The article “Governing through the nationally determined contribution (NDC): five functions to steer states’ climate conduct“ by Jernnäs (2023) is part of an important research effort to understand how climate governance under the Paris Agreement operates. The article succeeds in demonstrating that the adoption of the Paris Agreement did not resolve many of the long-standing differences between states, but further clarity is needed to accurately interpret its results. In this response, the author outlines five aspects to guide future research on NDCs as a governance instrument including the crucial distinction between exploring potential NDC functions based on submissions during the negotiation process and examining the actual NDC functions based on the adopted Paris rulebook and empirical observations. This response draws on participant observation at the United Nations climate change negotiations since 2015 (Leiter 2022, Langlet et al. 2023) and is further substantiated through literature on global climate change negotiations.

Timo Leiter (2023) Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) as a governance instrument – accounting for politics, negotiation progress, and related mechanisms under the Paris Agreement, Environmental Politics, DOI: 10.1080/09644016.2023.2252312

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