By Dr. Harry Verhoeven, Senior Research Scholar at the Centre on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University
Discussions about climate are, always, discussions about distribution- of costs, benefits and sacrifices. For years now, the grand bargain required to ward off the existential threat of human-induced global warming has been clear. Rich, developed economies need to swiftly and comprehensively decarbonise their energy and industrial systems in ways that both mitigate the intensity of climatic changes and that enable the planet’s poorest societies to follow a cleaner, more equitable growth trajectory. Doing so would generate time, resources and appropriate technologies for those currently marginalised in the global economy to respond more effectively to climatic upheaval. Understood as such, combating climatic changes should also help address those other mega-problems challenging 21st century civilisation: multidimensional poverty; yawning inequalities between and within countries; and the structural exclusion of hundreds of millions of people from access to public goods to which they are ethically and legally entitled.
By Maurizio Bezzeccheri, Head of Latin America Region, Enel Group, Arianna Checchi, Manager, Relations with International Organizations, Public Affairs, Eni, and Marta Martinez, Head of Analysis, Climate Change and Alliances, Iberdrola
The path towards net zero by 2050 is narrow but brings huge benefits. Transformation of the global energy system – responsible for around three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide – holds the key to averting the worst effects of climate change. Emerging markets are set to be amongst the worst-affected by the climate disaster and thus have most to gain from collective climate ambition – provided they can harness the necessary investment from the private sector.
By Erik Solheim, President Green Belt and Road Institute and Former Minister of Environment and International Development of Norway
To face the great environmental – and in many respects existential – challenges of our time, we need to change the way we think. Green action is not a cost. Neither is it as difficult as we tend to believe. The green shift is a huge opportunity for win-win policies.
Two sectors will be decisive for the rapid and successful decarbonisation of our economies: energy and food. Energy gets a lot of attention. Food is another story. Decarbonising food production and consumption is just as urgent as the energy transition, but so far little is happening. Recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and the UN Food Systems Summit in September have helped raise awareness. The EU Farm to Fork Strategy is a sign of hope. But at COP26 in Glasgow, we need real, concrete resolve to make food system transformation a climate action priority.
Why should low-income countries implement carbon pricing policies to reduce carbon emissions when the world’s most advanced economies are falling woefully short of the prices needed to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement? Indeed, more than 70% of emissions from OECD and G20 countries are completely untaxed, and more than half remain entirely unpriced even when accounting for emissions trading systems. Carbon emissions of most developing and emerging economies pale in comparison to OECD and G20 countries. For example, the 15 selected developing and emerging economies1 analysed in a recent OECD report Taxing Energy Use for Sustainable Development account for less than 4% of global emissions, whereas OECD and G20 countries collectively account for more than three quarters of global carbon emissions.
By Carlos Lopes, Professor at the University of Cape Town and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
Africa’s most important priority is energy. Clean energy transitions will affect the African continent differently from industrialised regions, such as Europe. Diversifying the energy mix should not trump the need to reduce energy poverty. Energy transitions must meet socio-economic and affordability criteria as embodied in the ethos of the SDGs. But, what is less discussed is the potential for Africa to be a significant contributor to the global clean energy revolution. Beyond its interest to shift from low value extraction towards higher value beneficiation and industrial development, it is positioned to also enrich existing value chains with its abundant renewable resources.
For the African continent, the stakes are twofold. While Africa is the region of the globe that contributes the least to greenhouse gas emissions, it is the first to be impacted by climate change. Africa has low adaptive capacity and is highly vulnerable to climate variability and natural disasters such as droughts, floods and rising sea-levels, especially affecting low-lying coastal areas. Africa’s food and agriculture sectors are among the most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change, which are also exacerbating the lack of access to safe water, water stress and health risks, especially malaria, in the region.
By Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA)
This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause major disruptions to societies and economies around the world, and has dealt a worrying blow to years of hard-won progress in reducing the number of people in Africa who lack access to electricity. For seven years in a row, the number of Africans living without electricity has steadily decreased, thanks to efforts from governments, businesses and civil society. But this year, it is set to rise by 13 million amid the turmoil brought by the pandemic, according to IEA analysis. The worst effects are being felt in countries such as Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger. By putting energy services out of reach of more and more people, the crisis threatens to deepen their difficulties and those of economies across Africa.
By Randolph Bell, Director, Atlantic Council Global Energy Center; Richard Morningstar Chair for Global Energy Security and Elena Benaim, Intern, Atlantic Council Global Energy Centre
Carbon border adjustment (CBA) policies are gaining momentum on both sides of the Atlantic. They were proposed as a key element in the European Green Deal and as part of US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s climate plan. But how do they work? Carbon border adjustment mechanisms tax imported goods based on their carbon footprint with the aim of limiting emissions leakage and levelling the playing field for domestic industries that produce goods with lower greenhouse gas emission footprints than imports that may be cheaper but have higher greenhouse gas footprints.
There are a number of technical challenges to overcome in implementing a carbon border adjustment policy, including whether to peg it to a domestic price on carbon, which sectors to apply the tax, and how to ensure accurate and transparent data on embodied carbon. But one major concern is that the policy could have negative consequences for the economies of developing countries by cutting their export revenue and/or impeding the development of new export-oriented industries. Developing countries might argue that the policy runs counter to the Paris Agreement’s bottom-up, nationally determined contributions, and could push them to cut emissions more than what they pledged. Carbon border adjustment could also run afoul of the Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) principle that developing countries do not share the same responsibility as developed countries in addressing climate and environmental issues.