UN launches website for countries to submit their contributions to Paris COP treaty

Nations can upload their draft plans – known as “intended nationally determined contributions” – onto a website launched by the UN’s climate body on Thursday.

These will set out how governments plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, forming the backbone of a deal due to be signed off in Paris in December.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres stressed the importance of being able to adopt clear goals in the new agreement. “If we don’t start this ball rolling we won’t get to a destination… but we need to know where we are going,” she said. “When I get in my bike or my car…I usually know where I am going.”

So far, no countries have uploaded their contributions onto the site, but time is tight. Those who are “ready to do so” must present their strategies by the end of March. This is expected to include all major economies.

The idea is that each submission should be comparable, with each country bound to provide the same set of information.

Countries decided that this information should include time frames, the method of counting emissions and justification for why the proposal is fair and ambitious. They may also choose to describe how they plan to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The UN will prepare a report by 1 November outlining whether the contributions it receives are enough to keep global temperature rise below an internationally agreed threshold of 2C.

The EU is expected to base its contribution on a domestic pledge to reduce emissions “at least” 40% on 1990 levels by 2030. The US has said it will reduce emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, and China says it will peak its emissions by 2030.

All nations will have to write up their pledges in the knowledge that climate change is expected to get worse unless drastic action is taken to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon encouraged countries to come forward quickly with their contributions. He said: “I encourage all of you to offer new commitments and a race to the top. Show the world it’s not just the right thing to do, but also a smart choice.”