Scientists worldwide have warned that human activities are some of the reasons why the climate is changing. In 1992, governments worldwide began to listen to these scientists and agreed to work together by adopting the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change whose main objectives are to avoid dangerous human interference with the climate system and to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level where countries could still attain their sustainable development goals.  The Kyoto Protocol in 1997 set binding emissions reduction targets for developed countries and established carbon markets.  Much has changed since the 90s in terms of vulnerabilities to climate impacts as well as emissions from countries. After two decades of negotiations, governments finally agreed to a universal agreement in the 21st Conference of Parties held in Paris aimed to curb emissions to ensure that effects of climate change would be minimized.

The Paris Agreement has set ambitious goals to strengtehn the global response to climate change in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, targeting to reach net zero GHG emissions in the second half of the century. This is to be achieved through global action that aims to:

  1. Limit the global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5°C;
  2. Enhance the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change; and
  3. Make finance flows consistent with a pathway toward low GHG emissions and climate-resilient development.

Parties are invited to submit their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) reflecting climate actions and measures of countries to meet the ambitious goals.The attainment of the ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement is dependent on the successful implementation of every nation’s NDC, which details the actions that countries will undertake to address climate change – both in terms of mitigation and adaptation.

Parties to the agreement are to undertake ambitious efforts and communicate their NDCs (Art. 4.2) every five years (Art. 4.9) in accordance with relevant COP/CMA* decisions. Parties shall pursue domestic mitigation measures (Art. 2). In addition, each Party should, as appropriate, submit and update periodically an adaptation communication, (Art. 7.10) as a component of or in conjunction with other communications or documents, including a national adaptation plan, a NDC and/or a national communication. (Art. 7.11).

In order to build mutual trust and confidence and to promote effective implementation, an enhanced transparency framework for action and support is established (Art. 13.1). Each Party shall regularly provide the following information (Art. 13.7): 1) A national inventory report of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of GHGs; and, 2) Information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving its NDC. Developing country Parties should provide information on finance, technology transfer and capacity-building support needed and received (Art. 13.10).

Prior to the discussion in Paris, all Parties were invited to submit their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).  In solidarity with the international community, the Philippine Government submitted its INDC on October 1, 2015.

Pursuant to the Paris Agreement,  Parties have the option of considering their INDC submission as their first NDC. With the country’s accession to the Paris Agreement in April 2017, the Philippines also declared that the INDC is to be updated and the first NDC will be submitted to the UNFCCC before 2020.