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Sufficient or insufficient: Assessment of the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) of the world’s major greenhouse gas emitters

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The recent Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has resulted in the submission of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of 190 countries. This study aims to provide an analysis of the ambitiousness and fairness of the mitigation components of the INDCs submitted by various parties. We use a unified framework to assess 23 INDCs that cover 50 countries, including European Union (EU)-28 countries as parties to the Convention, which represent 87.45% of the global greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. First, we transform initial INDC files into reported reduction targets. Second, we create four schemes and six scenarios to determine the required reduction effort, which considers each nation’s reduction responsibility, capacity, and potential, thereby reflecting their historical and current development status. Finally, we combine the reported reduction target and the required reduction effort to assess INDCs. Evaluation results of the 23 emitters indicate that 2 emitters (i.e., EU and Brazil) are rated as “sufficient,” 7 emitters (e.g., China, the United States, and Canada) are rated as “moderate,” and 14 emitters (e.g., India, Russia, and Japan) are rated as “insufficient.” Most pledges exhibit a considerable distance from representing a fair contribution.

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We acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 71871022, 71471018, 71521002, and 71828401), the Social Science Foundation of Beijing (Grant No. 16JDGLB013), the Joint Development Program of Beijing Municipal Commission of Education, the Fok Ying Tung Education Foundation (No. 161076), the National Key R&D Program (Grant No. 2016YFA0602603), the International Clean Energy Talent Program of the Chinese Scholarship Council, and the Key Technology Partnership Visiting Fellow Program from University of Technology Sydney and Beijing Institute of Technology.

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Correspondence to Ke Wang.

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Gao, G., Chen, M., Wang, J. et al. Sufficient or insufficient: Assessment of the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) of the world’s major greenhouse gas emitters. Front. Eng. Manag. 6, 19–37 (2019).

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