OECD's documents on climate change include both international policy issues, as well as national and sectoral policies. Guidelines on international policy issues emphasize the importance of identifying and analyzing policy frameworks that can facilitate adaptation to climate change impacts. In this area, OECD devotes particular attention to developing countries, and to particularly crucial sectors of intervention, such as water. The organization claims that climate change does not yet feature prominently within the environmental or economic policy agendas of many developing countries. This fact is a great disadvantage for developing countries, as data show that they might be particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts, and that climate change will likely affect the development potential for their economies. OECD documents and research address the points of convergence, as well as the opposing claims, of development and climate change, both with respect to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to their effects. OECD's Development Co-operation and Environment Directorates work closely to identify linkages and explore effective policy responses in the areas of development cooperation and climate change. The focus is on natural resource management and climate adaptation responses.
In its "Domestic Policy Framework for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Water Sector. Part II: NonAnnex I Countries" (2006), for example, OECD has recommended an integration of the current meteorological trends and information on future water availability in the processes of water resources management and policy development. The document includes suggestions that an efficient way to start addressing adaptation in developing countries is through the strengthening of the fundamental building blocks of civil society. An effective adaptation to climate change can only be achieved through transparent governance based on the rule of law, cooperation among government agencies, and involvement of stakeholders (including local communities) in the decision-making process. The authors also stress the importance of accessible schooling, basic professional training, and medical care as essential elements in building community-level capacity and in adaptating to climate variability and change.
The OECD volume Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Linking Climate Change and Development (2005) points out that although climate change may seem a remote topic compared to pressing problems, such as poverty, disease and economic stagnation, it "can directly affect the efficiency of resource investments and eventual achievement of many development objectives." The authors argue for establishing a link between climate change and development priorities. They suggest ways in which development can be made more resilient to the impacts of climate change, taking into account the engineering and policy-making sectors. For example, at the engineering level, the impact of climate change in sea-level rise and glacial lake outburst floods should be taken into account when choosing the location and design of bridges and other infrastructure. Policy-makers should instead consider the implications of climate change on a variety of development activities, including poverty reduction, sectoral development, and natural resource management. The activities of OECD in this area aim to bridge the gap between the phenomena of climate change and development communities. The policies of climate change and those of development communities should attempt to consider their different priorities, time- and space-scales.
OECD documents aim to provide specific information "on the significance of climate change for development activities along with operational guidance on how best to respond to it within the context of other pressing social priorities." All too often, OECD researchers argue, development activities overlook climate change and the risks involved in the phenomenon. This is why Bridge Over Trouble Waters, among other OECD documents on climate change, argues for the adoption of longer-term perspectives than the ones generally adopted by developing communities. These often fail to integrate suitable policies of climate change adaptation into national development plans and poverty reduction strategies. Development priorities and policies of climate change adaptation are also sometimes perceived as polar opposites. The pressing challenges of poverty and inadequate infrastructure tend to overshadow the importance of investments in measures whose importance will not become clear until climate change impacts become fully evident.
In contrast with this existing situation, OECD recommends that information on climate change should be made more relevant for development initiatives and provide a more complete estimate of the cost effectiveness of including measures of climate change adaptation/limitation into development planning. In addition, the OEDC encourages the development of improved screening tools to identify the likely climate risks for development activities, in general, and for specific projects. Climate information should be made relevant to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). EIA guidelines and checklists, however, would need to be modified to include the implications of projects for greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of the environment on a given project (at present only the impact of the project on the environment is taken into account). OECD documents point out that often the phenomenon of climate change does not need entirely new responses, but simply reinforces the need to implement measures that are already recognized as development or environmental priorities. Measures such as water or energy conservation, forest protection, flood control, building of coastal embankments, improvement of river flow, and protection of mangroves have already been listed as priorities in national and local planning documents, but have rarely been implemented. Thus, what the OECD argues for is not so much radically new plans for climate adaptation, but an effective implementation of measures that, in most cases, have already been approved.
To be more effective, OECD points out that the activities for climate change adaptation and mitigation should combine national goals with a bottom-up approach to the needs of local communities. In line with its free-market economy philosophy, OECD encourages the participation of the private sector in such activities. The organization also stresses the importance of trans-boundary and regional coordination. At present, most climate change action and adaptation plans are at the national level, while many impacts cut across national boundaries. Meaningful integration of a range of climate risks, from flood control, to dry season flows, to glacial lake hazards, can only be achieved through greater coordination on data collection, monitoring, and policies at the regional level. Finally, joint building of experience and sharing of tools and experiences, within and among governments and development cooperation agencies are needed for a successful implementation of climate change adaptation policies.
A relevant selection of OECD documents on climate change are specifically concerned with economic factors involved in the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol. "A Multi-gas Assessment of the Kyoto Protocol" (2000), for example, extends the analysis of the economic impact in limiting gas emissions, including not only carbon dioxide, but also methane and nitrous oxide. The document thus covers up to 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions listed by the Protocol. The inclusion of these gases reduces the estimated economic costs of implementing the Kyoto Protocol. The document points out that if each Annex I country or region takes individual action to respect its emission target under the Protocol, real income may, on average, be 0.33 per centlower. This compares favorably with previous estimates covering only carbon dioxide that showed 0.5 percent reduction in real income. In "Action Against Climate Change: The Kyoto Protocol and Beyond" (1999), OECD has stressed that the Kyoto targets alone will not be enough to avert climate change, but are best described as first steps in a global action. The document's authors argues on the necessity to achieve world-wide consensus for taking action and the economic impacts such action may have. Yet, even if this ambitious goal is reached, climate change may take place anyway, so that countries need to be prepared to face climate change impacts.
Several OECD documents have attempted to develop an implementation framework for a global greenhouse gas emissions trading system. "Linking Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading System and Markets" (2006), for example, takes as its point of departure the several different emission trading schemes (ETS) currently in operation, and those likely to emerge in the near future. In spite of the different sizes, design characteristics, and geographical scopes of these systems, the few existing links among them should be expanded. OECD has shown that linking the domestic ETSs of different countries or regions can be beneficial for all the parties involved. Establishing links between different markets increases their size and fluidity, so that the same environmental benefits can be gained at a lower overall cost, producing economic benefits.
In addition to these documents on general topics related to climate change, OECD has produced several statements on the impact of climate change on specific economic and social sectors. For example, the organization has studied ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in developing countries (RED), usually by exploiting a market-based approach stressing efficient land-use options and incentives available to reduce emissions from deforestation. OECD has also produced documents that attempt to foster international collaboration regarding energy technologies in the con text of climate change mitigation. Sharing information, costs, and efforts can facilitate a technical shift towards more climate-friendly technologies. It may also drive governments to allocate more funds in support for basic research and development. These forms of cooperation between countries are also recommended to engage more countries into action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. OECD has particularly focused on solar power technologies; the use of environmental-friendly technologies in agriculture and the development of seeds of high-yielding varieties (HYV); appliances that can bring significant greenhouse gas emission reductions at low cost to society, without compromising on quality standards, clean coal technologies; and wind power integration into electricity systems.
sEE ALsO: OECD Annex 1 Expert Group on the UNFCCC; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
BIBLIOGRApHY. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Bridge over Troubled Waters: Linking Climate Change And Development (OECD, 2005); OECD, www.oecd.org (cited November 2007).
Luca Prono University of Nottingham
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Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.