Low-Emission Development Strategies and Plans (LEDS)

Low-Emission Development Strategies and Plans give Parties the extraordinary chance to formulate integrated, consistent strategies on climate change mitigation and provide long-sighted guidance for daily policy decisions. Therefore, the 2010 Cancún Agreements recognise that „a low-carbon development strategy is indispensable to sustainable development” (Decision 1/CP.16, Para. 6).

Based on the broad obligations of Art. 4.1.b UNFCCC for all countries to formulate programmes on climate change mitigation, the notion of LEDS has been mentioned by the Parties in Copenhagen and Cancún. The Copenhagen Accord refers to “a low-emission development strategy” (Draft Decision -/CP.15, Para. 2). In more detail, the Cancún Agreements stipulate that developed countries should draft LEDS and developing countries are encouraged to do the same (Decision 1/CP.16, Para.s 45 and 65).

However, there is no internationally agreed definition of LEDS. The OECD has loosely described LEDS as “forward-looking national development plans or strategies that encompass low-emission and/or climate-resilient economic growth”. Typically, LEDS comprise most or all of the following elements:

  • A compilation of emissions data and projections
  • Economy-wide, broad long-term mitigation goals (in the range of 15 to 30 years)
  • A survey of cost-efficient mitigation options and their prioritisation
  • The stipulation of concrete short- and mid-term mitigation actions

Often, LEDS additionally link climate change mitigation to adaptation policies. In every case, LEDS are characterised by a strong focus on economic and social development in accordance with low-carbon growth principles.

Adequately tailored to national needs and circumstances, LEDS can pave the way towards low-carbon, climate resilient and sustainable growth. As their value is increasingly recognised, states all around the world are currently drafting LEDS or have recently enacted such plans. The task being highly complex, it is very important for policy-makers to have access to lessons learnt and best practice examples and to exchange experiences with peers. However, it remains difficult for practitioners to access the steadily increasing pool of national experiences. The Partnership’s activities, including the inventory of LEDS activities, open up new opportunities by granting an overview over relevant activities taking place now and during the past few years in both developed and developing countries.

Read more about LEDS:

GIZ (2013): Factsheet Low-Emission Development Strategy (LEDS)
OECD (2010): Low-Emission Development Strategies (LEDS): Technical, Institutional and Policy Lessons
Climate Works/ECF (2009): Low Carbon Growth Plans. Advancing Good Practice

ESMAP (2009): Low-Carbon Growth Country Studies: Getting Started.
UNDP (2011): Preparing Low-Emission Climate-Resilient Development Strategies (Executive Summary)

See projects and initiatives working on LEDS in our project section.

See more documents, papers and tools on LEDS in our resources section.

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