LCDSs: Why Everyone Needs Them

In Cancun, 1.CP/16 paras 45 and 65 respectively stated that developed country Parties “should” develop low-carbon development strategies and plans, and developing countries “were encouraged” to work on such strategies and plans. In Durban, both groups were invited to submit progress towards the formulation of their LCDSs during this year’s workshops. ECO is disappointed that LCDSs were not a strong part of the 1(b)(i) and 1(b)(ii) workshops on Sunday – especially since such plans help fulfil the Convention’s Article 4.1b mandate, respecting “specific national…development priorities, objectives and circumstances”. Although some nations have prepared them or their equivalent, Parties should actually make a strong effort to do this national climate planning, since such plans can cater to the diverse interests, and here is why:

Developed countries: invest in future-proof infrastructure and avoid lock-in

Developed countries need to have achieved near-complete decarbonisation of their economies by 2050. This is not going to happen unless firm foundations are laid now through a vision of the kind of economy, society and environment they are aiming for in the long term, and working backwards to realise this vision. This is not simply a question of technology and infrastructure changes, but also the way to create a just transition for society as the changes are made. This will help reduce social disruptions, especially for those working in sectors that need to be phased down or out. Additionally, detailed decarbonisation pathways studies, such as WWF’s “Blueprint Germany”, have demonstrated that there is very little space to make decisions on development in such countries that is not low-carbon. Investments in old and dirty technology and infrastructure mean lock-in; future replacement of such infrastructure will increase costs considerably – and lock in the costs of climate impacts. While “flexibility” and market mechanisms have their place, they tend to drive away the transformational changes needed in all developed countries’ economies. 

Developing countries: leapfrog to clean and climate-resilient development

Developing countries already undertake considerable national planning, and many are already working on low-carbon and climate resilient development plans. These plans can assist developing countries in making their development truly sustainable, while avoiding lock-in to a carbon intensive development path that will cost more in the future to readjust away from. Therefore, adequate financial and capacity building support should be allocated as soon as possible for the development and achievement of these strategies. ECO notes that the countries that were first off the mark in having the infrastructure for CDM projects were the ones that attracted more investors, and attracted investment earlier. This is another reason to start planning!

OPEC countries: LCDSs can ensure economic diversification

OPEC countries have a special reason for why they should be pushing for LCDSs. Through the formulation of their strategy, they can show how they plan to diversify their economies into low-emission economies and indicate the support required to do so (such as technology transfer). One study indicates that economic diversification is especially difficult (though no less necessary) for fossil fuel-dependent economies. So, having long-term plans (rather than, say, Saudi Arabia’s current 5-year development planning) provides opportunities for developing clear visions of what diversification might be nationally appropriate, and also to better engage other countries and entities in cooperative partnerships.

Doha should produce two decisions on LCDSs.

1) For developed countries we need an LCA decision mandating:

-          A 2050 decarbonisation goal for near-complete (>95%) decarbonisation

-          Indicative decadal goals for 2030 and 2040 that set out a realistic trajectory for achieving the 2050 goal

-          The policies and measures that the Party shall implement to fulfil its QELRO (you too, US and Canada!)

-          The first report should be submitted with the Annex I National Communications in 2014, subsequent reports paired with subsequent National Communications

2) The decision on voluntary, developing country LCDSs should include:

-          An outline trajectory for the country’s pathway to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, linking development and climate goals to achieve sustainability and equity

-          A set of NAMAs that will contribute to this trajectory

-          Address key issues of climate resilience, including food and water security

-          Start to identify needed finance, technology and capacity building