Intended Nationally Determined Contributions

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) are (intended) reductions in greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Latest Context on Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) – 

The UNFCCC, in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Synthesis Report, has called for more ambitious climate action plans by the countries in order to achieve the Paris Agreement target of containing global temperature rise to 2°C by the end of the century (ideally it is 1.5°C).

  1. The NDC Synthesis Report covers submissions up to 31st December 2020 and includes new or updated NDCs by 75 Parties, which represent approximately 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. The report was sought ahead of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the UNFCCC which is scheduled to take place from 1st-12th November 2021, in Glasgow, UK.
  3. NDCs are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Each NDC reflects the country’s ambition, taking into account its domestic circumstances and capabilities.

Findings of the Report

  1. Out of the 18 regions of the world’s biggest emitters, only the United Kingdom and the European Union have significantly increased their greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets. The rest 16 regions have not increased their emission reduction targets at all or substantially.
  2. While a majority of countries increased their individual levels of ambition to reduce emissions, their combined impact will help achieve only a 1% reduction by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. therefore, the current levels of climate ambition are very far from putting us on a pathway that will meet our Paris Agreement goals.
  3. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Global emissions, need to reduce by 45% in order to meet the 1.5°C goals.

This article will give further information about the INDC within the context of the Civil Service Examinations.

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Overview of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions

The INDCs combine the top-down system of a United Nations climate agreement with bottom-up system-in elements through which countries put forwards their agreements in the context of their national capabilities, circumstances and priorities with the goal of reducing greenhouse emissions.

The INDC in itself has safeguards which help in emission reductions and also address steps taken to adapt to climate change impacts along with looking into what the country needs to implement such steps.

When and INDC data is submitted by a country, an assessment phase is followed to review the impact of the submitted INDCs before the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

During the COP 21 of the UNFCCC, in which the Paris Agreement was signed. The following INDCs was submitted:

  • China: targeted a 60-65% reduction of greenhouse gases emitted.
  • United States: aimed to reduce greenhouse gases by 26-28%
  • European Union: Sough to reduce greenhouse gases by 40%
  • India: Submitted a target of 33-35% per unit of GDP

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Challenges and Opportunities of the INDC

Like all climate change agreements, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions comes with its fair share of opportunities and challenges.


  • The INDC showed that economic growth is compatible with low-carbon and climate-resilient pathways.
  • It will also help in poverty alleviation, improved health, and easy access to energy and security
  • It will also attract financial, capacity building and technological-transfer support.
  • If other countries are encouraged to take similar actions, it might mitigate the worst of climate change.

Nationally Determined Contributions – UPSC Notes – Download PDF Here


Some of the challenges related to the INDCs include:

  • Some countries feel that the short timeframe available to develop the INDC is a hurdle.
  • Limited expertise in technical options
  • Lack of certainty and guidance on what should be included in INDCs or not
  • Lack of international support to developing the INDCs

India’s INDC, to be achieved primarily, by 2030

  • A total of 40% of the installed capacity for electricity will be from non-fossil fuel sources.
  • To reduce the emissions intensity of the GDP by about a third.
  • India also promised an additional carbon sink (a means to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by the year 2030.

FAQ about Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC)


What has been the progress of the INDCs filed?

By the time COP 25 took place in 2019, global environmental NGOs published an assessment of 184 INDCs filed in which it was found that 20% of them were ‘sufficient’, 6% ‘partially sufficient’, 4% ‘partially insufficient’ and 70 % ‘insufficient’.

How is the INDC relevant?

The INDCs are the primary means for governments to communicate internationally the steps they will take to address climate change in their own countries.

Are INDCSs legally binding?

An Internationally Determined Contribution is not legally binding, but a review process in the agreement would assess how countries are meeting their goals.

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