Chile’s draft new Paris pledge moves climate action in the right direction: could be close to 2˚C and 1.5˚C pathways

CAT Comment

October 2019

Chile is one of the first countries to propose an updated and clearly more ambitious Paris Agreement pledge (or “nationally determined contribution” - NDC). This development is a globally important leadership signal as Chile is hosting the Climate Conference in December in a context where, under the Paris Agreement and its enabling decisions, all countries have been requested to improve their NDCs by 2020 so as to close the emissions gap.

A move by Chile to lead will likely encourage others to present more ambitious contributions as soon as possible. Globally, combined national action is far from being sufficient to meet the agreed global goal under the Paris Agreement of limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C and would lead to a warming of around 3.2°C by 2100.

Chile has released its new draft NDC for consultation. It refers to economy-wide emissions excluding the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector. It provides targets in terms of absolute emissions (97 MtCO2e in 2030), includes a carbon budget between 2020 and 2030 (1 110 and 1 175 MtCO2e between 2020 and 2030) and a peak in emissions by 2027.

This proposed absolute unconditional NDC target for 2030 is more ambitious than its earlier intensity target submitted in 2015, and could bring Chile’s pledge towards its fair share. The new draft also adds transparency to Chile’s commitment, by moving to an absolute emissions target instead of one based on emissions intensity of GDP, and specifying differential targets for the LULUCF sector.

The CAT’s preliminary evaluation indicates that this proposed unconditional NDC level is roughly in line with the lower end of our planned policies projection level for 2030, and if fully implemented it would move Chile close to the section of its fair share range consistent with 2°C.

There is much more uncertainty about the proposed new conditional target – linked to climate finance, which is defined as “a potential of up to 45% reductions of net emissions with 2016 as reference”. If this target were excluding LULUCF and unconditional, it would be close to Chile’s fair share range compatible with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. However, in order for the CAT to be able to assess the additionality of this target compared with the unconditional one, Chile would need to provide more clarity around which sectors are included in the base and target years.

The CAT will provide a full and more definitive analysis of Chile’s new NDC proposal along with other countries, to be released as part of the COP25 update.

Chile would almost meet this new proposed target if it implements all the policies it already has planned, including a full coal phase-out by 2040. Chile has not yet specified a concrete coal phase-out plan: the CAT’s “planned policy scenario” assumes a linear shut-down of coal power plants. As an OECD country, Chile will need to phase out coal from its power sector by around 2030 to be compatible with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.

By implementing all of its planned policies Chile could peak its emissions in 2023, which would be earlier than the proposed peak in 2027, and would be a remarkable achievement and set up the nation as a front-runner on climate action.

As in its 2015 NDC, Chile’s new proposal includes separate unconditional targets for the forestry sector. Chile has now doubled these targets from 100,000 hectares to 200,000 hectares, which it proposed to sustainably manage and another 200,000 hectares to be reforested. Another important LULUCF target in the updated NDC is the 25% reduction in emissions for forest land degradation and deforestation of primary forest, compared to a reference value of the average annual emissions between 2001 and 2013.

On top of its unconditional and unconditional targets, Chile is also proposing an emissions reduction target on Black Carbon.

In this new draft NDC update, Chile also acknowledges its 2030 target as a medium-term goal towards achieving its long-term goal for carbon-neutrality in 2050. Additionally, this draft proposal also mentions planning processes involving governance, existing and future strategies including the “Long-term Climate Strategy 2050.”

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