Paris Agreement Negotiations: Nationally Determined Contribution Themes and Trends
Dawson, Caroline Elizabeth
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CitationDawson, Caroline Elizabeth. 2020. Paris Agreement Negotiations: Nationally Determined Contribution Themes and Trends. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThe Paris Agreement brings the nations of the world together to work towards limiting climate change. It is now ratified and working. Each party will submit Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), their country’s plans to contribute to the Paris Agreement. These NDCs discuss mitigation and adaptation and related themes. Mitigation covers a range of activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy. Adaptation includes efforts that help people adjust to climate change, such as flood control and disease management. About 90% of the world’s countries are participating in the Paris Agreement with at least one NDC as of January 2019. Additionally, the Paris Agreement requires each nation to improve upon their NDC every 5 years. How the NDCs contribute to the Paris Agreement should be better understood.
What themes and trends are evident in the NDCs? I hypothesized there is increasing interest in mitigation. Additionally, further consideration of adaptation will show potential mitigation co-benefits.
For the first part of this project, the NDCs were read and themes were identified by counting the number of times key words, such as mitigation and adaptation, appeared. Themes related to mitigation and adaptation included technology and land use. Additional themes, such as renewable energy, were added to the research as it became apparent that specific policies or activities are commonly discussed in the NDCs. Themes are countries’ common discussion points on climate change.
Statistics were used to correlate the occurrences of themes with each other. Trends were identified by comparing the themes in the NDCs with the results of previous research on the 2015 documents. Themes were considered from the perspective of the frequency of emissions reporting, quantitative emissions targets, and progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. Research questions and hypothesis sought to increase understanding of the NDC communication common among parties with the most ambition in mitigation. Research questions and hypothesis also sought to increase understanding of factors that might influence other countries to make more progress in mitigation.
The second part of the research examined possible paths towards limiting climate change. With the results of analysis of trends and themes in mind, scenarios were developed in C-ROADS software to show possible paths to reaching the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to less than 2oC. This limit in global temperature is needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change. An additional scenario was developed to address the more ambitious goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than 1.5 oC.
Finally, in its third part, this project analyzed the format of the NDCs. Their lack of a consistent format poses a challenge to clear communication (Pauw et al., 2018). Currently, the NDCs do not include consistent numerical formats for emissions changes and the NDCs do not all address the same topics regarding their contributions. Based on commonalities in the contents and structure of the submitted NDCs, and their relationship to emissions reporting, a recommended format was proposed for use in future NDCs.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365028