Completing the Paris Ambition Mechanism in Glasgow


Key Message for Policy Makers

The Current Situation

The ‘Ambition Mechanism’ of the Paris Agreement is currently given by two interlocking five-year cycles:

  • A communication cycle: All Parties must communicate a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) every five years (Art. 4.9).
  • A ‘Global Stocktake’ review cycle: To take stock of the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and to assess the collective progress towards achieving its purpose (Art.14.1).

The Challenges


At present, there are NDCs ending in (“with a time frame up to”) 2025 and others in 2030. Not having the same end-years makes global accounting very difficult, if not impossible. This applies not only to the Global Stocktake, with its backwards review of the state of implementation and its forward assessment of the collective ambition, but also to issues such as the avoidance of double counting in global emission trading (Art.6).

Enhancing Ambition

There are currently no instructions in the Paris Agreement and its rulebook about reconsidering the level of ambition of one’s NDCs once they have been communicated, other than an acknowledgment that Parties can enhance the level of ambition, if they wish to do so (Art.4.11)

This is sub-optimal because Parties are unlikely to ‘spontaneously’ enhance the ambition of their previously communicated NDCs on their own – or at least not as much as they would be willing and able to in coordination with their international partners and competitors, and such a coordinated ambition enhancement requires an advance notification of the initially proposed levels of ambition

The Solution

Addressing these challenges requires:

  • a single universal Common Time Frame, i.e. simultaneous end years for all NDCs;
  • a sufficient advance notification of NDCs;
  • a timetable for regular consideration of enhancing the level of ambition of previously communicated NDCs.

The Glasgow Ambition Cycle

All this can be provided by adopting the following very simple Decision – to complete the Ambition Mechanism of the Paris Agreement in Glasgow: The CMA

  • requests Parties to communicate by 2025 a nationally determined contribution with a time frame up to 2035, and to do so every five years thereafter;
  • also requests Parties to consider in 2025 updating/adjusting their existing nationally determined contributions with a view to enhancing levels of ambition, and to do so every five years thereafter.

A more comprehensive version of this decision text is provided in the GAC blog:

This post is taken from a Technical Paper produced by OCP/ecbi for the Alliance of Small Island States.

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