Sunday, February 19, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Caitlin Augustin, Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy, New York City, NY
190 countries submitted climate action plans, or “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) in support the 2015 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate agreement reached in Paris. These plans contain targets expressed in different metrics – from intensity reductions to emissions reductions, from immediate reductions to reductions in fifteen years. They also contain different levels of specificity about domestic laws and policies that will be relied upon to achieve the targets. This lack of consistency makes it difficult to compare the INDCs both in terms of respective efforts by each country and in terms of how likely it is that each country will implement the necessary domestic measures to achieve their target. It is clear that consumers of this data would benefit from a tool that would help them evaluate the different INDCs and understand how realistic it is that the INDCs will be met. Most proposals for comparison are focused on the “fairness” or perceived effort component of the climate commitments. We identify two shortcomings of these proposals. First, they often take an emotional approach to an already contentious issue, and are not effective as tools to evaluate the likelihood of implementation, impact, or effectiveness of the INDC. Second, the Paris Agreement’s incorporation of “nationally determined” targets represented an effort to prevent the contentious issue of fairness of effort from blocking countries from establishing targets. Rather than arguing about how much each country should be doing, countries have offered to commit to what they are able to do. This makes it important to understand how likely it is for countries to actually implement their INDCs. We propose a composite “likelihood of implementation” metric based on a composite index of existing world economic indicators on climate readiness, national governance, and sustainability sourced from the ND-GAIN Index, the World Bank’s World Governance Indicators Project and the World Economic Forum. This index is built as a composite score of these 67 variables. This metric as applied toward performance on the Paris agreement is being validated as an assessment tool on past performance toward both the Kyoto and Copenhagen commitments. Furthermore, as a metric encompassing not only performance on climate change, but civil infrastructure, rule of law, and national resource husbandry among other things, this metric could be standardized into a likelihood metric for adherence to multiple international agreements.