2018 will mark the start of a new period that must pave the way for more ambitious climate action over the next decade. The first step, called the Facilitative Dialogue (FD’18), will take place next year. Then, countries will need to submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by the end of the decade. These exercises aim at providing domestic policymakers with the tools to strengthen their contribution and put their respective country on the path towards the profound low-carbon transformation agreed upon in Paris. In this context, this paper advocates adopting a broader lens—and a richer, more operational and thus more effective view of what ambition really means—to achieve this goal.


  • A credible transition towards Paris’ long-term goal of carbon neutrality in the second half of the century requires deeper emission reductions before 2030.
  • The ambition mechanism under the Paris Agreement needs to deliver on its promise to regularly increase collective ambition, or risks undermining global climate governance architecture.
  • Mid-term targets are an incomplete metric to evaluate ambition and may divert policy efforts away from the real drivers of a low-carbon transformation.
  • Ambition should be viewed as a combination of target-setting, preparedness to implement, and a capacity to sustain further reductions over time.
  • This requires taking full account of sectoral realities, developing a long-term vision and establishing a robust climate policy governance.
  • Developing national and local long-term pathways is critical for the low-carbon transition, as a process to create broad stakeholder’s ownership of a long-term vision, and to inform today’s policy decisions about their consistency with deep decarbonisation goals.
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