|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Commission on Sustainable Development
8th & 9th Meetings (AM & PM)
Sustained Economic Growth key to Poverty Eradication, Achievement
of Development Goals, Commission on Sustainable Development told
Discussions Focus on Energy for Sustainable
Development, Industrial Development, Air Pollution, Climate Change
Sustained economic growth, driven by industrial development, was key to poverty eradication and the achievement of development goals, the Commission on Sustainable Development heard today, as it continued its fourteenth session.
At its current session, the Commission is reviewing progress in meeting internationally agreed goals and targets in the areas of energy, industrial development, air pollution and climate change. (For background on the session, see Press Release ENV/DEV/887.)
Many developing countries had experienced significant economic growth rates, owing to industrial development and their ability to benefit from globalization, it was noted in one of four panel discussions held today. However, that was not the case for some, particularly the least developed countries and some small island developing States. “The rising tide of prosperity had led Africa far, far behind”, noted Ahmed A. Hamza, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Engineering at Alexandria University in Egypt, who attributed Africa’s lag in industrial development to, among other things, inadequate infrastructure.
The unique challenges faced by small island developing States in industrial development included their size, limited resources and geographic circumstances. With trade liberalization, said one speaker, it had become almost impossible for those States to produce at competitive prices, to even maintain their share of the markets. There were also external factors that those States could not control, such as transport and fuel costs and fierce competition by large countries involved in mass production.
International cooperation was vital to address obstacles such as insufficient resources, inadequate infrastructure and lack of skilled labour. In that regard, speakers called for the transfer of technology and the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers to products from developing countries.
Another key challenge was reconciling the significant input of energy required in developing countries to sustain industrial development with environmental concerns. As stated in the Secretary-General’s report before the Commission, energy use for power generation, in industry and transport, particularly from fossil fuels, released large amounts of air pollutants and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Developing countries, particularly least developed countries and small island developing States, were especially vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.
Indeed, climate change threatened to undermine attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and the economic growth the poor people so desperately needed, Sir Gordon Conway, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, told a panel discussion this afternoon on the inter-linkages between climate change and sustainable development. Economic growth, on which the future livelihoods of poor people would depend, would likely be critically affected by climate change. It was essential, therefore, that climate change was factored into national planning processes.
During a discussion this morning on air pollution, a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed to the current energy crisis, with half the world’s population, or 3.2 billion people, relying on solid fuels, such as wood and coal, to meet their most basic energy needs. The resulting air pollution was a major public health tragedy. Sadly, every day, 4,000 people died from respiratory diseases caused by burning such fuels, often in unventilated space. That was the result of unavoidable human need for basic energy to prepare a meal, boil water and keep warm. There was no doubt that cleaner household energy solutions could dramatically transform the lives of half the world’s population. Unfortunately, however, virtually no progress had been made since 1990, and the international community was largely unaware or ignored the problem.
A key report launched by the WHO today, “Fuel for Life”, noted that to reduce by half the number of people using health-damaging fuels by 2015 meant that nearly half a million people would need to gain access to cleaner fuels every day until 2015. That seemed impossible, he said, and it would still leave 1.5 billion people unserved. But analysis showed that investment in cleaner energy paid off. The report showed that an investment to provide half of those currently using solid fuels with cleaner fuels would produce a sevenfold economic return.
The Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 5 May, to continue with its parallel thematic discussions.
Thematic Discussion on Industrial Development for Poverty Eradication
In a panel discussion this morning, chaired by Azanaw T. Abreha ( Ethiopia), the Commission focused on accelerating industrial development for poverty eradication. The panellists were Ogunlade R. Davidson, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sierra Leone; Ahmed A. Hamza, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Engineering at Alexandria University in Egypt; Evans Kituyi, Head of the Division on Environmental Chemistry at the University of Nairobi; and Edward Clarence-Smith, Senior Industrial Development Officer and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Coordinator for the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
During the discussion, it was recognized that industrial development was a key element of economic growth, which contributed to poverty eradication, improved living standards and the achievement of sustainable development. Many developing countries had experienced significant economic growth rates, owing to industrial development. And crucial for sustainable industrial development was the creation of a flourishing small and medium-sized enterprises sector. In addition, taking advantage of trade liberalization had been an important element of successful industrial development stories.
Globalization had brought economic and social benefits for most of the world, but as Mr. Hamza stated, “The rising tide of prosperity had led Africa far, far behind.” Africa’s lag in industrial development was due to, among other things, inadequate infrastructure, he noted. However, industrial policies were being reformed to encourage market competition, and the role of small and medium-sized enterprises was receiving more attention. Also, there were growing trends towards liberalization of investment regime, and reforming institutions to enable operations with accountability, competence and the rule of law. All of which were promising for creating a sound basis for industrial development in Africa.
Mr. Hamza also emphasized the need to conduct environmental impact assessments to mitigate potential adverse impacts on the environment when setting up industries. To ensure the sustainability of industrial development, particularly in least developed countries, he emphasized the need to rely more on voluntary action, rather than enforcement of environmental laws and regulations; the need for cleaner production, concentrating on low- and no-cost measures; and the need to improve practices for waste recycling and reuse.
Also focusing on Africa, Mr. Kituyi stressed the key role of small- and medium-scale enterprises in the social and economic development of the region. Such enterprises contributed significantly to gross domestic product (GDP), and employed between 5 to 15 per cent of the working population -- outside of the agricultural sector -- on the continent. However, that picture was not sustainable, since it had been achieved at a great cost to the environment and society. Industrial pollution around many African capitals today was presenting new challenges to local authorities. The barriers to industrial development in Africa could be broadly stated as policy, technical, financial, structural and financial challenges.
Several speakers said the obstacles faced by developing countries with regard to industrial development included insufficient financial resources, inadequate infrastructure and lack of skilled labour. International cooperation was key, with participants calling for, among other things, technology transfer and the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers to products from developing countries. The highly competitive global environment, said one speaker, was difficult for developing countries to enter, and measures were required to maintain market access. Likewise, many countries faced difficulty in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).
Echoing the call for international cooperation, several speakers highlighted the unique challenges faced by small island developing States to industrial development, including their size, limited resources and geographic circumstances. With trade liberalization, said one speaker, it had become almost impossible for those States to produce at competitive prices, to even maintain their share of the markets. Productivity must be improved to remain competitive, and that implied the introduction of new and sometimes less labour-intensive technology, which, in turn, led to the laying off of workers. There were also externalities that small island developing States could not control, such as transport and fuel costs and fierce competition by large countries involved in mass production.
Among the other issues touched on were: the energy required in developing countries to sustain industrial development; the impact of civil and political strife on industrial development, particularly in Africa; the need for policies and strategies to create necessary industry support mechanisms, addressing in particular the needs of small companies; and the importance of supporting women entrepreneurs, including through microcredit.
Thematic Discussion on Air Pollution and Atmospheric Problems
Chairing the discussion was Javad Amin-Mansour ( Iran). Before hearing from the panellists, Walter Shearer, Director, Energy Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, presented an oral report.
The panellists for the morning’s discussion were: Carlos Corvalan, an environmental epidemiologist coordinating the work of the Occupational and Environmental Health Unit in the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva; Kirk R. Smith, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and holder of the Maxwell Endowed Chair in Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley; and Gianni Lopez Ramirez, Director of the Mario Molina Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, Chile, and 1995 Nobel Price recipient for Chemistry.
Also: Michael P. Walsh, a mechanical engineer working on motor vehicle pollution control issues at the local, national and international level, and member of the Executive Council of the Clean Air Initiative, Asia, as well as of the Steering Committee of the CAI-Asia, China Project; and Dr. Ivan Toms, Director of the City Health for Cape Town, South Africa.
Dr. Corvalan said that a key issue in defining and implementing better energy policies was articulating a vision and a motivation for action. Consideration of health provided that vision and motivation. In fact, health concerns were a major driver for improving air quality in the homes of the poor and for reducing human impacts on the global climate system. Whether energy polices were considered in terms of economics or public perception, health concerns were central. A wide range of assessments had shown that health impacts were often the largest single component of the costs of environmental degradation. Health was also the angle that made a direct and immediate connection to the general public. People expressed concern about environmental risks to their health and especially to the health of their children.
He said there was an energy crisis today, with half the world’s population, or 3.2 billion people, relying on solid fuels, such as wood and coal, to meet their most basic energy needs. The resulting air pollution was a major public health tragedy. Sadly, every day, 4,000 people died from respiratory diseases caused by burning such fuels, often in unventilated space. That was the result of unavoidable human need for basic energy to prepare a meal, boil water and keep warm. That silent domestic killer was responsible for the deaths of nearly 800,000 children and half a million women every year. There was no doubt that cleaner household energy solutions could dramatically transform the lives of half the world’s population. Unfortunately, however, virtually no progress had been made since 1990, and the international community was largely unaware or ignored the problem.
The WHO was launching a key report later today on that neglected issue, he continued. The challenges were enormous. To reduce by half the number of people using health-damaging fuels by 2015 meant that nearly half a million people would need to gain access to cleaner fuels every day until 2015. That seemed impossible, and it would still leave 1.5 billion people unserved. But analysis showed that investment in cleaner energy paid off. The report “Fuel for Life” showed that an investment to provide half of those currently using solid fuels with cleaner fuels would produce a sevenfold economic return. All interventions considered, including improved stoves for burning solid fuels -- a temporary solution -- showed that the benefits always outweighed the investment, many times over. He hoped health was not used as the only argument, but such an intervention addressed clean energy for all, thus contributing to reducing, and eventually eliminating, deaths and disease resulting from current energy practices.
Mr. Smith said there was a tendency to think of health-damaging air pollution as an urban phenomenon, but globally the total health burden from air pollution fell predominantly on rural populations. That pollution was of three types: pollution in and around households from use of simple solid fuels for cooking and space heating; general rural ambient pollution in many parts of the world due to nearby urban and rural sources; and widespread exposures to ozone and other health-damaging secondary pollutants that could operate at intercontinental scales and affect rural and urban areas alike.
He said that about half the world’s households used biomass, or coal fuels, for cooking and heating in simple stoves. Such combustion produced substantial amounts of health-damaging pollutants of various kinds, including dozens known to be health damaging in animal and human studies. A large, if unknown, portion of that fuel was used in unvented stoves that released the pollution directly into the living area. Simple venting using chimneys and other methods, however, did not eliminate exposures, because the pollution was merely shifted a metre or two and, depending on local conditions, could still cause significant human exposures in communities.
There were significant health impacts of several kinds resulting from households solid fuel use, he said. The most clearly understood were chronic obstructive lung disease in women, and pneumonia in young children. Lung cancer was clearly shown to result from coal use, and a growing body of evidence linked it to biomass smoke as well. It was the strong evidence of solid fuel use as a risk factor for those three diseases that resulted in the recent WHO estimates that it was responsible for some 1.6 million premature deaths annually and was tenth in size among all preventable causes of ill-health in the world. Every month, however, additional studies showed a growing body of scientific evidence linking other important diseases to household solid fuel use, including tuberculosis, cataracts and other eye diseases, low birth weight, and cancers other than lung. A few studies were now under way to pin down the effects on heart disease and asthma, both of which were strongly linked to outdoor air pollution and passive and active tobacco smoking.
Mr. Lopez said that today’s discussion was mainly about how to face the increasing demand for energy in a context of very high petroleum prices. Meanwhile, however, the environmental impacts were growing. Bad air quality and the exposure of millions of persons meant a huge health impact. The primary pollutants and their reaction products had the potential to affect human health and ecosystems on large geographic scales, and additionally affect atmospheric visibility, weather systems and precipitation, and global climate. The other kind of air pollution problem was related to big business, mainly natural resources extraction, such as mining and hydrocarbons, and electric generation. The risks to environmental sustainability, owing to, among other things, lack of information, minor investment and political pressure and few emission standards, could delay several aspects of the Johannesburg plan of action in the Latin American region.
He said that altering the public transport system was a good place to start. The recent bus owners strike in Bogota, Colombia, showed the political determination necessary for that kind of change. New public transport systems were opportunities in the short-term, for better diesel buses running with filter traps. In the long term, new public transport systems could be opportunities for real low emission technology, like hybrid buses. That must be supported at regional levels, and promoted through benchmarks between cities, through the political will of the local authorities. In addition, the promotion of better public transport systems could be an opportunity for real capacity-building in air quality management. That could also help solve the lack of information, the lack of public institutional competence, and the lack of knowledge and investigation. Accountability was also crucial, both for governments and the private sector.
In the ensuing discussion, China’s representative acknowledged that his country had developed “too fast” in recent years, and with its energy based mainly on coal, that had further increased pressure on atmospheric pollution. Between 2000 and 2005, the consumption of coal in China had increased by 900 million tons and, thus, the sulphur dioxide pollution was “very, very grave”. In view of that challenge, his Government was attempting to undertake the following measures, among others: fundamentally change the economic structure in a way that raised energy efficiency and moved towards a “circular economy”, with greater reliance on science and technology; rely more on laws that emphasized prevention and treatment of atmospheric pollution at its sources; desist from “making new debts” and “return” old ones, by ensuring that all new projects to boost the economy were in line with the need to protect the environment and decreasing the pollution; developing new scientific technology to resolve the air pollution problems.
He said his Government would focus, in particular, on 113 cities, and seek to increase the air quality in those cities. It would aim to reduce levels of sulphur dioxide in those cities and carry out prevention and treatment of air pollution there. China understood that it also needed to control sulphur dioxide in power generators. Through those efforts, it hoped by 2010 that the national pollution emission of sulphur dioxide would be reduced by 10 percent from 2005 levels.
Venezuela’s representative said she endorsed what had been said by the panellists, particularly about the problems of atmospheric pollution in Latin America and the associated health impacts. Her country recognized the role of energy sources for sustainable development and the struggle against poverty, but for the past few days, she noted with concern the turn the current session was taking, namely the important question of pollution owing to the unsustainable use of energy resources for industrialization. Rapid urbanization and accelerated industrialization should be studied in depth and not be approached superficially. Human beings were affected more and more by atmospheric pollution, and millions of dollars being spent on health as a result would be better spent on amended development models that prevented the pollution in the first place. She, therefore, supported the efforts being undertaken by China.
The Russian Federation was dealing with air pollution in its cities and industrial centres, including levels of radioactive pollution in the atmosphere, its representative reported. Air pollution monitoring was being regularly conducted in 229 cities and 690 stationery posts of federal agencies. In most towns, concentrations of anywhere from five to 25 elements were measures. His country was also dealing with transborder transmissions, mainly concentrated on its western frontiers. According to data obtained from regular monitoring, the average concentration of certain pollutants, including sulphur, carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, had been lowered somewhat between 2000 and 2005.
He said his country was adapting its economic policy to global environmental requirements, including, for example, by introducing standards on automobile technology, such as banning the use of leaded gasoline. A first step on the road to creating safe automobile transport meant eliminating the export and import of obsolete cars and reducing the allowable standard of harmful gas emissions.
Focusing his comments on the transportation sector, Mr. Walsh focused on the effects from the 1 billion cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles on the world’s highways. Since 1980, there were an average of 11 million more cars on the roads each year, or a total of 23 million additional motor vehicles. The most rapid growth in that regard had been in Asia. Car growth in China had averaged 23 per cent per year in the past decade. Since most vehicles tended to be concentrated in cities, the result was serious urban air pollution. To address the problem, the industrialized world had pursued clean fuels and aggressive controls. Lead was being eliminated, and sulphur levels in Japan, the European Union countries and the United States were approaching zero. Thanks to the “clean fuels and vehicles partnership” created at the Johannesburg Summit, sub-Saharan Africa became lead-free at the end of 2005.
Despite those and other controls, however, he said that air pollution was increasing in many developing countries, and 35 per cent of the world’s population lived in countries with no vehicle pollution controls. Vehicles were also contributing to global climate change. The biggest problem was fuel quality. Leaded gasoline was still being used in parts of Africa, South America and Indonesia. Gasoline must be lead free and there must be near-zero sulphur, in order to optimize the benefits from advanced diesel and gasoline control technologies. Carbon dioxide remained a daunting challenge, but there was progress and leadership in China, Brazil, the European Union countries and Japan. “The United States was the worse laggard, but thanks to California and other States, we see some hope”, he said. Marine and aviation posed additional, huge challenges, he added.
Instrumental in the development and adoption of air quality management plan for Cape Town, South Africa, Dr. Toms said that, of a population of 3.3 million, approximately 40 per cent were unemployed. With the tourism economy growing, however, air quality was a key issue. Economic growth was at 5 per cent and strenuous efforts were under way to reduce poverty. The problem in and around Cape Town was “brown haze”, owing mainly from vehicle emissions. A strong south-easterly wind often blew that away. There were 13 monitoring stations, but last year, for 146 days, the level of pollutants exceeded international monitoring standards. In 2004, a new national environmental air quality act was adopted. That required local government to include within its integrated development plan an air quality management plan, which focused on priority areas or hot spots. The local plan also looked at listed activities and decided whether or not to license them. It could also set higher than national standards if it wished. The local development plans also addressed transboundary air pollution.
Thematic Discussion on Industrial Development and Sustainable Natural Resources Management
The Commission dedicated an afternoon panel discussion to promoting industrial development and sustainable natural resources management through sustainable consumption and production patterns. The panellists were Xuejin Zuo, Executive Vice President and Senior Research Fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences; V.S. Arunachalam, founder and Chairman of CSTEP, a Bangalore-based think tank studying technology and policy issues; and Ernst von Weizsacker, Dean of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California in Santa Barbara.
As the largest city in China, Shanghai was facing many challenges in promoting industrial development and sustainable natural resource management through sustainable consumption and production patterns, noted Mr. Xuejin. To address those challenges, the city sought to give higher priority to developing faster and more efficient public transportation; to requiring developers to improve the insulation of buildings to enhance energy efficiency; and to providing tax incentives for the use of cleaner energy and recycling, among other things. Shanghai was also promoting the use of liquefied natural gas for taxis to reduce pollutants from emissions. In addition, China had increased taxes charged on luxury cars, disposable chopsticks and other consumer goods.
He added that the fast growth in per capita income, especially in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, was driving changes in the lifestyle of the population, such as the structure of their housing, the means of transportation and their diet, a phenomenon mentioned by several speakers this afternoon. Although significant improvement in people’s standard of living was welcome, there was a risk that the new lifestyle could be more resource consuming, less environmentally friendly and less healthy.
Mr. Weizsacker felt there was a strong tension between environmental protection and industrial development because industrial development had a lot to do with the availability of energy and materials. It was scandalous, he stated, that the amount of energy available to the average Indian was only one twentieth of that available to the average American. But if everyone in India, China, Egypt, Brazil and other countries had the same consumption levels as those in America, the world would run out of energy resources very soon and have an unsolvable climate change problem, and there would be no end to nuclear problems.
Industrialization was taking place very rapidly in many developing countries and countries with economies in transition, speakers noted. While that was welcome, it must take place in an environmentally sustainable way. In that connection, a number of participants emphasized the strong link between energy and industrial development. It was necessary to ensure affordable energy access, increase energy efficiency and diversify energy resources. Given the impact of energy use on climate change, further efforts were needed to break the dependence on fossil fuels, as well as to develop environmentally sound production practices.
In the present context of globalization and trade liberalization, small island developing States were faced with fierce global competition, noted one speaker. As a result, those States had to lower their production costs in order to remain competitive. In doing so, the tendency was to move towards cheaper sources of energy for production, such as coal, which was more polluting. Therefore, an important issue to be addressed was how those States could remain competitive in the international market without resorting to the use of such cheaper, but more polluting, sources of energy.
The integration of environmental concerns into business practices could, in fact, lead to increased competitiveness, stated one speaker, noting that the cost of inaction should not be borne by future generations. Business relations could be an important driving force for sustainable development, she added.
Among the constraints identified regarding sustainable natural resources management by participants was the need to address lack of skills, keep up with rapidly advancing science and technology, and accelerate the pace at which companies adopted cleaner production policies. The lack of information was also cited as an obstacle. Consumers needed information on production so they could make sustainable choices. Accommodating national and regional aspirations within an international context was also mentioned. Why should a country move towards sustainable consumption and production if others were not?
Providing an example of another barrier, Mr. Arunachalam referred to the large potential for hydropower in India. However, it was difficult to pursue the development of hydropower because any mention of building dams drew fire from public groups over issues such as land acquisition and displacement of communities. One speaker wondered whether carrying out comprehensive options assessments could contribute to overcoming the barrier of public acceptance of such projects.
A significant challenge mentioned by one speaker was encouraging businesses to improve their environmental performance, beyond just meeting generic standards and regulations. In that regard, she mentioned the concept of “industrial symbiosis”, whereby one company’s waste became an input for another company’s operations.
Thematic Discussion -- Links between Climate Change, Sustainable Development
Chairing the thematic discussion this afternoon was Yvo de Boer ( Netherlands). It would be structured around the following topics: addressing relationships between energy consumption, efficiency, conservation and climate change; addressing relationships between industry and climate change; and combating climate change through national sustainable development strategies.
The panellists were: Jonathan Pershing, Director of the World Resources Institute’s Climate, Energy and Pollution Program; Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Chief Executive of the Tata Energy Research Institute in India; Sir Gordon Conway, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom and former President of the Rockefeller Foundation; Dr. Halldor Thorgeirsson, Deputy Executive Secretary, the Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn, Germany, and Coordinator of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice; and Steve Sawyer, head of Greenpeace International’s climate and energy campaign. JoAnne DiSano, Director, Division for Sustainable Development, presented an oral report.
Sir Gordon Conway said that the United Kingdom Government played a responsible and highly active role in promoting and funding programmes aimed at meeting the challenges of climate change. From his extensive travels to the developing world in the past year as chief scientist in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, he had two impressions: in 15 years or so, the glaciers atop Mount Kilimanjaro would have disappeared; and temperatures in the highlands of East Africa had risen by .5 degrees Centigrade since 1980, which was a phenomenal increase presaging a rise of 2 degrees in the next 100 years. There was a high correlation between that increase in temperature with mosquito populations and the growth in malaria. He had been increasingly struck during his travels by the central challenge of climate change for developing countries. Indeed, climate change threatened to undermine the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and the economic growth that poor people so desperately needed.
He said that more information about weather and climate in Africa was sorely needed, in order to forecast its effects on health, food production, water resources and other aspects of economic growth in the continent. It was critical to know precisely when and where, and with what magnitude, those effects would occur. The global network of World Watch Weather Stations, which provided real time weather data, was very poorly represented in Africa, and vast areas of central Africa were unmonitored altogether. To address that problem, the Global Climate Observing System had been established. The idea was to get climate change and meteorological experts to work with agricultural and health experts. Only then would it be possible to find ways to use climate change information for sustainable development. Climate risk management was crucial, but inevitably, adaptation to climate change was as complex a process as climate change itself.
Experience showed that one of the best defences against shock was to diversify the livelihood -- to increase the diversity of crops and livestock on a farm, or more generally, to have a wider set of sources of income for the household, he said. That meant having another crop that would grow and survive if a drought or flood knocked out one crop. Several factors were fundamental to adaptation capacity. Among them were access to diverse, independent income sources and strategies and education and skills to respond to constraints, as well as capital reserves and assets. As most everyone now knew, none of the Millennium Development Goals were immune to the effects of climate change. Moreover, economic growth, on which the future livelihoods of poor people would depend, would likely be critically affected by climate change. It was essential, therefore, that climate change was factored into national planning processes and, in particular, into the development of poverty reduction strategy plans and sectoral plans, especially those concerned with health and food production.
Mr. Thorgeirsson said participants did not disagree so much on what needed to be done, only on how to get there and in what order. All of the issues being dealt with at the current session were relevant to the Climate Convention because the lion’s share of emissions came from energy and industry. The biggest challenge was to influence the daily investment decisions, which would influence emissions levels in the future. The first obstacle, however, was that the economics were not right: the cost of emissions into the atmosphere was not borne by the emitter, but by the rest of humanity. That was a very serious flaw in the economics of energy, and that really influenced the decisions.
In terms of lessons learned, he said that decisions had been taken by Governments to change the economics of access to the atmosphere, namely through the Kyoto Protocol. The essence of that instrument was that participating industrialized countries put limits on their emissions, and that, in turn, created a host of positive responses. For example, that not only reduced emissions, but it promoted research and development and created market solutions. That also moved the climate change process out of the negotiating mode. Much action concerning climate change was taking place in the private sector and the carbon market. As for next steps, Governments were already turning their attention to the future, looking at what followed Kyoto and taking a broader view by considering strategic approaches for long-term cooperative action to address climate change. There was a need to seriously address the impacts of climate change through mitigation and adaptation, but there were limits to adaptation –- in no way could that replace mitigation.
In the discussion that followed, Brazil’s speaker said that the Climate Change Convention was truly a sustainable development convention, much more than a simple environmental convention. It spoke basically about change in the energy matrix, a change in the way people lived their lives, about unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. That was very much at the core of what sustainable development was about. There was a notion that some countries bore a historical responsibility or burden to lead the way towards a new model of cleaner energy consumption. It had been stated here that perhaps developing countries could actively participate in that common process. For the record, Brazil had about 100 projects in the pipeline, representing a huge amount of carbon. Developing countries were already really doing their part, he knew.
A representative from the Bahamas talked about the intensity of hurricanes off her coast, yet small island development States were still receiving little or no cooperation from international agencies. She called for a more comprehensive approach to data gathering, given that coping with global climate change served a larger purpose than only the survival of countries like her own. With the genesis of those hurricanes from Africa, she wondered whether the continent could help the islands predict the timing and intensity of the more devastating storms.
Pakistan’s representative said that the changing weather and climate was affecting water availability, food security, and human health and well-being. There was a growing recognition that climate change would likely reduce biodiversity, as well as the amount of goods and services supplied to Pakistan. That, in turn, would cause a reduction in mangrove cover and a loss of sandy beaches. The resultant shift in ecological zones would reduce the output of economic products, such as from the fisheries sector. Technology transfers were needed to offset such problems, and his country also needed assistance in assessing mitigation options. Thus far, such transfers had been limited to very few applications, but given the size of the country and the potentially devastating forecasts, much more support was needed.
Barbardos’ speaker said that, while countries like his contributed least to greenhouse gas emissions, they were most vulnerable to climate change yet least able to protect themselves from hurricanes and other impacts. He, therefore, suggested several urgent actions, including: support for implementation of adaptation measures, including concrete projects in the small island States identified and submitted by them; simplified funding procedures under the Global Environment Fund (GEF); urgent adaptation measures for such areas as coastal protection, water supply, transportation and relocation; and a five-year adaptation work programme under the Climate Control Convention. It was critical now to move adaptation beyond mere assessment of vulnerability to actual implementation of projects.
He also stressed the island’s urgent needs in the area of mitigation, echoing the view of previous speakers that adaptation was no substitute for mitigation; both should be pursued together in line with the responsibilities and obligations of parties under the Convention. He called for capacity-building for effective participation in the Convention, and the development of criteria for evaluating project portfolios and replicating United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) programmes for use by small island development States.
* *** *