Brazil and South Africa headline flurry of INDC submissions

Brazil and South Africa are among the latest wave of countries that have submitted their national climate action plans to the UN ahead of December's Paris Climate Summit.

Brazil has pledged to cut its emissions by 37% below 2005 levels by 2025, while South Africa has committed to peak its emissions between 2020 and 2025.

The two countries lead a surge of new Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) being submitted ahead of a 1 October deadline, when the climate pledges will be considered in a UN review. Twenty two other INDCs were submitted in the past two days alone.

One hundred countries – covering three quarters of global emissions – have now submitted INDCs, although critics warned that current pledges would only limit global warming to 3.5C.

Green powerhouse

Brazil plans to reach its 37% target by boosting renewable energy generation to 45% of total energy, ending illegal deforestation and developing its low-carbon infrastructure. It also aims to increase the share of sustainable biofuels in the Brazilian energy mix to approximately 18% by 2030, by expanding biofuel consumption.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) has welcomed Brazil’s commitment as the first time a major developing country has committed to an absolute reduction of emissions. “This is an important shift because it offers greater certainty that emissions can be cut even as Brazil’s economy expands,” said WRI Brazil director Rachel Biderman

“It’s encouraging to see Brazil focus on growing a low-carbon economy through continued investment in renewable energy. Brazil should rapidly shift away from high-carbon energy investment in line with the global efforts to slow global warming.”

However, Biderman also criticised the the country’s pledge to restore 12 million hectares of forests by 2030 as “notably weaker than what could be achieved”.

“In addition, the zero illegal deforestation goal is actually a step back from the country’s previous commitments,” she said. “Curbing emissions from agricultural lands will depend in part on greater investment in low-carbon practices.”

Policy priorities

South Africa also unveiled its INDC, although less ambitious in scope. The pledge to peak emissions between 2020 and 2025 was bound by ‘significant rigidity in the economy’, according to the submission.

“Any policy-driven transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society must take into account and emphasise its overriding priority to address poverty and inequality,” the country said.

However, the commitment was described by the WRI as the latest in an important trend of developing countries announcing when their emissions will stop climbing. 

WRI international climate director David Waskow said: “South Africa should be commended for its innovative approach to linking the level of emissions with the need for adaptation. The country is the first to concretely highlight the inseparable link between global emissions trajectories and future climate impacts in its climate plan.”

The US, China and the EU have all submitted their INDC pledges, with India the largest polluting country yet to do so.

Reports emerged earlier this week that India would submit its INDC on 2 October – Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday – one day after the UN’s deadline.

Brad Allen





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