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Synergising climate and development challenges

Sep 03, 2009

United Nations latest report World Economic and Social Survey 2009 highlights the impact of climate change on developing countries and the need for stronger efforts to cut down emissions. The document recommends a combination of large-scale investments and active government policy interventions for holistic development.

2009 World Economic and Social Survey: Promoting Development, Saving the Planet

Publisher: United Nations, 2009

The central message of the World Economic and Social Survey 2009 is that addressing the climate challenge cannot be met through ad-hoc and incremental actions.

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The fact that more than a decade has been lost since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for cutting down global emissions  only leads to an urgency to take stronger steps to create a save planet.

The Survey argues that switching to low-emissions, high-growth pathways in order to meet the development and climate challenge is both necessary and feasible.

  • It is necessary because combating global warming cannot be achieved without eventual emissions reductions from developing countries.
  • It is feasible because technological solutions that can enable a shift towards such pathways do in fact exist.

However, to satisfy development needs, energy demands will have to rise in developing countries, posing a challenge in how to combine the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions with economic objectives. Most developing countries do not currently have the financial resources, technological know-how and institutional capacity to deploy such strategies at a speed commensurate with the urgency of the climate challenge.

Questions have been raised whether it is possible to combine high economic growth in developing countries with a radical lowering of their emissions trajectory.

Proponents of the “top-down” approach focus on the global challenge and what kind of emissions trajectories and targets for developing countries would be consistent with meeting this challenge.

Proponents of the alternative, “bottom-up” approach focus on the concrete actions that are being undertaken by developing countries, in the context, for example, of energy efficiency, pilot programmes in renewable energy, and afforestation projects.

Combining the two approaches leads to the conclusion that it is indeed possible to integrate the climate and development agendas, although this would require a very different stance on climate policy in developing countries than the one that has emerged in developed ones.

Among the possible multilateral measures in support of a global investment programme set out in the report is the creation of a global clean energy fund, a global feed-in tariff regime in support of renewable energy sources, a climate technology programme and a more balanced intellectual property regime for aiding the transfer of clean energy technology.

In order for the combined challenges of development and climate change to be met, nothing less than a fundamental transformation as regards financial and technological support to developing countries is needed.

Such a transformation would involve moving beyond the long-standing promises of such support from developed countries, to a full-blown strategy of how they will support the investments developing countries would have to undertake to shift quickly to a low-emissions, high-growth path.

Source : UN News
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