Why should developing countries implement carbon pricing when even advanced economies fall woefully short?

By Jonas Teusch, Economist, and Konstantinos Theodoropoulos, Statistician, OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration

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Taxing energy use for sustainable development

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.

Against this background, does it matter that none of the 15 selected countries currently price carbon explicitly, and 83% of carbon emissions remain entirely untaxed?

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Europe and Africa need to see eye to eye on climate change

By Carlos Lopes, Professor at the University of Cape Town and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Analysis, including the IPPC reports, show Africa’s vulnerability to climate change despite only accounting for 2% to 3% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industrial sources. Africa aspires to attain the economic and technological convergence and benefits similar to those enjoyed in the industrialised world. Other regions got to their advanced development stage at a high cost for the planet, contributing to climate change. Africans should do it differently, taking advantage of being latecomers, with the opportunity to leapfrog into green industrial and technological development. But that requires a framework of support and significant financial resources the continent lacks. It is, therefore, not surprising that Africans are becoming assertive about the need for climate justice. It is a way of demonstrating that the current climate change narrative cannot box them into adaptation and mitigation alone.

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Africa has the potential to make renewable energy the engine of its growth

By Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD)

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.

In 1992, representatives of 172 countries met in Rio to define the basis for sustainable development and adopt a set of 27 principles on future development directions. Almost thirty years later, the state of the planet is still a cause for great concern and despite some progress, the results are not enough. The majority of climate models and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have concluded that any temperature rise above 2 to 3 degrees celsius will have negative effects on productivity in most parts of the world.

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We must act now to stop the COVID crisis from undermining Africa’s energy future

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.

We must act now to stop the Covid crisis from undermining Africa’s energy future

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.

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Carbon border adjustment: a powerful tool if paired with a just energy transition

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.

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Middle East and North Africa: The challenge of a long-term strategy for oil exporting countries

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By Rahmat Poudineh, Senior Research Fellow and Director of Research, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies


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.


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Oil refinery plant in Qatar

There is no single successful strategy to shield oil-exporting countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) from the long-term risks of an oil price crash, exposing them to serious long-term challenges.

Diversification for example, works only when it reduces risk by pooling uncorrelated income streams and sectors. If countries diversify only into sectors that rely on hydrocarbon infrastructure and where relationships (tangible and non-tangible) exist across fossil and non-fossil fuel businesses, they cannot build resilience. On the other hand, if they diversify into substantively different areas that have little in common with their current primary industry, which is the core of their comparative advantage, they run the risk of not being competitive. Moreover, the cost of reducing the long-term risks and increasing resilience of their core sector is to accept lower expected return on existing hydrocarbon assets, for instance, by investing in measures that align their hydrocarbon sector with low carbon scenarios. This lowers the overall return but reduces the risk of disruption in the long run. Continue reading

How COVID-19 could help eliminate fossil fuel subsidies

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By Mario Pezzini, former Director of the OECD Development Centre and special adviser to the OECD Secretary-General on development, and Håvard Halland, Senior Economist at the OECD Development Centre


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.


Oil pumpjacks in Tatarstan, Russia
Photo: Yegor Aleyev/Tass/PA Images

As oil-exporting countries struggle to respond to the crisis, there is a way to make critical fiscal resources available.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit oil-exporting countries at the worst possible moment. Severely strained health systems, and the need for economic stimulus, call for unprecedented growth in public spending. At the same time, oil export revenues have plummeted, following the demand collapse caused by the pandemic and a breakdown of traditional price-setting mechanisms. As a result, many oil exporters in the low- and middle-income category will struggle to muster anything near the level of expenditure required for an efficient response to the virus. Continue reading

Energising Africa’s productive transformation: how intermediary cities can be a game changer

By Bakary Traoré, Economist, OECD Development Centre, and Elisa Saint-Martin, Junior policy Analyst, OECD Development Centre 

Electricity-in-Africa-shutterstock_563620138A review of on-going industrial strategies (Africa’s Development Dynamics 2019 report) shows that most African countries have the ambition to expand processing activities in sub-sectors such as agro-industries, fertilisers, metals and construction materials. To achieve this, it is urgent to improve the quality of energy supply across the continent. Regional co-operation for energy among Africa’s cross-border intermediary cities can be a game changer.

First, let’s take a look at the main challenges

Today, industrial processing activities and transport services account for no more than 35% of total energy consumption in Africa (see Figure 1, based on the OECD/IEA 2019 database). Africa’s electrical networks are struggling to cope with current needs: on average, firms in sub-Saharan Africa face 8.5 electricity outages a month (World Bank, Enterprise surveys, 2019), and 40.5% of them consider insufficient access to energy to be a major constraint to their growth and competitiveness.
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The Green Eureka Moment: Investing and Inventing to Stop Climate Change

By Raluca Anisie, Carbon Impact Analyst and Paul Hailey, Head of Impact, responsAbility Investments AG

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A family bakery in Ecuador that used a green loan from a GCPF investee to buy a more energy-efficient oven. Photo: José Jacomo

In the 3rd century B.C., Archimedes declared: “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the world.” This phrase speaks to the potential of the right tools at the right time, but as anyone who has tried to build flatpack furniture will confirm, not having the right tools can derail any project, however grand.

In 2019, our quest to find and use the right tools to move the world is more urgent than ever. As UNEP stated at COP24, we are the last generation that can stop climate change. This challenge requires a mobilisation of investment on an unprecedented scale, yet enormous gaps remain, especially in the developing world. Filling these gaps will require ground-breaking investment approaches like blended finance, a method that uses public money to improve the risk profile of investments to catalyse private funding. However, tools such as blended products will also need to credibly demonstrate impact to attract and retain public and private investors. Continue reading

We now have a Paris Agreement rulebook, where do we go from here? Insights on environmental policies from randomised impact evaluations

By Iqbal Dhaliwal, Executive Director, and Rebecca Toole, Senior Policy Associate, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

 

gas-pollutionAt the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2018 (COP24), parties agreed to a rulebook that lays out how governments will measure, report and verify emissions under the Paris Agreement. Now countries need to act — and know whether policies and programmes are meeting their climate goals.

Thanks to innovations in research design, improvements in measurement technology and an increasing political will to know what works, more opportunities to rigorously evaluate and learn from real-world environment and energy policies exist than many might think.

Take, for example, our work at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) to ensure that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL is anchored by a network of 171 affiliated professors at more than 50 universities who conduct randomised impact evaluations to answer critical questions in social policy. Our Environment & Energy sector measures the real-world impacts of environmental and energy policies on everything from pollution reduction to climate change mitigation and resilience.

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