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Low-carbon development for the least developed countries

This paper argues that least developed countries (LDCs) are greatly threatened by human induced climate change, because their dependence on rain-fed agriculture and forestry as sources of employment and income make them vulnerable to climatic changes and variability. Many LDCs are already subject to climatic stress due to their location in the tropics and other areas subject to a high incidence of weather-related shocks. The paper notes that the most important source of greenhouse gas emissions in LDCs is land use change, in particular deforestation. Halting deforestation is, thus, a key priority for low carbon development.

The paper claims that LDCs should adopt low carbon growth paths to avoid ‘locking in’ high carbon technologies in long-lived plant, equipment and infrastructure or premature scrapping when low carbon policies are finally adopted. Low carbon growth paths are likely to improve export markets as rich countries become more concerned about low carbon consumption. This would allow LDCs to benefit from any subsidies made available for low carbon research, development and deployment deriving from future international agreements on intellectual property rights and direct funds towards technologies relevant to the industrial structure of LDCs.

The paper makes the following recommendations.

  • Global costs of decarbonisation should be shared equitably with the condition that, where reducing greenhouse gas emissions in LDCs entails costs, poor people should not bear these costs.
  • LDCs need to focus on low carbon growth in order to benefit from likely future bias in technological progress towards renewable energy technologies.
  • LDCs should venture into developing new and valuable cash crops due to the increased search for biofuels.
  • Well designed and effective public policies on better governance and the correction of pervasive market failures should be put in place.