment guides are available for the topic areas of agriculture, renewable energy, transport pricing, forestry and buildings efficiency. Crosscutting impact guides are available for sustainable development, transformational change and non-Party and subnational actions.

Mitigation Goal Standard (GHG Protocol, No date)
The GHG Protocol Mitigation Goal Standard provides a framework for national and subnational entities to establish, implement, and monitor GHG mitigation goals. It aligns mitigation strategies with domestic and international reporting requirements under the UNFCCC. It includes setting both economy-wide and sector-specific mitigation targets and offers tools for consistent reporting and assessment of progress.

GHG Projection Guidelines Part A: General Guidance (European Commission, 2010)
This document aims to establish a standardized and detailed methodology for compiling greenhouse gas (GHG) emission projections across the European Union and therefore provides a useful reference for other Parties to draw upon. It provides guidance for projection compilers on collecting and using data, applying methodologies, and reporting emissions.

Sustainable Development Methodology: Assessing The Environmental, Social and Economic Impacts of Policies and Actions (ICAT, 2020)
This document provides a comprehensive framework for evaluating the impacts of policies and actions on sustainable development. The methodology emphasizes the integration of environmental, social, and economic considerations, allowing policymakers to assess the broader implications of their decisions.

2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (IPCC, 2006)
The 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories present a detailed framework and methodology for compiling national inventories of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from sources and removals by sinks. It is a vital resource for all parties to the UNFCCC, offering structured guidance to inventory compilers on consistent, transparent, and accurate reporting. The document includes methodologies for estimation, data collection, inventory quality, and reporting protocols to ensure the reliability of national inventories.

Projections of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals: An Introductory Guide for Practitioners (PATPA, 2021)
This document explains the importance of GHG emission projections in setting reduction targets, tracking progress, and planning mitigation strategies. Projections are highlighted as crucial for setting reduction targets, monitoring progress, and designing effective mitigation policies. The document offers practical guidance for developing national GHG projections, including considerations for tool selection, key factors like activity data and emission factors, and a stepwise approach advocating for initial simplicity with progressive refinement.

Information Paper on Linkages between Adaptation and Mitigation (UNFCCC, 2022)
This paper investigates linkages between adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development within the UNFCCC framework. It does this through a multi-pronged approach of first reviewing IPCC reports to establish the scientific basis of these linkages, before examining how these linkages are addressed under the UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement. It then looks into practical examples of linkages reflected in NAPs, NDCs and other national climate projects. Lastly, it identifies needs, challenges and opportunities associated with interconnected aspects of climate action.

How This Links to Other Routes

This opportunity links to several other routes. Navigate to these to read more

Route: Aligned to the Paris Agreement Temperature Goal

Quantifying targets and actions within NDCs helps ensure mitigation plans are measurable, verifiable, and transparent.

Route: Unlocks Finance

Providing the strongest evidence base possible in NDCs helps Parties seek finance to support the implementation of these commitments.

Support Opportunities

Support is available to countries to apply the learning from the navigator and develop ambitious NDCs 3.0.

Share Additional Resources

Contribute new guidance, tools and strategies to be reflected in the NDC 3.0.