Aligning the NDC With LT-Leds and Net Zero Goals

About This Opportunity

A Long-Term Strategy (LTS), or Long-Term Low-Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS), is a comprehensive plan developed by a country to achieve sustainable, low GHG emissions development over the long term. These strategies provide a roadmap for transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy while promoting social equity and economic growth. LT-LEDS commonly aim for a net zero 2050 target, aligning with paragraph 27 of the first GST outcome: “Also recognizes that limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot requires deep, rapid and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions of 43 per cent by 2030 and 60 per cent by 2035 relative to the 2019 level and reaching net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050”. 

According to Article 4, paragraph 19 of the Paris Agreement, countries should strive to formulate and communicate an LT-LEDS to the UNFCCC. In doing so, countries should be mindful of Article 2, which considers common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in light of different national circumstances.

Reflecting the Global Stocktake

The importance of aligning NDCs with LT-LEDS is highlighted in the first Global Stocktake (GST) outcomes. The GST:

  • “Notes the importance of aligning nationally determined contributions with long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies, and encourages Parties to align their next nationally determined contributions with long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies”
  • “Urges Parties that have not yet done so and invites all other Parties to communicate or revise, by the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (November 2024), their long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies referred to in Article 4, paragraph 19, of the Paris Agreement towards just transitions to net zero emissions by or around mid-century, taking into account different national circumstances.”

Why aligning NDCs with LT-NEDS is important

Consistency and Coherence:

LT-LEDS provides a long-term vision for transitioning to a low-emission, climate-resilient future. Aligning NDCs with these Long-Term Strategies ensures consistency and coherence in climate policies and actions over time. This alignment helps governments avoid making short-term decisions that could conflict with longer-term goals and ensures that NDCs contribute to achieving the broader objectives outlined in LT-LEDS. Alignment between strategies also supports a common analytical base (see “Route: Technically Sound and Transparent Documents”). For example, harmonizing the modeling of medium-term and long-term climate strategies helps create a transparent and coherent trajectory that illustrates progress over time. This integration ensures that the NDCs and LT-LEDS align with each other and provide a clear, continuous path toward climate goals. Coherent modeling facilitates the assessment of current actions against long-term objectives, allowing for timely adjustments and reinforcing policy continuity. It also enhances transparency by providing stakeholders, including International Partners and country stakeholders, with a clear understanding of how immediate actions fit into the broader, long-term climate strategy. This approach supports evidence-based policy-making and helps maintain trust in the government’s commitment to meeting its climate targets.

Policy Integration:

Given that LT-LEDS often cover multiple sectors of the economy, leveraging Long-Term Sectoral Strategies/plans in the NDC preparation can help facilitate coordination among different government ministries, agencies, and broader stakeholders to address the interconnected challenges of climate change effectively. Synergistic strategy development can maximize alignment and increase the effectiveness of climate actions by ensuring that strategies across different time horizons complement and reinforce each other rather than conflict or overlap inefficiently.

Enhanced Ambition:

Where the LT-LEDS sets a net zero target, aligning the NDC with LT-LEDS may encourage enhanced ambition in the NDC targets and can also improve alignment with a 1.5oC-compatible emissions trajectory (see “Opportunity: Ensuring the NDC is Informed by Science”).

Investment Certainty:

Investors and financiers seek certainty and stability in policy frameworks to make long-term investment decisions. Aligning NDCs with LT-LEDS and implementing domestic policies toward the achievement of targets contained in both provide clarity on the direction of climate policy, signaling to investors that the country is committed to a low-emission, climate-resilient development pathway. This can attract investment, which, in turn, can support the successful implementation of the NDC.

However, it is important to note that alignment with the LT-LEDS is effective only where the LT-LEDS is also aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Opportunity: Ensuring the NDC is Informed by Science contains strategies for ensuring the NDC is aligned to the goals of the Paris Agreement, lessons from which could also be applied to the LT-LEDS. Many of the strategies presented here could also be applied to align the NDC with other national development plans. For more information, see “Opportunity: Mainstreaming the NDC in National Planning Processes.”

The following strategies could help to implement this Opportunity:

Including long-term targets in the NDC:

When fully aligned, a country may treat its NDC target as an interim milestone in delivering its long-term target, as contained in its LT-LEDS. Therefore, by including information on its long-term target in its NDC, a country can demonstrate this alignment and communicate to stakeholders how the NDC target will put the country on the right path to deliver its long-term target. This can improve understanding and ownership of the NDC and LT-LEDS and increase understanding of the short-term steps needed to achieve longer-term goals.

Aligning NDC and LT-LEDS emission trajectories:

In addition to supporting policy coherence, aligning the analysis/modeling used to inform the NDC and LT-LEDS targets can reduce the burden on countries to produce these technical analyses, as it promotes efficiencies and supports a singular data process. There are many critical components of future emissions modeling that a country can seek to align including the base year, the base year inventory or energy balance used as a starting point for projections, growth assumptions, current and existing plans and measures reflected, and future mitigation assumptions (e.g., grid decarbonization pathway, rate of uptake of technologies). Data and emissions modeling considerations for NDCs are discussed further under “Route: Technically Sound and Transparent Documents.” It can also be helpful for countries to use the same modeling tool and approach for their NDC and LT-LEDS, ensuring that the technical skills gained through developing one document can support the other. Again, this also promotes efficiencies and reduces the burden on countries (e.g., staff no longer need to be trained on multiple tools). It is important to note, though, that not all Parties have trajectories of emissions of NDCs because some are single-year (SY) NDCs. Such countries may wish to explore moving towards a multi-year (MY) NDC and modeling emissions trajectories to this effect.

Aligning with “a just transition to net zero”:

As development strategies that go further than just climate considerations, many LT-LEDS prominently feature broader development goals such as poverty reduction, energy security, green jobs, and gender equality, alongside emissions reduction and climate adaptation goals/targets. These considerations are often reflected through a “long-term vision.” Integrating the LT-LEDS vision and/or just and equitable transition considerations into the NDC ensures that the long-term vision of a country also influences short-term planning. This helps support mitigation (and adaptation) efforts that benefit society, improving buy-in for both the NDC and LT-LEDS. This, in turn, supports successful implementation. A crucial part of understanding societal needs concerning a just transition ensuring they are adequately addressed/reflected in the NDC) is stakeholder engagement – see “Route: Mobilizes All-of-Government and All-of-Society” and “Route: Delivers a Just and Equitable Transition.”

Aligning short-term actions with long-term goals:

This ensures NDCs are aligned with longer-term targets contained in LT-LEDS and can help prevent stranded assets and investments by ensuring actions taken now are not misaligned with longer-term needs; the long lifetime of many carbon-intensive assets and infrastructure achieves long-term climate goals difficult without early consideration of these challenges. Incorporating development aspects of LT-LEDS into NDCs can also help align the NDC with the national development vision. A key challenge for extending NDC mitigation efforts towards a longer time frame is the difficulty many countries have in planning for periods that extend longer than government terms. Establishing institutional frameworks for long-term planning can help overcome this challenge – see “Route: Mobilizes All-of-Government and All-of-Society.” Assessing technology needs for long-term goals and incorporating these into the NDC can also support strong alignment between the NDC and LT-LEDS – technology needs and the Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) process are detailed under “Route: Technology and Capacity-Building as Needs and Enablers.”

Aligning stakeholder engagement activities and governance mechanisms:

Common working groups and engagement mechanisms for the NDC and LT-LEDS facilitate alignment between the two documents regarding objectives, methodologies, assumptions, and data utilization. Countries may also wish to ensure that the governance set-up for both processes is aligned from the outset and organized to allow the relevant institutions to formulate, implement, and monitor short-term and long-term goals concurrently and mainstream them into relevant national plans. This helps foster synergy between the shorter-term planning of the NDC and the long-term vision of the LT-LEDS. See Route: Mobilizes All-of-Government and All-of-Society for more information and guidance on governance mechanisms and stakeholder engagement.

Providing information on how the NDC is aligned with the LT-LEDS:

There is a range of ways in which the NDC can be aligned with the LT-LEDS, and countries may wish to provide information on how they have leveraged any of the above strategies. Providing this information improves the transparency of both the NDC and LT-LEDS-LT-LEDS.  See “Route: Technically Sound and Transparent Documents”, which can help attract investment. See also “Route: Unlocks Finance”.

Country Examples

Singapore’s NDC includes long-term targets. It explicitly mentions the country’s 2050 net zero target alongside a statement of its 2030 target as evidence of how the NDC contributes towards global mitigation objectives. (Source: “Singapore’s Second Update of its First Nationally Determined Contribution”, UNFCCC).

Costa Rica’s LT-LEDS, called the “National Decarbonization Plan to 2050”, aligns with “a just transition to net zero”. It explicitly states that it has been aligned with the NDC: “The planning and elaboration process of the Decarbonization Plan will thus immediately contribute to the elaboration of the key milestones in the National Development and Public Investments Plan (PNDIP 2018-2022) that have to be implemented during this four-year period. This exercise has allowed an alignment with and improvement of the consistency of the PNDIP and the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).” (Source: “National Decarbonization Plan – Government of Costa Rica 2018-2050”, UNFCCC).

Uganda explicitly aligned its short-term LT-LEDS and long-term NDC processes, with the NDC stating that: “The NDC update process was conducted simultaneously with the formulation of the Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy (LTS) to ensure the alignment of long-term climate change strategies with short and medium-term climate actions to represent Uganda’s contribution and the fair share of domestic effort to transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy in the near future”. Note that the LT-LEDS is yet to be published. (Source: “The Republic of Uganda Updated Nationally Determined Contribution”, UNFCCC).

Further Resources

The following guidance and tools can provide further support for LT-LEDS alignment in the NDCs:

Making Long-Term Low GHG Emissions Development Strategies a Reality (GIZ, 2020)
This report provides guidance on critical steps in the LT-LEDS process, including setting ambitious emission reduction targets, integrating climate considerations into national development planning, engaging stakeholders, and mobilizing finance. The report highlights links to NDCs throughout and includes information on how NDC revision cycles can be informed by long-term visions contained in the LT-LEDS and the benefits of doing so.

Aligning short-Term Climate Action with Long-Term Climate Goals (OECD, 2020)
This paper considers opportunities and options for enhancing alignment between the NDCs and LTSs, highlighting that the LTSs can substantially shape countries’ short- and mid-term priorities, policies, and investment pipelines, leading to significant cost reductions in the long term.

Aligning Short-Term Land Sector Actions With Long-Term Climate Goals(UNDP, 2023)
This guidance aims to support governments in identifying and implementing feasible, short-term actions in the land sector that simultaneously contribute to short-term and long-term climate mitigation goals. It highlights a series of governance, technical, financial, and institutional actions that can be taken by governments in the short term to enable the effective implementation of NDCs.

Planning for a Net-Zero Future: Guidance on how to develop a Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS)   (UNDP, 2024)
This document offers practical, concise, step-by-step guidance on LT-LEDS, including considerations relevant to NDCs.

2050 Pathways – A Handbook (2050 Pathways Platform, 2017)
This technical paper presents guidance on how to conduct 2050 pathways analyses. It suggests criteria, principles, and building blocks for the successful development of pathways and selected illustrations.

How This Links to Other Routes

Aligning the NDC with LT-LEDS has benefits spanning multiple “Routes.” Some critical linkages include the following. Navigate to these to read more:

Route: Aligned to Paris Agreement Global Goal on Adaptation

LT-LEDS often incorporate adaptation as well as mitigation. Aligning the NDC and LT-LEDS can ensure long-term adaptation goals are also considered in the NDC..

Route: Delivers a Just and Equitable Transition

LT-LEDS often incorporate just transition considerations. Ensuring these priorities are reflected in the NDC supports a common/consistent goal, which can aid successful implementation.

Route: Mobilizes All-Of-Government and All-Of-Society

The Whole-of-Government and Whole-of-Society approaches help ensure buy-in and consideration of all voices for both LT-LEDS and NDCs. The processes for this can be aligned, which aids in consistency and reduces the burden.

Route: Technology and Capacity-Building as Needs and Enablers

LT-LEDS often consider the needs associated with achieving the long-term vision. Reflecting these needs in the NDC can help ensure they contribute to longer-term goals.

Route: Technically Sound and Transparent Documents

LT-LEDS and NDCs require a sound evidence base, which can be aligned or built upon for consistency and improved efficiency in their development, implementation, and tracking.

Route: Unlocks Finance

Alignment between different plans and strategies can indicate clear policy direction to potential investors.

Support Opportunities

Support is available to countries to apply the learning from the navigator and develop ambitious NDCs 3.0.

Share Additional Resources

Contribute new guidance, tools and strategies to be reflected in the NDC 3.0.