The Development And Climate Paradigm

Climate change interfaces with various societal and natural processes and, consequently, with development processes. Development and climate intersect along two broad dimensions. First, the localized impacts of climate change like water shortages, agricultural disruption, and coastal flooding pose serious long-term threats to development. These impacts will be felt disproportionately in developing countries. Second, development activities emit GHGs, which are driving forces of climate change. Developing countries, particularly those that are least developed, have expressed considerable concern about their vulnerability to climate impacts. Since the impacts are considered a future problem, climate negotiations have concentrated on emissions mitigation. Balance in emphasis between mitigation and adaptation must be restored. Aligning development and climate actions in developing countries is the most practical and effective way to restore the balance and ensure the participation of developing countries.

Conventionally, global policymakers have viewed climate change as a barrier to development, and development as a threat to climate change. Most conflicts in climate debates and negotiations can be traced to this perspective. The current impasse in negotiations and progressively divergent views among nations now demand alternate perspectives. One alternate approach is the development and climate paradigm, which views development, i.e., the building of capacities, institutions, and human capital in developing countries, as the key driving force for enhancing the capacity to adapt to or mitigate the climate change. This paradigm holds that innovations and cooperation can support the simultaneous improvement of development and climate.

To this end, the development paradigm proposes a myriad of climate-friendly economic and social activities. Since national sustainable development goals tend not to require aggressive advances in the climate change arena, the achievement of these goals accrues a "double dividend'' in terms of added climate change benefits. The cascading effects of sustainable development would reduce emissions, moderate the costs of adverse impacts of climate change, and enhance welfare. In recent years, many developing countries have attempted to align national goals with globally agreed-upon sustainable development priorities (Shukla, Sharma, Ravindranath, Bhattacharyya, & Garg, 2003). As a result, the conventional paradigm of economic development that was woven around the optimal resource allocation is now extended to include participative processes, local initiatives, and global interfaces. From this emergent perspective, while efficiency is addressed by market mechanisms, institutions are given primacy in the nation's capacity to use resources optimally.

Most development targets address climate change concerns effectively, if indirectly. For instance, poverty reduction and elimination of hunger would enhance the adaptive capacity of the poor due to improved food security and health, while also enhancing their resilience to cope with risks from uncertain and extreme events. Increased use of hydro and renewable energy resources would reduce GHG and local pollutant emissions, enhance energy security, and provide access to water resources from additional hydro projects. Many actions for climate adaptation and mitigation can then be integrated with projects that are already under way - and could, alternatively, be designed as incremental or adjunct to projects that are justified for economic development purposes (Heller & Shukla, 2003). Climate-friendly development and national sustainable development goals, like conservation of resources and enhancements of human capacity, are complementary. In fact, cascading effects of development along a sustainable pathway could reduce emissions and also moderate the costs of adverse impacts of climate change.

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