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Integrating Development in Climate Change

By Vicente Paolo Yu | South Centre | November 2007

© 2007 South Centre

The development of a comprehensive and integrated post-2012 global policy framework is clearly needed. This should be one that reflects both the concerns of developing countries to place their economies on a sustained and sustainable development path and the global concern to substantially reduce GHG emissions and mitigate and adapt to global warming. It needs to address three stark facts that exist in today's world:

  1. the world is facing a global climate crisis that requires urgent emergency action to make sure that global GHG emissions peak within the next 10 years and then decline drastically over the next three to four decades, if global warming is to be kept at less than 2°C by mid-century;
  2. flowing from the climate crisis, the environmental and carbon emissions space available for developing countries has been drastically and inequitably reduced by the development pathways taken by today's developed countries, to the extent that there simply is not enough global environmental and natural resources, nor the carbon emissions space, available to allow developing countries to develop in the same way, or even in anything approaching the same way, as developed countries did when they were themselves developing. The shrinking of environmental and carbon emissions space as a result of the climate crisis means that global GHG emissions must be drastically cut, with developed countries bearing the major burden and developing countries contributing their share of emissions reductions in a way that will not compromise their development prospects; and
  3. global economic inequity has widened and continues to widen between the developed and developing countries, aided and promoted by an increasingly complex web of international economic rules and structures (especially in trade, intellectual property, investment and finance) that has increasingly limited the development policy space of developing countries and making it more difficult for them to use economic development policy instruments used by developed countries when they themselves were developing.

General Principles for a Development Agenda in Climate Change

Any new climate change regime that fails to address these facts will be environmental, politically, socially, morally, and economically unsustainable and unjustifiable. Global action to stabilize the climate requires full commitment from both developed and developing countries, and the latter will find it difficult to commit if doing so threatens their development prospects—which effectively means that a global climate regime with any promise of success must explicitly embrace the right to development, in particular of developing countries and their peoples. Developed countries must not only lead the way in reducing their emissions deeply and soon (so as to create a bit more environmental and carbon space); they must also work with developing countries and show and implement the political will to help create developmental space for developing countries and support a transformation of their development pathways to ones that are low-carbon emissions and adapted to changing climate conditions. The principles that should guide this post-2012 framework are already contained in the UNFCCC and in the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development with its accompanying Plan of Action – Agenda 21. These include:

  • the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities to be implemented in a spirit of global cooperation and partnership
  • providing special priority to the special situation and needs of developing countries, especially LDCs and the most environmentally vulnerable
  • the use of the precautionary approach
  • the reflection of the polluters pay principle
  • the fulfilment of the right to development in an equitable and sustainable manner
  • the establishment of a supportive international economic system that supports the economic growth and sustainable development of all countries, especially developing countries, so as to enable them to better address climate change.
  • The need for negotiations to cover all relevant sources, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and adaptation, and comprise all economic sectors

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Read More: Development, Energy, Environment, Sustainability, Global

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