The adoption of Paris Agreement in 2015 is a momentous one in terms of climate negotiations where 196 counties pledged to embrace a paradigm shift to transform their development activities towards a sustainable practice, aiming at limiting the global warming to 1.5 to 2°C above the pre-industrial levels.
Nationally Determined Contributions, mostly knows as NDCs are at the heart of the Paris Agreement to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement and reflects each country's pledged climate ambitions for reducing emission, as well as plans to foster climate resilience and low carbon development.
Although the development of NDCs brought about a much needed momentum, but often developed quickly with limited data, insufficient consultations and resources, NDCs missed the opportunity to link development and climate agendas to promote an enabling environment of ambition and inclusive climate action.
The Paris Agreement established probation for periodic review of NDCs in 5-year cycles to increase ambition in emission reductions, enhance climate resilience and make more communicating for effective implementation over time.
As many countries including Bangladesh have initiated the process of enhancing or updating climate ambitions or NDCs in 2020, there is a scope to integrate the missed opportunities for enhancing mitigation ambitions, as well as strengthening adaptation plans and actions, ensuring more clarity, transparency for the better implementation of the NDCs.
There are many reasons to enhance the NDCs, but for a developing country like Bangladesh these could be seizing opportunities for economic growth and development, attracting climate finance and investment, maximising synergies with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), taking advantage of major technological developments, and bolstering implementation.
It is important to ensure active participation by all the relevant government agencies, scientists, research institutes, non-governmental and international organisations, enterprises and development partners.
It is important that the developing countries should assess the development potentials of climate interventions and modify or integrate the NDC to maximise co-benefits. We need to be innovative as we are updating the NDCs of Bangladesh.
NDC enhancement process should recognise economy-wide mitigation measures that span all the relevant sectors. Bangladesh is considered as one of the leading countries in the world in terms of its knowledge and actions on adaptation to climate change, but in terms mitigation actions the country still lacks capacity mostly because of the lack of reliable data, actions from both private and public sectors, sector wide implementation etc.
Though many of us often consider NDC as a mitigation guideline only where countries pledge their climate ambition; adaptation is also a major component of NDC. Enhancing the adaptation measures in an NDC should be designed in a way so that it can increase the visibility and profile of adaptation to achieve balance with mitigation, promote learning and understanding of adaptation needs and actions, strengthen collaboration and support and provide inputs to the global stock-take.
Bangladesh is also developing National Adaptation Plan (NAP), so it is important to ensure harmonisation between these two documents to enable an inclusive climate action. The enhancement process should include loss and damage, gender equality, creation of social supports to help the millions of displaced people and health.
In addition to the enhanced mitigation and adaptation measures, the revised NDC should feature new actions, like nature-based solutions, locally led adaptation, urban resilience, and significantly improve the implementation modality of the proposed actions.
Restoration of degraded ecosystems to healthy functioning may lead towards decarbonisation [MAH3] with multiple environmental, social, and economic benefits. It is also important to ensure that the enhanced NDC analysed relevant synergies, opportunities and trade-offs to rationalise with other international and national processes; for example, revised Bangladesh Climate Change Strategies and Action Plan (BCCSAP), national or sectoral development planning processes, 5-year plan, the 2030 Development Agenda (SDGs) of the government and all other relevant key documents including challenges and response measures for the harmonisation and better implementation.
Capacity building should be one of the core components and all the relevant institutions should assess their capacity for the implementation of NDCs to be clearer and more specific in terms of the need of capacity building and additional assistance.
Countries should consider this enhancement process as an opportunity to engage all the relevant stakeholders in support of the implementation and to attract finance, capacity building initiatives, technical advancements from the international community.
Covid-19 is posing challenges to the NDC update process, particularly in the consultation process, collecting and validating data, and engaging the relevant stakeholders. As a result, there is a chance that many countries may fail to meet the quality and ambition to enhance their NDCs by 2020.
It is important to maintain the momentum to enhance NDCs and bring climate into the heart of the Covid-19 recovery process. Bangladesh should prepare its enhanced NDC in a way that it can support as a catalyst to seize the wider social and economic benefits that a zero carbon future can offer.
A comprehensive climate plan that protects citizens, create green jobs and generate sustainable economic growth should be the core message of the enhanced NDC.
A S M Marjan Nur, Research Coordinator, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research (C3ER), BRAC University.