Developing countries should pursue low carbon strategies with support from the global North, in order to avoid the “catastrophic consequences” of climate change, argues a new report launched today by ACT Alliance in Rio de Janeiro.
Titled “Facing the future: low carbon strategies – opportunities and challenges for developing countries,” the report points out that while industrialised nations should lead the way in cutting emissions, all countries need to take “immediate and ambitious action” to avert the impacts of the changing climate.
Calling on both rich and poor nations to “take quick steps to lower the carbon intensity of their fossil-based economies”, the report urges a move to “new, climate-friendly technologies based on renewable energy resources”.
“A shift to a low-carbon future should be seen as an opportunity worth taking for developing countries,” said Thomas Hirsch of ACT Alliance member Bread for the World during the launch event at RioCentro, ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20. “This requires inductive policies from governments as well as pressure from civil society,” he added.
The report studies existing low-carbon development strategies of three countries – Bangladesh, Mexico and South Africa – with the results highlighting the need to balance “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches to this issue. Low-carbon strategies should be developed with the involvement of civil society, and should protect the interests of poor people, Mr Hirsch said.
One barrier to “a low-carbon future” is the prevailing lack of belief that fossil fuels can be replaced in the next few decades; however, without this belief, the necessary steps will not be taken, Christoph Bal of GermanWatch emphasised.
“We need to build trust by acting, negotiating and building alliances in an upward spiral,” he said. “Putting the economy into context on planetary boundaries requires new models of the ‘good life’.”
Another speaker at the event, Brazilian bishop and ACT Alliance co-moderator the Rev Canon Francisco de Assis da Silva, concluded his address with a rallying cry to the governments attending Rio+20: “It is time for change, no longer just words.”