Clarifying INDCs

2 June 2015

Today will see Switzerland, the EU and Norway take the stage: we salute you for being the first ones to submit your INDCs, and for having the guts to step up to this Q&A session.


Switzerland was the first country to submit an INDC. It plans to reduce emissions by 50% from 1990 levels by 2030, with 30% to be achieved domestically, and the rest through offsets. It’s turned to the same approach with the long-term target, using offsets again. Which is far from clever! If the whole world needs to decarbonise by mid-century, what makes Switzerland think there will be enough offsets available? In any case, it really doesn’t make sense to spend your money on offsets. Those need to be bought year after year, it makes much more sense to just achieve your reductions independently which brings jobs and other co-benefits. And could you kindly specify the amount of offsets in tonnes, and clarify your responsibility to provide finance for mitigation and adaptation abroad? Then there’s the question of how non-forest land emissions can be accounted as zero…


The EU a.k.a the first major economy to submit its INDC, where it commits to at least 40% emission reduction from 1990 levels by 2030. This is not in line with the agreed 2°C threshold, nor does it represent the EU’s fair share of the global effort. It’s also not quantifiable. How many tonnes does the EU intend to emit between 2021-2030? The EU has already achieved its 20% by 2020 target, and over-achieve. What will be the starting point in 2021, in tonnes? The LULUCF sector, that is a carbon sink for the EU, will now be included into the 2030 framework, but the details are unclear. How many tonnes will the EU’s LULUCF sink absorb during this period? Will the inclusion of this sector reduce the effort intended for other sectors? What would the “at least”part of the EU 40% commitment look like? And what about the EU’s responsibility to finance adaptation and mitigation in poor countries?


Norway’s INDC mimics the EU submission with a target of 40% emissions reduction by 2030, compared to 1990. Interestingly, the term “carbon neutral by 2050” and the inclusion of offsets by 2030 were also introduced. ECO would like to know how carbon neutrality will be defined—we haven’t been able to find any information on this front. Does “neutral” mean that Norway expects to emit as much CO₂ as the Norwegian forests are currently absorbing? More than 20 million tonnes of CO₂ a year. ECO is also puzzled by the absence of concrete targets for low-carbon development in other sectors, why don’t you just set a date for when road transport must be fossil free? And, let’s be real: Norway, do you really think your INDC is fair and ambitious? You are a wealthy country with a high emissions per capita. According to the IPCC: if responsibility, capacity and need are taken into account, OECD countries should cut emissions by 106-128%. As the rich uncle of Europe and Norway, we had expected more from you!

Next week we will hear about Mexico, US and Canada. And maybe Russia, do you not dare?

Clarifying INDCs

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