Climate change

Low Carbon Development

Developing strategies to reduce poverty without worsening climate change.

Harnessing Nature, Tommy Clark CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Flickr
Edited by Tracy Zussman

One of the key questions at the heart of the development agenda concerns how countries can achieve poverty reduction and improved human development outcomes in ways that do not worsen climate change. The answer lies in identifying where the synergies and possible trade-offs are between reducing carbon emission and reducing poverty and then working out which of these are politically and economically feasible. Simple right?

Well... not quite. For one thing these synergies differ greatly from country to country - especially between middle income and low income countries - and their feasibility will be tied to the extent to which those countries buy-in to the low carbon development agenda.

Carbon emissions are produced from activities across the whole economy but the relative importance of different sectors for economic growth and poverty reduction varies enormously between countries. The energy sector is likely to be important in every country, but the relative importance of other sectors like agriculture, transport and waste management will need to be weighed up against the potential benefits of greener growth - better energy security, new opportunities for jobs and exports, improvements in health etc. In addition, the links between climate change adaptation and opportunities for building resilience and reducing vulnerabilities to climate change should also be considered.

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Alan Stanley 

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Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS)

Governments need to be able to assess these complex synergies and trade-offs as rigorously as possible in order to make decisions and implement appropriate actions. In the jargon of low carbon development this analysis and planning process is called a Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS).

Because of the wide variation in what different countries will need from LEDS there is no universal formula or set of tools for producing them. However several agencies have initiatives that support the development of LEDS in various ways. These include UNDP, EU, the World Bank's ESMAP programme, CDKN, ClimaSouth, LEDS Global Partnership (LEDS GP) and various bilateral donors.

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Continue reading: Key elements of strategies

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Key elements of strategies

Learning from the development of LEDS to date suggests that strategy processes are likely to need to include a number of key elements. Firstly they require a well defined vision that reflects the particular country context and development goals. They will then need to gather data to understand the current situation with respect to greenhouse gas emissions and the socio-economic and environmental context. This data then provides a baseline from which planners can model future scenarios for  the medium to long term, analyse the costs and benefits of different options and, ultimately, prioritise the most appropriate and beneficial policies and measures.

Elements of effective LEDS ClimaSouth 2015.jpg

Elements of effective LEDS, ClimaSouth 2015

</p><p>Elements of effective LEDS, ClimaSouth 2015</p>

Source: Low-Emission Development Strategy (LEDS) Handbook no.5, ClimaSouth, 2015

For the strategy to succeed will require the buy-in of a wide range of stakeholders from government ministries, local government, the private sector, civil society and the general public so a detailed mapping of who needs to be involved and some creative thinking about how to engage with those groups, from the very beginning of the process, is important.

The resulting strategy needs to integrate well with other national or local government development plans and provide sector specific actions that take account of both the technical capacity and financial resources required. These should be presented clearly showing how priorities were determined in a transparent and inclusive manner.

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