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Countries Turn Climate Pledges into Action According to the UNDP Climate Promise Progress Report


United Nations building with flags from around the world on front lawn

Last week the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released its 2021 UNDP Climate Promise Progress Report. The report dives into the latest data, trends, and insights around Climate Promise submissions from developing countries and territories around the world.

As of March 2022, 94 countries have committed to the UNDP Climate Promise and have submitted revised NDCs, representing 22% of global emissions.

What is the UNDP Climate Promise?

The UNDP Climate Promise was created to help developing countries and territories make pledges aligned with the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Promise helps participant countries by providing support on:

  • Net Zero Pathways
  • Adaptation and Resilience
  • Green Jobs and Just Transition
  • Inclusion
  • Climate Finance
  • Circular Economy
  • COVID-19 Recovery
  • Energy
  • Forests, Land, and Nature
  • Urban Issues
  • Climate Security
  • Transparency

What are NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions)?

NDCs, or nationally determined contributions, are climate action plans developed by countries to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts. A country’s NDC defines how it plans to reach emission reduction targets and elaborates on systems to monitor and verify progress to ensure it stays on track. Each country committed to the Paris Agreement is required to establish an NDC and update it every five years.

What Are Countries Doing About Their Climate Pledges?

The UNDP Climate Promise Progress Report explores the various ways countries are taking action through their NDCs to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change. The progress report found that among the countries that have submitted NDCs, 91% have shown an increase in mitigation ambition and 96% have enhanced adaptation strategies. These countries are going beyond pledges with action to help the world achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, and the report results are optimistic.

Countries Are Establishing Policies, Regulations, and More to Address Climate Change

Over the last year, more countries are developing or improving upon climate policies and legislation to prepare for the implementation of their NDCs. The report found that:

  • 90 countries are establishing and/or strengthening policies, institutions, and capacities for effective implementation of their NDCs
  • 35 countries expanded the formulation of NDC implementation strategies and roadmaps
  • 20 countries created new and/or strengthened existing climate policies and regulations

Countries Are Utilizing Technology to Implement Climate Action Plans

As countries implement their NDCs, more and more are recognizing the essential role technology can play in achieving climate pledges and reducing GHG emissions. According to the report:

  • 81 countries are advancing systems to track, monitor, and report on climate action
  • 60 countries built and/or updated Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) systems
  • 40 countries developed and/or improved their GHG inventory systems

As the deadline for reaching emissions reduction targets approaches, technology will play a vital role in helping countries, as well as businesses and institutions, activate climate action plans and monitor their progress over time.

Countries Are Using Finance to Encourage Climate Action

Another insight from the report is the increased number of countries establishing different financial strategies, policies, and regulations to help fund climate initiatives as well as encourage private sector participation in climate action plans. The report found that:

  • 60 countries built strategies, roadmaps, or assessments for budget and finance frameworks
  • 20 countries began developing finance tools, such as carbon pricing and green bonds
  • 14 countries improved policies, regulations, and advocacy around climate investment

Using finance to further climate action plans is a critical tool in the fight against climate change.

The report is certainly encouraging, but again, countries supported by the UNDP only account for 22% of global emissions. What about the rest of the 78%? More still needs to be done to advance policies and regulations in the most industrialized parts of the world to encourage governments, businesses, and institutions to take aggressive action to reduce impacts and see progress toward the Paris Agreement goals.

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