Emerging economies can also make a lasting contribution to climate protection

Support of industrialised countries required

Emerging economies can also do their bit to meet global climate protection goals without fear of economic repercussions. This is the conclusion reached by a study conducted on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), according to which the six economically developed countries of Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea dispose of vast emission reduction potential, which in some cases does not even incur net costs and also, as a positive side-effect, creates jobs. In order to exploit this potential, however, the emerging economies need the support of industrialised countries. ”Industrialised countries carry a responsibility. They may not only make constant demands on emerging economies to comply with climate protection measures, they must show them how it can be done”, said Harry Lehmann, head of the UBA division responsible for climate protection issues.

In order to achieve the EU goal of limiting global warming to a maximum of two degrees warmer than in the pre-industrial era, international efforts to reduce emissions must include those of emerging economies for the period after 2012. Emerging economies are currently exempted from commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases according to the principle of ”common but differentiated responsibilities”. It is unclear how and how much emerging economies can be integrated into these efforts, how much they can contribute to mitigation of emissions, and what degree of support they require from industrialised countries.

On behalf of UBA, Ecofys and the Wuppertal Institute analysed in detail the situation of the major emitting developing countries Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea and concluded that all six countries dispose of considerable emission reduction potential which, should it be implemented, would also have other positive effects such as improvement of air quality. The majority of the measures to reduce emissions is possible at no extra net costs (‘no-regret’ reduction potential) and could lead to an average 9-percent emissions reduction in emerging economies. One example is energy efficiency measures that, on account of reduced energy consumption, compensate for the costs of investing in more efficient technology by generating profit. The emerging economies also have emission reduction potential with side effects not related to climate protection (‘co-benefit’ reduction potential), for example by creating jobs in the area of renewable energies. Use of heat energy, wind, and so on is supplied by the supply network of the respective country and would thus reduce dependence on fossil fuels. In so doing, up to an average 17 percent of emerging countries’ emissions could be saved. The foundation for this calculation is the ”business-as-usual” scenario, the theoretical assumption that no climate protection measures are taken by the year 2020.

To enable emerging economies to exploit all of their emissions reduction potential requires the help of industrialised countries, either financially or with transfer of knowledge and cooperation in research and development projects. The study also provides recommendations on how campaigns in these countries might be integrated into future climate policy, for example through introduction of emissions reduction goals in various sectors (on either a voluntary or obligatory basis), or via sustainable development measures.

German Environment Agency

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau
Germany