CAN Position on National Long-term Strategies for Sustainable Development and Decarbonization

The world is facing daunting challenges this century. The dual concerns of uplifting people from poverty and ensuring action against climate change have been at the center of global negotiations in 2015. In order to tackle these challenges, governments have agreed on the adoption of the Paris Agreement, under the UNFCCC, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Achieving these common goals will require climate policies to be developed in the context of sustainable development, and as such, the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda will be most effectively implemented if they are addressed as mutually dependent and reinforcing processes. Many national policies will contribute to the achievement of goals of both processes, so addressing them together is likely to be the most equitable and effective way of achieving these goals.

Climate change and sustainable development are unavoidably interconnected, with both able to create positive and negative feedback effects on the other. Climate change impacts will affect countries’ abilities to conduct sustainable development, and subsequently, alternative development paths will have an effect both on the likelihood of future climate change and the ability of countries to cope with its impacts. From a climate change policymaker’s perspective, the development pathway influences a country’s emissions trajectory. From the development perspective, the main considerations are vulnerability to climate change impacts and adaptation. Developing long-term strategies gives countries a framework within which to place both of these considerations. The long-term strategy sets the benchmarks for safe emissions curbs to ascertain how development should take place, while implementation of the 2030 Agenda and national development goals enables countries to know what their development should look like, within these safe climate limits. In order to successfully implement these international agreements nationally, governments will therefore have to plan with foresight to ensure the synergies between these two agreements are captured at every national policy making juncture.

In this position paper, CAN intends to articulate opportunities presented by the development of national long-term strategies for sustainable development and decarbonization for successful implementation of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The position outlines why long-term strategies are needed, provides suggestions for what they might usefully contain, and presents a proposal for when they should be developed as well as a timeline for their periodic revision.

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