Writing Prompt: Purpose and Elements of Long-term Strategies

Under the Paris Agreement, Parties are invited to communicate “mid-century, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” (referred to here as long-term strategies). Countries have flexibility to formulate their plans in a manner that they see fit, within the context of their national circumstances and respective capabilities.

Seven countries—Czech Republic, Germany, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Benin, and France—have already submitted their initial long-term strategies to the UNFCCC. Naturally, each strategy is somewhat different in design and approach; however, several common themes have emerged. All strategies:

  • Provide a framework for low emissions development that allows for a flexible implementation approach
  • Highlight key areas for action
  • Demonstrate that climate, clean growth, and development are mutually beneficial objectives
  • Plan to be revisited and updated (either on an ad-hoc basis or at specified intervals) as the country advances on a low-carbon development pathway

In this expert perspective series, we ask authors:

What is the purpose of a long-term strategies? What elements should these strategies include?

In your response, please consider several underlying questions, such as:

  • What are the main objectives for developing a long-term strategy? To align short-term planning with a long-term vision? To conduct long-term planning in the context of climate risks? To inform planning and investments? To guide policy? To identify key opportunities and challenges associated with low-carbon, climate resilient development? Any others?
  • What are the most important topics/key areas that should be covered and why?
  • What items are out of the scope of a long-term strategy?
  • What are the risks and disadvantages of including certain elements in long-term strategies?
  • What are the trade-offs and how can these trade-offs best be managed? For example, level of detail, number of themes addressed, etc.
  • What is the advantage/ disadvantage of including a quantitative mid-century emission reduction target?
  • What is the impetus to develop a long-term strategy, both from a financial and political perspective?

The following list of information—all of which could be included in such strategies—may be useful as you grapple with this question. We also encourage you to think broader than this list, noting that the list is not comprehensive.

  • A long-term vision or goal:
    • A vision for 2050, which covers low-carbon and climate-resilient development
    • An economy-wide, quantitative vision for emission reductions, which considers the long-term temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, in light of national circumstances
    • Sector-specific mitigation targets and pathways
    • Key areas of action to realize the long-term goal(s)
  • Scenario development and modelling:
    • Quantitative projections supported by appropriate analytical tools
    • Policy and technology assumptions
  • Aligning with national development objectives:
    • Integration of economic development with a country’s long-term climate goals
    • Overlap/synergies with existing national development strategies/sustainable development plans/technology needs assessments
    • Policy priorities for mitigation and adaptation within the context of development
  • Aligning short-, medium-, and long-term planning:
    • Aligning long-term goals with short-term policy, planning, targets, and milestones (for example, Canada’s mid-century strategy emphasizes that long-term objectives will be ultimately realized though short-term concrete action)
    • Addressing risks such as lock-in
  • Adaptation:
    • Goals to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience, and reducing vulnerability
    • Linking national adaptation plans to the long-term strategy
  • Institutional arrangements:
    • Roles and responsibilities for implementing agencies
    • Coordination across multiple government departments
  • Resources and capacity:
    • Means to address climate change and development within the context of capacity, financial, and technological resources
    • Any gaps, to appeal to the international community
  • Stakeholder consultation
  • Processes to review and revisit the strategy