In the interest of global sustainability and moving on to environmentally more desirable paths, the concept of economic and social development should be the top priority for developing countries. This means that the issue of climate change must be viewed through the lens of human development. The challenge for such a type of development is the practical question of choosing sustainable pathways that provide food and energy security, employment opportunities and at the same time minimize environmental impacts. Instead of focusing attention on policies to reduce climate change risks, the starting point should be development issues that are vital the economic development and how this can be achieved in an environment-friendly manner. This means that environmental policies should be derived from development priorities. This needs a conceptual framework that places sustainable human development before climate change by reversing the existing framework. For that one has to find out alternative and cleaner pathways to achieve sustainable development goals that can also contribute to climate change goals. To achieve this objective, one has to reframe the global climate change debate as deriving from and complementing development priorities which can be approached at multiple levels and from various perspectives and should take into consideration the rapid economic growth to be achieved by developing countries. There is also the need to build scientific and technical capacity, advance scientific knowledge, and linking economic, social, technological perspectives with policy making. This 'reversal thinking' should map development, equity and vulnerability on to GHG emission problem. The determinants of this include financial resources, technology and importantly the availability of trained persons to use them effectively. Access to information and institutional mechanism (legal, social, and so on) is also important.
For developing countries, climate change remains marginal to the pressing issues of poverty, natural resource management, food security, energy needs and access to modern transport or land use that takes into consideration development, equity and vulnerability and capture the attention of leading stakeholders. Presently, the cooperation efforts and analyses of climate change policies have been driven uniquely by concerns of the developed countries. From this perspective, related ancillary benefits in energy efficiency, and health impacts of local air pollution may be significant and promote actions, but they are only of secondary importance in that they may reduce the total costs of compliance with climate change commitments. Such an approach will have limited success in developing countries. The challenge then is to have integrated development and environmental policies so that the developing countries can stay on the path that minimizes the local and global environmental costs of relieving poverty, providing adequate food, supplying electricity to households and industry, and providing employment and transportation facilities consistent with the needs of the people of developing countries. It may not be easy to reframe global environmental policies as deriving from development priorities and solve the climate change problem. However, this new framework suggests that global collaboration on climate change should be approached at multiple levels through local and national development projects as well as through multilateral efforts to establish cooperation mechanisms within an equitable and efficient global climate change regime.
According to this approach, a less-polarized way of meeting the challenges of sustainable development and climate change is necessary to build environmental and climate policy upon development priorities that are crucial to the billions of people from the developing world. For example, international financiers should prioritize projects that have a low financial cost per unit of GHG emission reduction, while national stakeholders are keen on national benefits of the activity in the form of employment generation, social development and local environmental improvements. Following that, it will be relevant to measure multiple financial, economic, social and environmental benefits of mitigation policies and then negotiation can take place between national stakeholders and international financiers to develop a portfolio of policy options that balance sustainable development and climate change policy priorities. Another issue is that of generalized methodologies. The parameters that are included in the models vary significantly by nation and region, and with time. Hence, it is important to develop localized models of environmental impacts, population exposure, preferences and valuation. This type of methodology is useful in understanding synergies and trade-offs between global and local environmental policies. Research is required on inter-linkages between sustainable development and climate change policies.
However, a number of barriers—technical, financial and capacity—exist for implementing these initiatives.4 Barrier removal is an essential part oftech-nology transfer and efficiency improvement. In this regard, governmental sector participation in technology diffusion should be seen as a way of obtaining economic, environmental and social benefits of clean technologies since private sector cannot be expected to bear the full transaction cost for barrier removal. To achieve this, policy makers need to design appropriate policy measures to promote cleaner technologies. There are also chicken and egg problems facing energy efficiency and renewable energy technology (RET) markets. On the one hand, the capital markets will not finance RET projects in the absence of a sufficient volume. On the other, the market for RET projects will not develop to be of a sufficient volume in the absence of adequate financing. Such issues have to be addressed. An innovative financial, institutional and implementational mechanism is needed that can support such integrated objectives.
If such an approach were successful in altering development paths, the climate benefits will be substantial. In fact, the scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that the type of development path taken by a country is more significant in terms of long-term emissions than explicit mitigation measures.5
Was this article helpful?