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PROJECT: Achieving green growth in developing countries: the political economy of energy security

Project Reference: RSGL-1101

Green growth offers a way for countries to achieve economic growth alongside climate change mitigation; it is a core part of climate compatible development and could provide realistic means to meeting the sustainable development goals, set in September 2015. The energy sectors’ role in climate and energy security concerns are crucial drivers for green growth, but opportunities and challenges for transforming the energy sector are often context specific and linked to vested interests from those in political power.

How green growth can contribute to improved energy security in developing countries, and how interests and incentives resulting from a country’s political economy can influence policy options and choices, are not well understood.

In this project, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael), the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands, Oxford Policy Management and ClimateCare explored how the political economy of energy security influences the ambition and implementation of national green growth plans. The research considered challenges and opportunities associated with institutional, business and political structures.

Local ownership and a political willingness to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency projects is of utmost importance for a long-term impact. From a global climate mitigation perspective this adds to the need for local decision takers and investors to embrace low-carbon development and also increases the potential for meaningful contributions aimed at decarbonising production processes. These circumstances provide ample opportunity for new, low-carbon infrastructure pathways.

Focussing on three countries which have all obtained middle-income status and have high projected economic growth in the coming years, this project combined a political economy analysis with a quantitative analysis of green energy pathways compared to a business as usual scenario. The project has developed a conceptual framework as a tool for identifying, framing, and communicating green growth benefits. The project involved representatives from relevant parts of government in Colombia, Indonesia and Kenya, and the analysis has informed identification of viable policy options for robust green growth trajectories for each country.

In the short term, this project has established a base of political knowledge that informs the ambition and achievability of green growth policy options in the energy sector in high-predicted economic growth countries. In the longer term, this will help decarbonise economic activities and allow these countries to become frontrunners of a low carbon world in a similar manner way Germany, Denmark and Costa Rica has.  These countries and their potential for green growth will subsequently be considered as positive examples for others to follow.

Update and Resources

In a short film released in July 2015, members of the project’s Advisory Board outline their expectations for the research and why it is so challenging and essential to forge energy security objectives with a credible green growth strategy.

The first phase of the research has focussed upon the Colombia component, which is currently underway. During this phase, and ahead of the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris, the team hosted a workshop in Bogota to gather expert opinions on the viability of Colombia’s current commitments to climate change mitigation, and what might be reasonably expected of Colombia in the future. The meeting was also an opportunity for different stakeholders to discuss various strategic, future-oriented questions in their field of work. The findings will feed into the Colombia stream of work in this project.

The Indonesian and Kenyan components of the research will commence in early 2016.

CDKN funding: £270,000

Image credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT

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Project Highlights