Reconsidering development by reflecting on climate change
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Reconsidering development by reflecting on climate change means rethinking development goals, more than pursuing climate targets. Much analysis in the development–climate literature has framed development as a co-benefit, while the objective has been climate stabilization. This misses the point that development drives emissions, not vice versa. A different approach must address low-emission technologies, but also the high-emission parts of ‘development’. Politically, climate change must be understood as a development problem. In this conception, a key task for climate policy is to explore different development paths, with the difference in emissions being a result. Development goals need to be represented as explicit objectives, both in analytical modelling and as political goals. Methods that treat climate policy as a self-control mechanism in the development system, or back-cast from development goals, need to be improved. The article further considers levers to change development paths, considering lessons on how to influence change in complex systems. The obsession of the existing economic order is with economic growth and development; what needs to be considered is the quality of development and what it means to live well. A social contract for low-carbon development requires the rich to pay for mitigation, use less, and assist the poor; lift the poor out of poverty; and change the aspirations of the middle class. Such a contract requires thinking beyond short-term political and economic time frames, with much longer-term thinking and vision.
KeywordsDevelopment Climate change Theory of change Poverty Social contract
Balance of embodied emissions from trade
Global circulation models
Gross domestic product
Integrated assessment models
Instituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales
Long-Term Mitigation Scenarios
Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios
Millennium Consumption Goals
Millennium Development Goals
National Development Plan
Representative Concentration Pathways
Special Report on Emissions Scenarios
Shared Socio-economic Pathways
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
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