Discussion Paper

A Proposal for a Consultative Group for Low Emissions Development

Jun 7, 2011 | Abigail Jones, Christian Downie, Nigel Purvis

Abstract

Interest in low emissions development is growing in many parts of the world for both climate and nonclimate reasons. Yet in order to pursue low emissions development, gaps in knowledge and implementation capacity must first be identified and and then filled through peer-to-peer learning and applied research. Governments, multilateral development banks, and nongovernmental organizations are responding to country-led efforts to implement low emissions development policies through an array of country-specific programs and projects. Most of these international programs operate independently, with collaboration among implementing agencies occurring on the margins at the national or local level. While these initial efforts are laudable and have yielded valuable knowledge and progress, the opportunity is ripe to leverage these activities for greater impact. Greater global cooperation through semiformal coordinating mechanisms could ensure greater coverage of low emissions development activities, enhance the scale and predictability of funds, and improve the ease with which countries engage in peer-to-peer exchanges. We propose that a new Consultative Group on Low Emissions Development (CGLED) could serve as this coordinating mechanism.

A number of major emerging economies are embracing a transition toward low emissions development as their preferred economic growth pathway. China and South Korea, for example, are investing heavily in clean energy to stimulate economic growth, improve public health, and control the commanding heights of the 21st-century energy economy. While interest in low emissions development is growing, what policies work under what conditions and proven best practices have yet to be determined.

Governments, multilateral development banks, and nongovernmental organizations have launched independent, country-specific programs to help fill these gaps. Although these initial undertakings are laudable and have yielded valuable knowledge and progress, such an ad hoc approach can lead to waste, duplicitous efforts, and overlap. The opportunity is ripe to leverage these activities for greater impact.

In a new RFF Discussion Paper, Visiting Scholar Nigel Purvis and coauthors Abigail Jones and Christian Downie call for the creation of a new Consultative Group on Low Emissions Development (CGLED) to leverage these distinct activities for greater impact. The CGLED would improve global cooperation through a semiformal coordinating mechanism to help nations tailor sector- and region-specific best-practice policies to local circumstances, enhance the predictability of funds, and improve peer-to-peer exchanges. It would also provide structure for efforts to scale up international funding in the medium term, without prejudging ongoing global climate negotiations.

The past years have shown that, regrettably, there are few climate ideas that attract broad support around the world. However, a CGLED to help nations achieve their own national development goals may just be the exception to that rule.