What is a Long-term Strategy?

Under the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to limit the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F).     The 2018 IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C underscores the difference that a half-degree can make to the world’s ecosystems.  To have a likely chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C, the world’s top climate scientists say that global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut 45% by 2030 and reach net-zero around 2050.

Parties’ “mid-century long-term low GHG emissions development strategies” or “long-term strategies” are central to achieving the goal of limiting warming and preventing some of the worst impacts of climate change.   Long-term strategies play a key role to in the transition toward net-zero emissions and climate resilient economies. They set out long-term goals for climate and development, and direct short-term decision-making to support the necessary shifts to limit global warming and lift people out of poverty. These long-term strategies also serve as a basis for increasing ambition, including through nationally determined contributions, because they articulate a long-term vision that is achievable.

Why Are Long-Term Strategies Needed?

Ambitious long-term strategies are vital since current national climate plans (NDCs) are only sufficient enough to limit warming to 2.7-3.7 degrees C (4.9-6.7 degrees F). Not only do long-term strategies present an opportunity to bring national action in line with needed ambition, they also encourage countries to avoid costly investments in high-emissions technologies. Countries are invited to submit their long-term strategies by 2020.

WRI’s Climate Watch platform is tracking and analyzing long-term strategy submissions.

Read more: Which Countries Have Long-term Strategies to Reduce Emissions

What Are the Key Elements of Long-Term Strategies?

The scope and depth of long-term strategies will be determined by countries. Accordingly, there is no one-size-fits-all format or structure for a long-term strategy. However, some key elements of a long-term strategy could include:

  • a long-term vision;
  • sustainable development considerations;
  • mitigation elements (including a long-term quantified outcome for GHG emissions reductions and results of mitigation models and scenarios);
  • adaptation elements;
  • sectoral strategies (including policies and actions, milestones to be achieved over time, information on managing the transition to the long-term goals, among others);
  • implementation approaches;
  • and monitoring plans and revisions processes.

When these elements are considered together, countries can evaluate tradeoffs among them and ensure that all are supported in the long-term strategy.

Read More: How Long-Term Visions for Climate Can Advance the G20 Economic Agenda

What Are Key Considerations for the Development of a Long-Term Strategy?

The concept of long-term planning for climate change and development raises unique governance challenges. Ensuring buy-in and ownership of key ministries, departments, and agencies and non-governmental stakeholders over the final strategy is essential if long-term strategies are to be influential in guiding short, medium, and long-term planning and investment decisions across society to initiate an effective and just transition to a low greenhouse gas emission and resilient pathway. This will require:

Political leadership: Clear high-level mandates and vision can foster greater coordination within and across ministries. Political leadership at the highest level can help drive the strategy, build momentum and get the right stakeholders and ministries involved.

Institutional arrangements: The process of developing, and subsequently implementing, long-term strategies requires the engagement of central ministries, multiple sectoral line ministries, sub-national government, civil society, and in many countries indigenous self-governing bodies. In many cases, this will require the creation or reconsideration of existing institutional arrangements for long-term planning.

Legal frameworks: Supportive legal frameworks ensure strong coherence across government strategy and policies – to avoid expensive and conflicting policies.

Stakeholder engagement: Stakeholders can help planners and decision-makers by providing information and preferences that can build a shared vision and may become important constituencies in the implementation of the long-term strategy.

  • In addition to governance considerations, resources and some degree of capacity may be required to undertake the development of a long-term strategy; whether in terms of GHG inventory data needs, assessments to identify climate change drivers and impacts, existing policies or private sector and civil society engagement, which will undoubtedly vary and be determined from country to country.
  • Another consideration is the need to build upon existing plans and policies. This will require a consideration of how well established existing long-term planning and targets are (for example, any long-term economic planning processes that might already exist in a country), whether or not they already consider climate change mitigation and adaptation, and whether or not they are in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Read More: Climate Action for Today and Tomorrow: The Relationship between NDCs and LTSs

Sign up here if you would like to stay in touch via our monthly newsletter, event notifications and webinars focused on long-term climate and development strategies