Climate change policies in the Asia-Pacific: re-uniting climate change and sustainable development

Report / Paper

Climate change policies in the Asia-Pacific: re-uniting climate change and sustainable development

AUTHORS: Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)

PUBLISHED DATE

May 2012

RESOURCE

Based on strategic research carried out at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), this paper is a summary of current climate change policies in Asia-Pacific. It explains why it is necessary to integrate climate change and sustainable development in Asia and how this might be best achieved. It also looks at a range of other areas, including: actions on climate and development, mitigation and adaptation – sectors and actors, deforestation risks and opportunities for rural communities in the region, and prospects and challenges of bio-fuels in Asia. It is explained that Asia is already experiencing adverse impacts of climate change.  Projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that such impacts will become even more intense in the future. While the contribution of developing countries in Asia to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is increasing rapidly, per capita emissions are still low and developmental challenges remain significant. Future efforts by developed countries to reduce GHG emissions through cost-effective mitigation actions, however, offer the possibility of creating new opportunities in developing countries in Asia that will contribute to their sustainable development. Therefore, strategies to integrate climate and development actions requires prompt and careful consideration from policymakers in Asia.  The authors prioritise four areas: 

  • building a fair, effective, and flexible post-2012 climate regime
  • enhancing the region’s adaptive capacity
  • utilising market mechanisms more effectively
  • building a low carbon society and exploiting developmental co-benefits

Key recommendations in this paper include:

  • since much of Asia’s energy and material infrastructure will be built over the next few decades, regional policymakers and investment agencies should pursue a low carbon, climate resilient developmental path and ensure that climate change concerns are fully considered in all infrastructure investments
  • Asian countries should work together to formulate a post- 2012 regime that (i) is characterised by a multi-stage, multi-track framework with differentiation of countries based on national circumstances, responsibility, and adaptation needs, and (ii) includes progressively increasing emission reduction and adaptation commitments or actions, technological incentives and compliance provisions
  • climate extremes already take a terrible physical and human toll on the Asia-Pacific region and global climate change will make the situation worse. A “wait and see” attitude to climate change is no longer enable and “no regrets” adaptation measures need to be implemented now
  • there is no single “silver bullet” technology that will overcome global climate change, but there are many promising technologies that will contribute to the solution. Barriers to the accelerated deployment of promising technologies need to be overcome through partnerships at many levels.