Introduction to Framework

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“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.”

—Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5)

The primary purpose of this framework is to support the creation of country-driven, analytically rigorous low emission development strategies (LEDS). LEDS will enable countries to transition to low carbon economic development resulting in sustained growth in employment and investment, increased financial flows through carbon markets, reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and other social, economic, and environmental benefits. A rigorous LEDS framework enables countries to:

  • Save money by deploying advanced technologies and using resources efficiently.
  • Create new industries and markets to support low emission development.
  • Mitigate the hazards posed by climate change.
  • Meet consumer demand for environmental responsibility.
  • Improve local environmental quality.
  • Reduce risk caused by uncertainty related to low emission development and environmental policy.

This website, building on a review of similar methodologies and experiences with LEDS internationally, serves as a generalized framework to guide countries through the development of LEDS. A low emissions development strategy is not a fixed process. The application of this framework must be flexible in adapting to a variety of current and projected country conditions and in complementing existing climate- and development-related programs. To enable its portability in different settings, the framework emphasizes the purpose, resources, and products of each component. Thus each country can customize its framework by selectively choosing the components and resources needed to achieve a comprehensive, integrated, and stakeholder-based action plan for high-priority sectors. The detailed steps within this framework provide a sample step-by-step process, and are provided as guidance rather than as a prescriptive method.

The framework is designed to ensure that low emission development strategies remain country-driven, focused on benefits to developing countries, and able to attract significant private sector investment. The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have developed this framework in coordination with international partners and U.S. government agencies (Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of State, Environmental Protection Agency), and Department of Agriculture. This effort supports an interagency U.S. government initiative--Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies--to assist developing countries with preparation and implementation of LEDS, and will continue to evolve and support this dynamic process through multiple iterations.

Qualities and Components of Low Emission Development Strategies

There is no one-size-fits-all LEDS framework. LEDS reflect a country's unique circumstances and development goals, building on existing frameworks and country progress in addressing climate change. Several cross-cutting qualities contribute to the success of a LEDS. The key essential qualities are:

  • Country-owned and country-driven
    Does a LEDS have leadership support and strong champions within the government? Does it engage and reflect diverse and balanced stakeholder input from key actors in the country? Does it feed into the country's decision-making and budgeting apparatus? Does it integrate with existing strategies and plans, and does it rely on local capacity?

  • Analytically sound
    An analytically sound LEDS relies on reproducible data that is documented, transparent, and based on accepted international standards (for example, IPCC Guidelines for GHG Inventories)

  • Comprehensive
    A LEDS is comprehensive of development objectives, sources of emissions and economic sectors, an stakeholder priorities. Development objectives may include gender equality and empowerment, sustainable growth, poverty reduction, climate resilience, economic growth, food security, etc. Stakeholders who's perspectives must be considered may include government, civil society, academia, industry, academia, the financial community, and the international community.

  • Forward looking and long term
    LEDS take into account that power plants built today will impact emissions for decades, and that avoiding undesirable technology infrastructure is a low-emissions development priority. Analytically rigorous LEDS should model lifecycle costs and benefits of all technology options.

  • Actionable
    Can the government, donors, international financial institutions, the private sector, and other stakeholders readily adopt and implement pieces of the strategy? LEDS identify specific projects for support and potential funding sources, pointing out key beneficiaries.

  • Transformative.
    A primary goal of LEDS is to double economic growth from emissions reduction. Decoupling economic growth from emissions reduction requires transformational changes in all sectors of the economy, as well as in planning processes.
Key Components of LEDS

All LEDS have the following key components:

  • National greenhouse gas emissions inventory
  • Business-as-usual development and emissions scenario(s)
  • Alternative low emission development scenarios
  • High-priority low emission development actions
  • Implementation plan
  • Framework for monitoring and evaluation