Guatemala Low Emission Development Strategy (G-LEDS)

Spurring economic and social development by reducing greenhouse gas emissions

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

If Guatemala continues its current trend of emitting Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) into 2020, emissions would double by 2050, thereby stunting the nation’s economic and social development.

To combat this threat, USAID contracted RTI to implement the five-year Guatemala Low Emission Development Strategy (G-LEDS) project. With participation from more than 300 representatives in the public and private sectors, academia, indigenous organizations, cooperatives and organized groups, we are working with the Government of Guatemala to formulate the country’s first low emission development strategy (LEDS).

In Guatemala, the largest source of GHG emissions in the country comes from change in land use due to forest clearing, the growth of unsustainable crops, natural disasters, and the use of fossil fuels.

The strategy establishes the path for countries like Guatemala to fulfill their commitment to reduce GHG emissions. Under the project, we have also worked to help build the institutional capacity of Guatemalan government agencies. Through these efforts, the effects of climate change will be reduced and GHG emissions mitigated.

Lower Emissions, Increase Opportunities

The G-LEDS project uses science and analytics—such as establishing the country’s projected GHG emissions forecast through the year 2050 and field demonstrations—to provide evidence on low emission development benefits and opportunities. Key sectors include waste, forestry, agriculture, energy, industry, transport, urban development, and alternative land usage.

In 10 steps, RTI—in parternership with the government—completed the LEDS action planning process. First, the project established clear goals and began baseline development. Over the course of the following two years, we convened six working group sessions every four months and established a GHG emission baseline and forecast through 2050 that we used to define a vision for long-term development. Then, the program identified and prioritized—and later revised and validated—policy and project options. A microeconomic and macroeconomic analysis followed, helping illuminate low emission development policies’ positive effects on the Guatemalan economy. Integrating policy and project options, making final recommendations, and continuing to monitor, evaluate, and update the LEDS, was the final step in the process.

Luis Chang, Minister of Energy and Mines, emphasized the importance of this work: "The Low Emission Development Strategy will contribute to prioritizing actions to mitigate climate change to encourage investment, reduce operating costs, create new jobs, generate income, and above all, establish an economy with more resilience to the effects of climate change."

Over the course of the LEDS action planning process, the project continued to make improvements in climate science and analytics, strengthen the government’s capacities at various levels, improve engagement and transparency with a wider network of LEDS stakeholders, demonstrate field-level activities that provide evidence on LEDS benefits, and maintain consistent messaging to showcase positive LEDS impacts and opportunities. As a result, the project supported the development of the National Determined Contribution in 2015, approval of the National Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Plan the following year, and launch of the National Energy Plan in 2017—all significant achievements made towards securing a sustainable Guatemalan future.

By November 2018, the G-LEDS project staff will have compiled the 43 policy options to prepare for the public launch of the national-level LEDS the same month. The final strategy will establish the path forward for Guatemala to reach its commitment to reducing GHG emissions by 11 percent by 2030.

“We need to find better ways to produce so that our children can continue to develop the community and not have to go to other cities or countries to look for work,” said Victor Hugo López from the Tineco agricultural association in Huehuetenango in the country’s western highlands.