The LTS Hub presents recently published work by NewClimate Institute on the development of LTSs under the Paris Agreement. The seven content tabs below contribute to answer the following guiding questions when developing an LTS in 2020 or thereafter:
More information on the following inputs available in Chapter 3 (Development of LTSs) of the ‘NDC Update Report 2019 – Long-term, society-wide visions for immediate action’.
The Paris Agreement calls for “long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” (LTSs) but gives little guidance beyond that. Few of these LTSs have been developed so far, and there seems to be a lack of common understanding of what the scope and format of an LTS should be.
We propose that LTS encompass eight key elements relating to both the content, and the process of developing an LTS. The eight elements are identified and discussed based on the following literature: CAN Europe (2018), Cox (2019), Ecologic Institute (2017), Levin et al. (2018), Waisman et al. (2019), Williams and Waisman (2017), the World Bank and Ecofys (2019) and WRI (2019) (see Tab 7).
More information on the following inputs is available in Chapter 2 (LTS development under country-specific circumstances) of the guide on ‘Making long-term low GHG emissions development strategies (LTSs) a reality – A guide to policy makers on how to develop an LTS for submission in 2020 and future revision cycles developed’ and in Chapter 4 (Alignment of LTSs in the context of the Paris Agreement) of the ‘NDC Update Report 2019 – Long-term, society-wide visions for immediate action’.
While the Paris Agreement and the Katowice Rulebook invite Parties to communicate an LTS to the UNFCCC by 2020, they do not clearly specify whether Parties should update their long-term commitments over time. A one-time submission in 2020 without further revision, however, would dismiss the idea to make an LTS an ongoing visioning exercise informed by latest science as part of continuous planning process in a country over time.
The five-year revision cycles for Parties to submit their NDCs to the UNFCCC provide an opportunity to improve the alignment of countries’ long-term visions (LTSs) with their medium-term targets (NDCs). This way, policy makers can ensure that a country’s long-term vision informs the NDC target setting for the medium-term. Without ensuring such consistency, LTSs run the risk of not being adequately mainstreamed into policy and implementation planning. The figure below provides a basic concept on how NDC revision cycles can be informed by the long-term vision over the course of the next ten years.
The timeline for submission of updated NDCs and the first submissions of LTSs in 2020 gives policy makers an opportunity to use their LTSs to inform their updated medium-term targets. However, current climate policy planning processes at the national level for 2020 do not often account for such alignment between NDCs and LTSs. In many country contexts, the development of LTSs simply will not happen in time to inform the NDC target setting in 2020. For this reason, some updated NDCs may not be informed by upcoming LTSs in 2020.
Looking ahead to future revision cycles beyond 2020, policy makers can proactively steer climate policy planning processes – both at the national and sectoral level – to align NDC revisions mandated by the Paris Agreement with updates to the country’s long-term vision outlined in the LTS. For example, policy makers could align processes in a way that LTSs will be updated in regular five-year intervals to inform future NDC submissions.
Comparing trajectories that represent the highest possible ambition with current policy or commitment pathways, reveals a gap that can only be closed with additional technical and financial resources (represented by dark blue and red lines respectively in the diagram below). While this gap may seem daunting if viewed as a one-off exercise, more can be done with a more efficient use of resources, if long term-planning is approached as a recurring iterative process (red dotted vertical lines). A long-term planning process can include regular short-term planning cycles, informed by long-term objectives, as described in the previous section. In that way, regular NDC or national climate action planning cycles could provide an opportunity to regularly reassess current policy pathways, and new developments which may affect the range of possible ambition (light blue line).
The regular reassessment of these pathways may reveal that it is possible to achieve deeper emission reductions than what might have been previously anticipated from the resources invested in the previous period (yellow line). This can occur, for example, when tipping points for mass diffusion of transformational technologies and practices are reached, and through the resulting spill-over effects of progress between countries.
Technology development is a largely global process; while technological spill-over is context dependent, most solutions are relevant beyond the contexts in which they were originally designed. In turn this means that a few actors can initiate change well beyond their original jurisdiction. This can be observed for renewable energy development, where a few countries have initiated a global trend, but also recently for electric vehicles, where the support of a few jurisdictions such as Norway, China or California have reduced the technical and financial resources needed in second mover countries such as Germany (“reduced financing need” in the figure above).
An ongoing iterative process to climate change mitigation planning can help ensure improved alignment with the long-term goals under the Paris Agreement. While there is considerable risk that the trajectories most countries initially identify as their highest possible ambition pathways are not fully Paris compatible, consecutive adjustments of the pathway can close this gap. This logic also demonstrates the importance and attractiveness of early action, since increasing the level of resources invested at an early stage can allow for readjustment of trajectories in a way that significantly reduces resource requirements to move towards the long-term objectives in the future.
More information on the following inputs available in Chapter 2 (LTS development under country-specific circumstances) of the guide on ‘Making long-term low GHG emissions development strategies (LTSs) a reality – A guide to policy makers on how to develop an LTS for submission in 2020 and future revision cycles developed’.
The typology introduced in this section aims to acknowledge and account for the different starting points of countries to develop their LTS in 2020. The country-specific starting points can differ both in available human and financial resources to develop an LTS as well as in political leadership and experience in reaching consensus for long-term visions. In this context, the figure below outlines the rationale for three interlinked LTS types, building upon one another: a base version, an intermediate version, and a detailed version. While some countries might opt for a base version for submission to the UNFCCC in 2020 or shortly thereafter, they can explicitly communicate support needs to the international community in order to submit a more substantiated version in future revision cycles.
An increasing body of recently published literature identifies key aspects that countries can consider when conceptualising and developing their LTSs in 2020 or thereafter. While most authors acknowledge the relevance of certain aspects in the elaboration of a country’s long-term vision, no common understanding currently exists on how countries can take up these aspects in their LTSs.
The table below presents a differentiated approach on how policy makers can address each aspect considering their country’s situation. Policy makers have full flexibility to customise this approach to country-specific circumstances, for example by choosing a suitable level of detail for each listed aspect.
More information on the following inputs available in Chapter 2.3.2 (Theoretical long-term scenario analysis) and the Annex of the guide on ‘Making long-term low GHG emissions development strategies (LTSs) a reality – A guide to policy makers on how to develop an LTS for submission in 2020 and future revision cycles developed’.
Long-term scenario analysis on GHG emission pathways until 2050 can provide a theoretical underpinning to inform a country’s long-term vision. Policy makers can use this scenario analysis to set a vision for achieving full decarbonisation across all sectors and perform analysis to evaluate whether the vision is compatible with the Paris Agreement’s temperature limit. The analysis can also directly inform the GHG and non-GHG target setting in line with developed scenarios.
The figure below illustrates in a stylised manner how a country can develop long-term scenario pathways in 2020 and subsequently update these before 2025, in time to inform the next NDC review and revision cycle of 2025. A subsequent update could then take place before 2030 to inform the NDC review and revision cycle of 2030 (not displayed in this figure).
More information on the following inputs available in Chapter 4 (Alignment of LTSs in the context of the Paris Agreement) of the ‘NDC Update Report December 2019 – Long-term, society-wide visions for immediate action’.
When considering the suitability of different approaches as analytical inputs, it is important to note that the determination of a country’s highest possible ambition level will depend on global as well as national considerations. As no country functions in isolation, global technology trends play an important role in determining what is possible. These technology trends need to be considered in the national context. This can play out very differently in countries depending on the extent of lock-in to existing infrastructure, domestic market readiness, cultural norms and institutional capacities. This underlines the importance of a broad participatory national process.
While transformative technologies may be more mature and available in some sectors than others, it is important that the planning process includes a sufficiently broad sector coverage to ensure that the highest possible ambition can be achieved with the most efficient use of resources. The oversight of potential levers in some sectors could lead to higher overall costs.
Determining the highest possible level of ambition is therefore a carefully designed process in which national processes make best possible use of the latest available insights from both bottom-up and top-down analytical approaches. The relative strengths and weaknesses of these approaches as an analytical input to a national-driven process for determining highest possible ambition are summarised in the table below.
More information on the following inputs available in Chapter 5 (Overview of submitted LTS and Highlights) of the ‘NDC Update Report December 2019 – Long-term, society-wide visions for immediate action’.
We reviewed all 14 LTS that had been submitted by December 2019 considering the aspects highlighted above. While the content and process seem to vary greatly, common highlights can be seen for certain key elements. Stakeholder engagement and participatory processes are a key element of LTSs, most LTSs link to or plan the elaboration of national plans and regulations, a majority of countries present their LTS as “living documents” and although there are discrepancies in the understanding of Paris Aligned pathways, we see positive developments in countries aiming for net-zero emissions.
The UK’s LTS is based on existing legislation such as the Climate Change Act (2008), which commits the UK government by law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In parallel to the LTS, the 80% reduction target by 2050 was amended in June 2019 to “at least 100% of 1990 levels (net zero) by 2050”.
The Act includes the setting of sectoral carbon budgets to be revised by the Secretary of State every four years. It is noteworthy to mention that while the long-term mitigation target was amended, the carbon budgets are still based on the previous target of an 80% reduction. The Act led to non-GHG targets, most notably UK’s coal phase-out by October 2014.
Portugal’s LTS acknowledges the latest science and references the Paris Agreement temperature limit and the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C, which both frame the need for full decarbonisation by 2050. The economy-wide scenarios behind the LTS were developed in iterative phases gathering contributions from and peer-reviewing of various national institutions and experts, for instance through technical workshops on assumptions and trends.
The process resulted in three comprehensive scenarios encompassing all sectors, tailored to country-specific circumstances and based on robust methodologies (e.g. 2006 IPCC guidelines) and models (e.g. the TIMES_PT optimisation model for the energy sector or GEM-E3_PT, a dynamic, general equilibrium recursive model aggregating all sectors across the economy). In a final step, a draft of the LTS underwent a three months consultation process to engage stakeholders in a series of events and to gather feedback.
The LTSs of Ukraine, the Republic of Marshall Islands and France all include statements of intentions to review and revise their LTSs at least every five years. The proposed frequency of updates in five-year intervals corresponds to the NDC revision cycles mandated by the Paris Agreement. The Czech Republic’s LTS explicitly aims to (re-)evaluate its long-term vision by the end of 2021 to publish a revised LTS by the end of 2023.
Fiji’s LTS builds onto existing mitigation and adaptation actions that are being undertaken by the Fijian government. Furthermore, the LTS is seen as a “a key tool, a guiding light, and a fundamental pillar” to inform, enhance and raise ambition of future NDCs. The LTS provides emission targets in five-year intervals between 2020 and 2050 in all scenarios developed in the LTS process. A key pillar of Fiji’s LTS is to reflect on immediate, short-, medium- and long-term priority actions informed by long-term pathway scenarios. The LTS sets “both economy-wide and sector-specific development targets” linked to Fiji’s NDC, which spans from 2017 to 2036 (see Table 2 of the LTS).
The LTS’s annex provides a long list of policy actions by sector. For each policy action, the LTS provides an implementation timeframe, a main implementing institution, an approximation of finance required and the long-term scenario the policy related to. A further step would be to settle on a long-term scenario and develop actionable immediate, short- and medium-term policies.