Coastal blue carbon ecosystems. Opportunities for Nationally Determined Contributions. Policy Brief.

Coastal blue carbon ecosystems. Opportunities for Nationally Determined Contributions. Policy Brief.

This policy brief examines the existing Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and ratified National Determined Contributions (NDCs) with regard to the inclusion of specific efforts addressing blue carbon ecosystems, namely mangroves, tidal saltmarshes and seagrasses, as climate mitigation or adaptation solutions.

Prior to and during the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 163 INDCs have been submitted and 81 Parties have submitted their NDC. The INDCs are meant to outline Parties’ fair and ambitious contributions to addressing climate change and achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2 and further strengthened in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement. Amongst other infomration, Parties were requested to include information on the scope and coverage of their mitigation and adaptation efforts, as well as on methodological approaches including those for estimating and accounting for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and removals.

As part of the Paris Agreement, Parties are now committed to regularly submit revised NDCs every 5 years, with a review process that is intended to continually increase ambition (Art 4.3 and 4.9 of the Paris Agreement). For the time being, the INDCs submitted by a country prior and during COP21 will automatically count as its first NDC when the country ratifies the Paris Agreement, unless decided otherwise.

While the current NDCs are a significant contribution, the existing commitments will not reach the 2°C target necessary to combat climate change. Scientists have calculated that the NDCs collectively will lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but will still allow for a warming of 2.6–3.1 degrees Celsius by 2100. This reality is ecognized in the Paris Agreement, and this policy briefs aims to highlight the opportunity for countries to consider nature-based solutions beyond what was originally submitted, including recognizing blue carbon as an opportunity to fill this emissions gap.

This brief outlines how Parties have up until now included and addressed the management of coastal wetland (blue carbon) ecosystems in their NDC climate mitigation and adaptation solutions to date.It also offers a short outlook on areas where coastal wetlands contributions can be improved and strengthened in the future, allowing for more ambitious NDC submissions. In many coastal nations these ecosystems provide a significant mitigation and adaptation value, as a carbon sink and as coastline protection and food security, respectively. Thus, the inclusion of coastal ecosystems can be considered an important asset in a more ambitious revision of the NDC for many Parties.

This publication has been made possible in part by funding from the UNEP/GEF Blue Forests Project and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The maps have kindly been produced by GRID-Arendal / Elsa Lindevall.

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