Box 11 Climate change mitigation in developing countries

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Many developing countries share the OECD's concern to find ways to cut GHG emissions, but also face pressing problems relating to access to energy supplies, local environmental pollution and energy security. Energy efficiency measures and low carbon energy sources can be used in ways that both cut emissions and help meet these other policy priorities. Realising this interdependence is vital to the success of any future international framework to tackle climate change.

Technological and operational upgrading in industry and power generation is one of the most promising options for developing countries. The continued reliance on outdated and inefficient technologies in many developing countries means that there is considerable potential for reducing emission if energy efficiency can be raised to the level of OECD countries. For example, China has set an ambitious national target to reduce energy 'intensity' by 20 per cent by 2010.

Renewable energy technologies are becoming commercially available to developing countries, following development and deployment in the industrialised world. But the preferred options differ from country to country, and importing technology is not the only option. For example, China is among the top world investors in renewables (US$ 7 billion in 2006) and is the world's largest solar heating manufacturer, with installations in more than 30 million households (Graham-Harrison, 2006). India competes with Denmark and Germany as a leading wind turbine exporter and is also a leader in biomass technologies. Brazil, meanwhile, obtains almost all of its electricity from hydropower and is a world pioneer in producing automotive fuel using sugarcane ethanol.

Nuclear power can be attractive to developing countries for both energy security and environmental reasons. China has decided to invest in 40GW of nuclear capacity by 2020 and India is also actively cooperating with the US on nuclear power. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is seen as a less attractive technology at present, since its feasibility remains to be demonstrated and it is expected to be expensive and energy intensive (see Chapter 12).

In areas such as transport, appliances and buildings, developing countries have the potential to 'leapfrog' the energy pathways taken by developed countries and adopt the most advanced technologies. But this depends on both developing countries' determination and developed countries' support in technology transfer and cooperation. Chapter 12 looks in detail at issues of technology transfer to developing countries and the potential of some big 'technical fixes' for reducing emissions.

Efficient energy end use in developing countries will also play an important role. Here the potential exemplary effect of OECD lifestyles and behaviour change is difficult to anticipate or measure, but it is difficult to ignore in a highly globalised world. Climate change is truly a global problem, but demonstrating the political, technical, economic and social attractiveness of achieving very low net carbon emissions is primarily a challenge for OECD countries.

Preventing dangerous climate change is clearly in developing countries' interests, and many have made significant investments and policy commitments towards this end (Box 1.1). However, as the foregoing discussion has demonstrated, cutting emissions in OECD countries must be the first priority, and provides the main focus for this book.

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