Trade, Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Trade, Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Key Issues for Small States, Least Developed Countries and Vulnerable Economies You do not have access to this content

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Commonwealth Secretariat
01 Dec 2009
9781848590007 (PDF)

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Responding to climate change is a global challenge with significant implications for small developing countries. Debate on how trade policy can mitigate the effects of climate change has so far centred on developed countries and the large emerging economies, especially China, Brazil and India, but what are the implications for small and vulnerable economies (SVEs), least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS)?

These countries are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change but they are least equipped to deal with changes in trade policy. Trade, Climate Change and Sustainable Development examines the opportunities and multiple large-scale challenges they face in adapting key trade sectors to the impact of climate change, addressing climate change measures, and furthering their own trade capacity and competitiveness in the global market.

This book is the result of a joint project between the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Geneva. It will be of interest to policy-makers and anyone who wants to gain a clear understanding of the implications of climate change on the economies of smaller developing states.
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  • Acknowledgements and Preface
  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Summary

    The interface between trade and climate change – both from the perspective of mitigation and adaptation – has entered the international high-level policy arena. The interests and concerns of developed and large emerging economies in this area have received significant attention. However, the prospects and perspectives of smaller developing countries – including small and vulnerable economies, least developed countries and small island developing states – remain obscure. Addressing that gap, this publication provides an analysis of trade and climate change concerns from the broad perspective of the economies of least developed countries, small and vulnerable economies and small island developing states, and goes on to examine a range of relevant sectoral and policy concerns in greater depth.

  • Introduction: key issues for smaller developing countries

    This chapter is intended primarily as an introductory guide to the debate on trade, climate change and sustainable development – a bird’s eye view of the linkages between climate change, on the one hand, and trade and sustainable development on the other, with some guideposts as to what might constitute an effective response. It provides in a non-technical and over-arching manner, a summary of the likely impacts of climate change on development in least developed countries (LDCs), small and vulnerable economies (SVEs) and small island developing states (SIDS) – that is, smaller developing countries (SDCs) – and how some of the impacts might affect the trade of these countries. This discussion is of vital importance to these smaller developing countries because as Paul Roberts has noted, ‘Worse, climate change is not an equalopportunity disaster. Whereas the northern, and richer countries might suffer relatively minor detriment or might even benefit in certain ways from global warming, the severest effects will be felt disproportionately in Africa, in parts of Asia and among some of the tiny island states’.

  • Responses to trade and adaptation challenges

    Achieving sustainable levels of development, characterised by conditions of economic and social equity, remains the fundamental foundation for undertaking effective societal responses to trade and climate change adaptation.

  • Trade and transport

    The international transport sector, including shipping and aviation, is of a particular nature, as reducing their greenhouse gas emissions does not fall directly within the jurisdiction of any country. Traditionally, the emissions have been out of sight and out of mind, and so regulation in international transport has been lagging. Discussions are now ongoing within the UNFCCC and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and voluntary approaches are being considered within the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

  • Technologies

    There is a growing international consensus that enhanced energy efficiency is the principal means economies have at their disposal to satisfy energy requirements while diminishing unwanted energy-related environmental impacts. Many recent high-level analyses (for example, the World Energy Outlook1 ) have demonstrated there is a very substantial cost-effective potential to improve the energy efficiency of end-use equipment, which if realised would bring large-scale benefits in terms of reduced energyrelated greenhouse gas emissions, lower-cost energy services and lower energy dependence. This potential is particularly important for developing countries with high energy-import bills, be they least developed countries or remotely located small island developing states.

  • Mitigation and adaptation in agriculture, fisheries and forestry

    Agriculture currently contributes significantly to the economy of many LDCs, SVEs and SIDS. On average, agriculture contributed about 2 per cent of GDP in developed countries in 2004, 11 per cent in developing countries and an average of 40 per cent in Africa (World Bank, 2007b). Globally, about 85 per cent of rural people derive their livelihoods from agriculture. In Africa, where more than 80 per cent of the population is rural, subsistence agriculture accounts for the livelihoods of about 90 per cent of this population, most of which live below official poverty lines.

  • Competitiveness and border measures

    Climate-related border measures to address industrial competitiveness concerns have been under discussion for several years. Border measures are highly controversial, as they are seen as ‘sticks’ rather than ‘carrots’ to encourage an inclusive approach to deal with the problem. Their legality under the World Trade Organization (WTO) has also been questioned. There are three dimensions to the border measures that are under consideration in the EU and US: the form the measures would take, the covered industries and the source countries covered.

  • Conclusions

    Least developed countries, small vulnerable economies and small island developing states already face the development challenge in its full complexity. Many are struggling to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, particularly since they are poor and lack the necessary financial and technical resources to achieve their goals. The development conditions and economic resource constraints of smaller developing countries often exacerbate their economic and climate change vulnerabilities and inhibit their ability to adapt to climate change in social, technological and financial terms. Already, many are being left behind in terms of trade growth and competitiveness, and the development and maintenance of trade-related infrastructure might also become more difficult as countries struggle to cope with climate impacts and adaptation demands.

  • Bibliography, References and Index
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