Foreign Policy Blogs

Climate Change in Developing Countries: Some Interesting Facts

Buying wood for fuel

A good report, from the Current Science Journal, passed over my desk this week.

From 2009, the paper looks at the issue of climate change from a developing country perspective and provides a climate strategy suited to their unique priorities. The authors are in favor of opportunities that benefit both the environment and the economy and consider climate change mitigation a by-product of sustainable development solutions.

The report matters because the United States and other developed countries must make financial resources available to developing countries so they can meet the costs incurred in complying with climate mitigation conventions.  Since there is currently a per capita emissions gap between the developed and developing countries, a principle of ‘common but differential responsibility’ must be incorporated in to legal instruments to combat climate change.

Here’s a pdf of the full report.  I thought I’d throw down some of the best points here:

  • Developing countries are in a catch-22 situation.  On the one hand, these countries, with per capita energy consumption and CO2 emission being one-sixth that of the industrialized world, are not primarily responsible for the climate deterioration. On the other, they are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts because they have fewer resources to adapt.
  • Developing countries will account for 3/4 of the increase in global CO2 emissions between 2004 and 2030 and will overtake OECD countries as the biggest emitters by 2010 and thereafter.
  • The developing countries with 80% of the world’s population still account for only 20% of the cumulative emissions since 1751.
  • The geographical location of the developing countries acts to their disadvantage.  Majority of the developing countries (in Asia, Africa, Latin America and small island states) are in tropical and subtropical regions – the areas most likely to be affected by climate change impacts.
  • Those in the catchment areas of the Himalayas and Andes are likely to experience floods (followed by droughts), threat of tropical cyclones, complete submergence of small island states and an increased risk of extinction of 20-30% of all plant and animal species
  • Between 1990 and 1998, 97% of all natural disaster-related deaths occurred in developing countries.
  • About 90% of all natural disasters are climate, weather and water-related.
  • Skeptics and supporters use developing countries as their main weapon of argument. The supported feel this is the right opportunity to leapfrog developed countries in terms of adopting cleaner technologies as a basis for development.
  • In developing countries, price reform, agricultural soil protection, sustainable forestry and energy sector restructuring are being undertaken without any reference to climate change. These initiatives help in mitigating environmental risks and at the same time enhance economic and social development
  • Best strategy >> Environmental policies should be derived from development priorities.  Instead of focusing attention on policies to reduce climate change risks, the starting point should be the development issues that are vital to the economic development and how these can be achieved in an environment-friendly manner