Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Date Apr 03, 2017
Type application/pdf
ISBN No. 123
Author Tariq Banuri and Hans Opschoor
Description The purpose of this working paper is to raise critical issues on the relationship between climate policy and sustainable development. It criticizes current policy approaches, including that reflected in the Kyoto Protocol, on the grounds that they have inadvertently resulted in the placing of climate policy and development into separate boxes. Policy experience on climate stabilization has developed largely within the institutional, economic, and political context of industrialized countries, but policy analysis now needs to turn single-mindedly to the situation of developing countries. In the future, it would be necessary not only to induce adjustment in industrialized countries, but also to re-orient the growth process in the developing world towards de-carbonization. To this end, the working paper concludes with the identification of a set of questions for wider and urgent discussion. To set the stage, Section 1 provides a brief summary of recent developments in the climate literature. There is virtually no doubt today that climate change is already happening, that it is caused by the emission and accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, that it poses the gravest of dangers to life on this planet, and that much of its impact is already locked in because of past actions, but the most extreme costs could be avoided if policy responses are put in place immediately. Section 2 moves from climate trends to stabilization, and summarizes global as well national actions (in particular those developed under the Kyoto Protocol) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In retrospect, these have proven highly inadequate and have not produced an appreciable impact. The ideas that are being discussed on how to proceed beyond Kyoto are framed within the same overall approach. Their main weakness is the absence of credible measures that can reassure developing countries that the development agenda will be reconciled and integrated into climate action. De-carbonized economic development requires an approach that goes beyond Kyoto. Instead of separating climate and development, it should separate responsibility (and funding) from action. This implies a shift from the language of emission targets or rights to the language of investment, a language that provides the core of development thinking. A concrete option is to initiate a globally funded public investment program in developing countries, using the example of the Manhattan Project, to deploy available renewable technologies on a massive scale. Section 4 presents some initial ideas on this approach, and recommends research and analysis on critical themes.

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