Why a dedicated closer look at the NDCs from a food and land perspective, and why now?
NDCs are the center of the global climate agenda, but they are also critically relevant to assess countries’ commitments, plans and understanding of food and land use related aspects of the climate crisis.
Following the submission of NDCs in 2021, the past year was the last opportunity to raise ambition and specify action for this critical decade to 2030. While only few countries had revisited their NDCs and 2030 targets as requested by the Glasgow Climate Compact, there is now more than a critical mass of nationally-generated documents and associated processes which together give valuable insights – with implications for the action needed going forward. There is growing recognition, reinforced by the 2022 reports by the IPCC, that the transition to a low carbon future must happen in this ongoing decade in order to meet the 2 or even 1.5 degree long-term goal of the Paris Agreement. Food and land use systems are responsible for roughly a third of global net greenhouse gas emissions, but to date have not received adequate attention from national policymakers. NDCs are indeed an important mechanism to set national targets, outline the actions needed in-country, and guide progress in this sector.
Seven years on from the Paris Agreement, the world is still dangerously off track, in a geopolitical context that has become even more challenging since COP26 concluded 1 year ago. While some areas and sectors are making rapid progress on the road to decarbonisation, including energy and transport, few countries have recognized – or taken actively into account – the need and opportunities of food and land use transformation.
- Many NDCs mention food and land use, but commitments are not always linked to concrete policies or even (sectoral) targets.
- While agriculture, nature and oceans feature well across NDCs, concrete actions for critical transitions around diets, food loss and waste and local food economies are often missing.
- Aspects of critical relevance for policy follow up and effective operationalization within respective national contexts, including information on financing, institutional arrangements, (land use) planning and technologies is often missing.
That said, the updated review of NDCs also reveals substantial progress and improvements, and a wide range of notable examples in the NDCs for how countries are already or planning to take action. COP27 is a critical moment for collective climate action, but implementation and delivery of commitments needs to happen in countries and across sectors. Most importantly, all countries need to put in place dedicated processes to translate national commitments into focused strategies and practical plans, policies and programmes. The evidence confirmed by the IPCC is clear:
- Without action on food and land use now, there will be no net zero by mid-century.
- Independent of NDCs and UN timetables, all countries need to identify what they can do as part of their national strategy development and implementation mechanisms.
- Agreements and delivery of international financing for both practical mitigation and adaptation measure will be a critical factor. The transformation of global and national food and land use systems cannot be postponed to the next decade.
This analysis was conducted as part of the important work of the Food and Land Use Coalition. FOLU’s broader work and related information can be accessed on the FOLU website.