Climate change, energy access and sustainable development

Interlinked challenges in the BASIC South

20 April 2012 | Minutes

This was a civil society meeting organised by BASIC South Initiative on 18 April 2012, Washington DC.

Panelists: Dr. Renosi Mokate (Executive Director at the World Bank for South Africa, Angola and Nigeria), Joanna Lewis (Georgetown University), Alexander Wang (Shanghai International Studies University, currently a visiting Scholar at American University), Adhemar Mineiro (Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, Brazil), Charlie Heaps (Director of Stockholm Environment Institute, US)

Developing and emerging economies face a two-fold energy challenge in the 21st century: Meeting the needs of billions of people who still lack access to basic, modern energy services while simultaneously participating in a global transition to clean, low-carbon energy systems. Both aspects of this challenge demand urgent attention.

Dr Renosi Mokate

  • Sustainable energy access is essential for the Millenium Development Goals and to increase standards of living, but clean energy is still too expensive, meaning that many are still turning to fossil fuels
  • Important to increase people’s consciousness to managing demand, we’re not out of the wood in terms of using fossil fuels
  • Policy and regulatory frameworks are needed, governments need to address market failures and access to technology for developing countries
  • Question how to correlate green energy and green growth in an inclusive way
  • Governments should stimulate investment – developing policy frameworks is important, but implementation also key
  • Growth of global renewables market indicates that the technology area continues to evolve – we need to focus on this
  • Sustainable Energy for All initiative has been set up to address these issues
  • We need lasting solutions, and the time to implement has arrived. We need to act together as partners and consistency and diligence, including greater financing for cleaner technologies.
  • Human health and environment must also be taken into account when using natural resources
  • Durban platform set up to supersede Kyoto post 2015 and countries need to commit to this process. Civil society, academia, private sector, our own families all need to be part of global action.
  • WB is working on this issue, seeking to assist and guide in finding the path to recognise the challenges we face

Charlie Heaps

  • Presentation of study of how to provide energy for all in a climate constrained world, with scenario analysis: how global energy systems could be reconfigured to address sustainability whilst also providing meaningful development
  • Three scenarios: Baseline – where we seem to be headed at the moment (no major efforts tackling climate change or energy access), Basic energy access – what would the world look like (with major efforts to mitigate climate change), Shared development agenda (SDA) – goes further, more fundamental levels of development, all regions in the world middle income or higher, poorer regions growing faster, richer slower
  • Also analysis on how gini coefficients could change in the future: Baseline – about the same, but still expecting lower levels of people in poverty, SDA – rapid differences
  • Baseline 97% chance exceeding 2 degrees temperature increase under climate change, SDA 60% chances of 2 degrees
  • Conclusion (see report for further details): SDA does entails significant risks, high chance of exceeding 2 degrees and this might also not be the right target. Mitigation goals challenging, but technically feasible. Will require significant action in all regions, and increase in energy intensity.

Adhemar Mineiro

  • Also need to talk about quality of development
  • Adjustments in the 80s til now, the debt crisis, the volatility crisis in the 90s onwards and financial liberalisation
  • In Latin America countries were set on a path of production of commodities, e.g. agricultural and mineral, leading to lots of environmental pressures in the region, which were also intensive in energy
  • E.g. in Brazil, hydro dams and bioethanol, including impact of the expansion of soya
  • The development model based on natural resources extraction, export driven to Europe and Far East.
  • Undermined regional integration, since producing similar products
  • Also impact on family farms and the food production inside the countries
  • Now seeking path to more socially balanced growth, which needs food and energy supplies
  • 2008 crisis provides possibilities to discuss the neoliberal agenda, highlighting the importance of regulation
  • Job incomes, environment and climate change now again at the top of the agenda, providing new alliances and solutions
  • There is a possibility of rethinking the system, including new discussions on how to finance development, such as financial transaction tax
  • There are also new actors in the process, such as the BRICS and BASIC countries
  • The climate and Rio process, as well as trade and development (WTO and UNCTAD) provides opportunities
  • Looking forward there is a need for efforts to change the model of production, distribution and consumption, with distribution as an important focal point for change

Joanna Lewis

  • Low carbon leapfrogging – is it possible? Presentation of a study.
  • Innovative technology is being used and the governments have a role to play, e.g. China has recently overtaken India on windpower
  • There are different models for aquiring technology
  • Licensing is common, but can mean that the technology is outdated
  • Mergers & Acquisitions can obtain control and absorbs knowledge, but needs resources
  • Joint development avoids market competition and concerns about intellectual property rights, but carries other risks
  • Technological advances means more energy output, e.g. comparing old wind turbine fleets to new ones
  • Policy environment important, e.g. China doesn’t have great wind resources, India has better, but was a policy choice
  • Should be commercially driven, and policy on research and development can help
  • Government can facilitate technology transfer and collaborative research and development
  • Sustainable technology advances are possible in relatively short amounts of time
  • Licensing is relatively inexpensive to acquire technology, but the future potential is limited

Alexander Wang

  • Study of China and environmental regulations in relation to outward FDI
  • Chinas perspectives and its practices in Africa, where it has received increased criticism
  • But China not main aim for Chinese investment, that is South East Asia, Africa only receives about 3.1%, so not proportionate to the attention it receives
  • Chinese government has recognised 80.9% of its projects in Africa carries environmental risk
  • Efforts have been made, e.g. A guide on green loan by in 2012, A guide to invest abroad by Chinese enterprises in 2011.
  • So, can’t say Chinese government pays little attention
  • DRC case study of SICOMINES, received criticism but hadn’t started, pollution comes from KCC, with a UK company