Enhancing NDCs: opportunities in the power sector

Limiting global warming to 2 or 1.5°C requires a virtually decarbonized power sector by 2050.The world is not on track to achieve this. In 2018, while renewable energy (RE) generated ¼ of global power, coal produced 38%, and remained the largest source of electricity generation, producing 30% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. While most countries mention power in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), most do not draw on the range of solutions available to move the sector towards smooth integration of higher shares of RE, while enhancing energy efficiency to manage a projected doubling of global power demand by 2050. This guidance identifies options to transform the power sector that should be prioritized in the 2020 NDCs. Taking stock of progress in the sector since the first NDCs were developed reveals that while increasing zero-carbon energy is fundamental, increasing ambition in the power sector requires more than merely increasing RE targets. Reflecting power sector mitigation potential in the NDCs now depends on the implementation of four foundational strategies for enhanced grid flexibility, addressing existing coal assets, institutional changes, and tapping synergies between the power and end-use sectors. This guidance also proposes a structure for policy makers to assess how these foundational elements are addressed in their NDC and decide how they can fill gaps in the NDC 2020.