"Commitments to net zero are worth zero without the plans, policies and actions to back it up. Our world cannot afford any more greenwashing, fake movers or late movers… We must close the emissions gap before climate catastrophe closes in on us all." António Guterres
But what are NDCs and why is SRI an important feature for them?
In this blog post, we will explore:
An NDC is the climate action plan a country puts forward to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) stating the ways they will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their plans adapt to climate impacts.
NDCs were born as part of the Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015 during COP 21. This COP in Paris marked a milestone in international action and cooperation on climate change when 194 (193 States plus the European Union) out of 198 parties signed the Paris Agreement, each committing to its central aim of keeping global warming below 2°C, with a preferable target of 1.5°C.
NDCs are the foundation for meeting the Paris Agreement target. Each party must submit an NDC and update it every five years. NDCs provide a way of monitoring global progress on climate action and by assessing all the parties’ NDCs, we can determine whether we are on track to limit global warming. Explore the Climate Target Tracker here.
Sadly, not yet. The current pledges in country NDCs are not sufficient to limit warming to 2°C. Projections using the current NDCs estimate warming to be limited to around 3°C. The difference of 1 degree may not sound like much to us in our daily lives - but the smallest changes in global temperatures have enormous repercussions on the planet - reaching 3°C will have catastrophic results. See a projected scenario for three degrees of global warming here.
Each country has varying domestic capabilities and contexts for action. Some countries will therefore attach conditions to the implementation of certain contributions. For example, a country may require international support through finance, resources, capacity or knowledge to enact the action necessary. This is known as a conditional contribution. Unconditional contributions are what countries can implement based on their own resources and capacity. For example Benin have pledged to develop 22,000 ha unconditionally of rice growing areas with irrigated water control, and conditionally 30,000 ha. International finance and support is required to support Benin’s development of the 30,000 ha conditional pledge.
SRI is a practical and attractive option for rice producing countries to reduce the GHG emissions associated with rice cultivation and adapt to climate impacts. Rice cultivation is a significant source of methane emissions and is responsible for around 12% of global anthropogenic methane emissions - and around 1.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. To put this in perspective, this puts rice cultivation not far behind the global aviation industry which accounts for around 2.1% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions.
But unlike flying, cutting rice from our life is not an option. Calories, unlike flying, are a necessity to staying alive and rice provides around one fifth of all calories consumed worldwide. On top of that rice holds an enormous traditional and cultural value for billions of people.
The good news is though, we don't need to eat less rice, we just need to change the way we grow it.
Step forward, SRI.
By reducing flooded fields and chemical inputs, SRI can reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 50% or more per kilogram of rice produced and methane emissions by up to 70%. On top of that, SRI improves a farmer’s climate resilience against droughts, storms and extreme weather all while helping to produce more rice from less. Read more on the benefits of SRI here.
Currently, eleven countries include SRI in their NDCs.
SRI provides an array of benefits so each country has its own purposes for utilising SRI as a mitigation or adaptation action. SRI can support national food security, climate resilience, water conservation, biodiversity protection as well as mitigating methane emissions.
Here are some examples of what the eleven countries have pledged regarding rice and SRI in their agricultural sectors:
NDCs can vary greatly in their ambition and quantified action. To make NDCs meaningful there must be increased effort to include quantified measures with ways to monitor, report and verify the reductions. There is enormous potential in the global rice sector to greatly increase scope and ambition. The annual global mitigation potential for rice is estimated at 171 MT CO2e, however, currently only 20.6 MtCO2e is accounted for in the current NDCs (See the CCAFS Info Note here).
Major rice producing countries around the world - for example, China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Thailand, Brazil and Pakistan - could set bolder targets for their rice production and include SRI as part of their NDC pledges. It's worth noting that these countries are already using SRI without having it explicitly mentioned in their NDCs (Explore SRI locations here). However, by including SRI in national action plans this can help in multiple ways to accelerate climate action and impact. NDCs can foster collaboration between countries to achieve shared objectives as well as create incentives for non-state actors to take action on climate change. This can help to improve the ease and accessibility of SRI uptake around the world.
SRI is an attractive option to include in national agricultural policies due to its economic incentives and high environmental and social returns. Countries can improve climate resilience and food security for their nation while accelerating tangible progress in achieving global emission reduction targets.
SRI-2030's goal is to reach 50 million hectares of SRI by 2030. In doing so this can reduce net GHG emissions by 1.4Gt of CO2e by 2030 meaning by 2050 8.5Gt of CO2e can be avoided. On top of this 1 billion tons extra of rice can be produced and an additional $1.6 trillion in farmer profits.
For further information:
See the official NDC Registry here.
Read about Policy Action for SRI here.
Watch the SRI-2030 videos here on how SRI is supporting climate action.