Promoting Development, Saving the Planet Overview
United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 2303, No. 30822
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The central message of the World Economic and Social Survey 2009 is that
addressing the climate challenge cannot be met through ad hoc and incremental
actions. In the first place, it requires much stronger efforts by advanced
countries to cut their emissions. !e fact that in this regard more than a
decade has been lost since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol to the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change1 only adds urgency to those efforts. However, even if advanced countries begin to match their words
with deeds, their efforts are, by themselves, unlikely to be sufficient to meet the climate challenge. !e active participation of developing countries is now required and such participation can occur only if it allows economic growth and development to proceed in a rapid and sustainable manner.
!is Survey argues that switching to low-emissions, high-growth pathways in order to meet the development and climate challenge is both necessary and feasible. It is necessary because combating global warming cannot be achieved without eventual emissions reductions from developing countries.
It is feasible because technological solutions that can enable a shift towards such pathways do in fact exist. It is, however, neither inevitable nor inconsequential.
Such a switch would entail unprecedented and potentially very costly socioeconomic adjustments in developing countries—adjustments, moreover, that
will have to be made in a world more rife with inequalities than at any time in human history. If it is to happen, the switch will require a level of international support and solidarity rarely mustered outside a wartime setting.
The Survey also argues that achieving such a transformation hinges on the creation of a global new deal capable of raising investment levels and channeling resources towards lowering the carbon content of economic
activity and building resilience with respect to unavoidable climate changes.
Most developing countries do not currently have the financial resources,
technological know-how and institutional capacity to deploy such strategies
at a speed commensurate with the urgency of the climate challenge. Failure
to honour long-standing commitments of international support in those three
areas remains the single biggest obstacle to meeting the challenge. Bolder
action is required on all fronts.
The Survey contends that, in line with common but differentiated
responsibilities, the switch will demand an approach to climate policy in
developing countries different from that in developed ones. It will, in articular,require a new public policy agenda —one that focuses on a broad mix of market and non-market measures while placing a much greater emphasis than has been seen in recent years on public investment and effective industrial policies,to be managed by a developmental State. !e mix in developed countries is likely to entail a larger role for carbon markets, taxes and regulations.
Finally, issues of trust and justice will need to be taken much more
seriously so as to ensure fair and inclusive responses to the climate challenge.
The Survey argues that one determinant of success will be the capacity of
developed and developing countries to create a more integrated framework and
joint programmes with shared goals on, inter alia, climate adaptation, forestry, energy (including energy access), and poverty eradication.