Integrating development and climate policies

Bert Metz, Marcel Kok
2008 Climate Policy  
Social and economic development is strongly related to climate change. It is now well established that climate change and its impacts can have a very negative influence on people and their economies, for example on agriculture or in areas vulnerable to droughts and floods. The livelihoods of the poor, young and elderly will be most seriously undermined by extreme events (e.g. droughts, floods, epidemics) as well as more subtle changes (e.g. different disease vectors, heat stress, changes in
more » ... ess, changes in growing season). The global effort to fight poverty, confirmed again with the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, will be seriously hampered if mitigation and adaptation to climate change are not addressed. Paradoxically, social and economic development is the very driver of climate change. The way in which human societies have transformed the land over the past centuries to produce food, timber and fuel, and the use of coal, oil and natural gas to fuel our economies are directly responsible for the strong increase in GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. The trends in exploitation of natural resources and the use of fossil fuel are not changing. Projections into the future show a further decline in the forests and natural vegetation and a further increase in greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating climate change. The question is how to reconcile the development aspirations of countries with the challenges posed by human-induced climate change. The complex relationship between development and climate change necessitates a two-way approach, embracing: ■ The influence of climate change and (climate change) policy/strategy/action on development. ■ The influence of development policies, strategies and decisions on climate change. This applies to development strategies that reduce vulnerability to climate change ('climate-safe' development or 'climate-proofing' development) as well as 'climate-friendly' or 'low-carbon' development strategies. Both perspectives are important in order to engage effectively with the projected change in the climate. However, dealing with these aspects independently is not enough. Given the interconnectedness of development and climate change, only an integrated approach could work. Such an integrated approach moves towards what is normally called 'sustainable development'. Integrating (or mainstreaming) climate change is what needs to be done, for both industrialized and developing countries. This looks like an obvious idea and has been embraced widely in policy debates. Who can be against sustainable development? However, when it comes to specific issues, the same people who strongly support sustainable development for example object on the grounds of cost, and they
doi:10.3763/cpol.2008.0523.8.2.99 fatcat:nli3hzki7nh4ziz5j4uvnswzza