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Low-carbon Development for Least Developed Countries

Low-carbon Development for Least Developed Countries

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Published by Oxfam
This paper examines the rationale for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to pursue low-carbon growth paths, and identifies areas where such countries can contribute to mitigation whilst retaining a focus on poverty reduction. It argues low-carbon growth paths, appropriate to the needs of LDCs, ought to be explored now. Policies for low-carbon development offer an opportunity to share in the benefits of green growth, address a range of existing market and government failures in LDCs, and provide low-cost options for global emissions reductions. Synergies between poverty alleviation and emissions reduction exist in the forestry and agriculture sectors, as well as rural electrification. But elsewhere there may be trade-offs, for instance in the transport and industrial sectors. Where additional costs are involved, these should not be borne by poor people, making it vital that an international framework is in place to assist LDCs, with rich countries compensating them for measures they undertake that go beyond their immediate development interests.
This paper examines the rationale for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to pursue low-carbon growth paths, and identifies areas where such countries can contribute to mitigation whilst retaining a focus on poverty reduction. It argues low-carbon growth paths, appropriate to the needs of LDCs, ought to be explored now. Policies for low-carbon development offer an opportunity to share in the benefits of green growth, address a range of existing market and government failures in LDCs, and provide low-cost options for global emissions reductions. Synergies between poverty alleviation and emissions reduction exist in the forestry and agriculture sectors, as well as rural electrification. But elsewhere there may be trade-offs, for instance in the transport and industrial sectors. Where additional costs are involved, these should not be borne by poor people, making it vital that an international framework is in place to assist LDCs, with rich countries compensating them for measures they undertake that go beyond their immediate development interests.

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Published by: Oxfam on Aug 18, 2011
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02/08/2013

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Oxfam Discussion Papers
Low-CarbonDevelopmentFor Least DevelopedCountries
Alex Bowen and Sam Fankhauser
Grantham
 
Research
 
Institute
 
on
 
Climate
 
Change
 
and
 
the
 
Environment
 
and
 
Centre
 
for
 
Climate
 
Change
 
Economics
 
and
 
Policy,
 
London
 
School
 
of 
 
Economics
 
and
 
Political
 
Science
 
August 2011
This paper examines the rationale for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to pursue low- carbon growth paths, and identifies areas where such countries can contribute to mitigation whilst retaining a focus on poverty reduction. It argues low-carbon growth paths, appropriate to the needs of LDCs, ought to be explored now. Policies for low- carbon development offer an opportunity to share in the benefits of green growth,address a range of existing market and government failures in LDCs, and provide low- cost options for global emissions reductions. Synergies between poverty alleviation and emissions reduction exist in the forestry and agriculture sectors, as well as rural electrification. But elsewhere there may be trade-offs, for instance in the transport and industrial sectors. Where additional costs are involved, these should not be borne by poor people, making it vital that an international framework is in place to assist LDCs,with rich countries compensating them for measures they undertake that go beyond their immediate development interests.
Oxfam Discussion Papers
Oxfam Discussion Papers are written to contribute to public debate and to invite feedbackon development and humanitarian policy issues. They are ’work in progress’ documents,and do not necessarily constitute final publications or reflect Oxfam policy positions. Theviews and recommendations expressed are those of the author and not necessarily thoseof Oxfam.For more information, or to comment on this paper, email Sarah Best(sbest@oxfam.org.uk)
www.oxfam.org/grow
 
For Least Developed Countries 
, Oxfam Discussion paper, Month Year
2
CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ............................................................................................................................. 3
 
1. INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................................... 4
 
2. Climate change mitigation, adaptation, and development................................................................ 6
 
3. Low-cost options for greenhouse gas emission reductions in LDCs ............................................. 10
 
4. A low-carbon development path for poor countries ......................................................................... 12
 
5. Conclusions ............................................................................................................................................... 15
 
REFERENCES ............................................................................................................................................... 16
 
NOTES ........................................................................................................................................................... 18
 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ......................................................................................................................... 23
 
 
For Least Developed Countries 
, Oxfam Discussion paper, Month Year
3
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The global community has to act collectively to halt climate change. But such collective action must take intoaccount the development needs of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which are likely to be hit earliest andhardest while having the least capacity for adaptation. The priority of such countries remains povertyalleviation and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, but the three challenges of limitingclimate change, adapting to its consequences, and reducing poverty have to be faced together.This will require LDCs eventually to follow a development path that differs from those trodden by today’sindustrial countries and emerging market economies. There is no room in the long run for high-emissioneconomies and high-carbon growth is unsustainable, given the possible consequences for fossil-fuelsupplies and climate change impacts. And there are some advantages for LDCs of low-carbon growth incertain circumstances. For instance, in tackling broader market and government failures, which inhibitproductivity and well-being – like inadequate incentives for appropriate technology development anddeployment – or increasing energy security and addressing local health and environmental problems.By far the most important sources of greenhouse gas emissions in LDCs derive from land-use change, inparticular deforestation. Since halting forest loss is also a major development and local environmental issue,tackling land-use change is therefore a key priority of low-carbon development. Synergies between povertyalleviation and emission reduction also exist with rural electrification, where renewable energy solutions areoften least costly. And strengthening the capacity of the public sector to provide public goods such as energyinfrastructure can help development in general, not just low-carbon development. But elsewhere there maybe trade-offs between development and low-carbon objectives, for instance as much-needed investment intransport infrastructure leads to rising emissions.Adoption of low-carbon development paths by LDCs, as appropriate to their needs, should be conditional onthe global costs of decarbonisation being shared equally. So, where reduction of emissions in LDCsintroduces costs, rich people – not poor people – should bear these. This makes it crucial that aninternational framework is in place to assist LDCs and compensate them for measures they undertake thatgo beyond their immediate development interests.

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