The Paris Agreement encourages countries to develop “mid-century, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” (long-term strategies) taking into consideration their respective capabilities (Article 4.19). The concept of long-term strategies increases the element of temporality in climate planning and the need to consider both current and future capabilities.
Developing long-term strategies in the context of capability or capacity may be considered in two ways: first, considerations of capacity to develop a long-term strategy itself such as with sufficient staff with the appropriate technical skill; and second, considerations of future capacity to implement a long-term strategy.
Additionally, these capacity considerations will impact developed and developing countries differently. For many developing countries, the development of ambitious, comprehensive and effective long-term strategies is tied to their domestic capacity-building needs. Improving the capacity and ability of developing countries to implement mitigation and adaption actions is a central pillar of the Paris Agreement and the implementation of long-term strategies will depend on how their capacity and ability improves over time. Capacity-building under the Paris Agreement should be country-driven and based on domestic needs and priorities, current and future. However, in many circumstances, it is difficult to predict or anticipate future capacity needs. For developed countries, the existing capacity and ability of a country to plan and undertake near-term mitigation and adaption actions will impact that country’s ability to design, implement and assess long-term strategies. Parties may be unwilling to set ambitious targets in their long-term strategies if they are unsure they will be able to achieve them and are responsible for their own capacity development. In the face of political or technical uncertainty even minor capacity constraints could have larger impacts when projected long-term.
For both developed and developing countries, a wide range of circumstances relate to capability and capacity in the context of long-term strategies. These include but are not limited to: technology access and availability; institutional and organizational circumstances; education systems; training programs; and political and legislative circumstances.
For this expert perspective, we ask authors to consider the following questions when writing their expert perspective (but it is not necessary to respond to all the questions):
What approaches are available to identify any future capacity needs? How can countries predict what future capacity needs might be, and at what point in the planning process should capacity considerations be taken into account when designing a long-term strategy? Complementary approaches for long-term capacity planning may be applicable and useful in developing long-term strategies, however they may include risks, uncertainties, assumptions and conditions to be managed. What resources are available to support capacity needs assessments and planning? How can capacity needs assessments be applied to long-term strategies? What is the literature saying about global future capacity needs?
How can countries set the highest level of ambition in their long-term strategies in light of their capabilities, and unknown future needs and constraints? Ambition is crucial to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, including the temperature goal of Article 2.1, and setting ambition as high as possible in Parties' long-term strategies will support the updating and enhancement of Parties' NDCs. At the same time, some countries may need to plan long-term capacity building needs alongside their long-term strategies to analyze how to overcome current and future challenges and capacity gaps and needs. Please identify any relevant trade-offs and consider how countries might best develop long-term strategies that balances ambition and capacity where goals and targets are as ambitious as possible and responsive to potential increase in capacity over time, while also considering future unknown capacity needs that may hinder achievement of ambitious long-term goals and targets. Is there a way to create long-term strategies that are both ambitious but also flexible to accommodate future uncertainties?
What are the capacity requirements for developing long-term strategies? While there will need to be a consideration of future capacity needs when designing a long-term strategy, there may also be capacities in the short-term to undertake the research, planning and drafting of a long-term strategy itself. How can countries develop quantitative scenarios if they lack modeling and analytical capacity? What types of existing planning processes, policy documents, and tools could be built on to develop a distinct long-term strategy? What are the best approaches to foster peer exchanges and share learning while in the process of developing long-term strategies?
What is the role of technology development and transfer in building capacity in the context of long-term strategies? Technology, both existing and future, will play a role in developing long-term strategies and technology choices in long-term planning will have varying degrees of influence on capacity to implement and deliver on targets. Existing technologies can be expanded and distributed across geographies, and new technologies may tackle unaddressed challenges. Countries currently have varying degrees of access to and capacity related to climate technology. How do issues of technology and capacity intersect when designing long-term strategies?
Should long-term strategies outline specific technology and capacity needs? Should countries note any specific capacity needs in their long-term strategies themselves? Can long-term strategies be used as a tool to draw targeted support for implementation, enhancing capacity and/or technology development and transfer?