Thursday, April 22, 2010

Development and Sustainability in the Context of Climate Change

Global warming poses a significant potential threat to future development activities and economic well being of large numbers of human beings. Climate change can be regarded as a potential effect of this global warming. The concept of climate change can be very well defined in the context of development and sustainability. These two key concepts are well established world-wide in the minds of both decision-makers and the general public. These issues are more explicitly related to climate change due to two reasons. First, there are scientific links between these issues and climate change phenomena. Second, such an analysis will add to the cogency of arguments to address climate change problems. Thus, it will help to underline essential point that climate change is a key element of the broader search for sustainable development paths.

A holistic approach is necessary because these broad themes overlap and are not easily separable. The concept of sustainable development (including its economic, social and environmental dimensions) provides a useful starting point. Therefore, the concept of sustainable development has evolved to encompass three major points of view: economic, social and environmental. Furthermore, there is increasing agreement that these three critical elements need to be treated in a balanced manner. Sustainability will depend on several factors including (1) climate change intensity (2) system vulnerability and (3) system resilience. Changes in the global climate (e.g., mean temperature, precipitation, etc.) could well threaten the stability of physical, ecological and social systems and subsystems. Existing international mechanisms and systems to deal with transnational and global problems are fragile, and unlikely to be able to cope with worsening climate change impacts. More attention may need to be paid to the vulnerability of social values and institutions which are already stressed due to rapid technological changes.

Historically, development of the industrialized world focused on material production.
Not surprisingly, most developing nations have pursued the economic goal of increasing output and growth during the twentieth century. The development paradigm shifted towards equitable growth, where social objectives were recognized as important as economic efficiency. Protection of the environment has now become the third major objective of development.

Many national policy decisions taken today could well affect future climate change prospects significantly. Economic analysis has a special role in contemporary national policymaking. Mainstream economics has often ignored many crucial aspects of the environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development. However, there is a small but growing body of economic analysis and an application which seeks to address such shortcomings. At the same time, national policymakers routinely make many key macro-level decisions. For example, many macroeconomic policies seek to induce rapid growth, which in turn could potentially result increase vulnerability to the future impacts of climate change. It could have an impact on both climate change mitigation and adaptation. These pervasive and powerful measures are aimed at addressing economic development, environmental sustainability issues. It should invariably have much higher priority in national agendas, than climate change. The strategies of climate change consistent with other national development measures are more likely to be effective than isolated technological or policy options. In sum, the highest priority needs to be given to finding win-win policies which enhance climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Justice and Equity in climate change: A Developing Country Perspective

Global warming poses a significant potential threat to future development activities and the economic well being of human beings. Climate change could also undermine social welfare and equity in an unprecedented manner. In particular, both intra- and inter-generational equity are likely to be worsened. Existing evidence clearly demonstrates that poorer nations are especially vulnerable to disasters. Climate change is likely to result in inequities due to the uneven distribution of the costs of damage, as well as of necessary adaptation and mitigation efforts. Developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts because they have fewer resources to adapt: socially, technologically and financially. Climate change is anticipated to have far reaching effects on the sustainable development of developing countries. Many developing countries’ governments have given adaptation action a high, even urgent, priority.

The current per capita emissions and historical contribution of developing countries to in the atmosphere is very small compared to the industrialized nations. It is argued however that the rapidly rising emissions from developing countries shall reverse this position in a few decades. The emissions from developing countries are growing at a higher rate than those for developed countries. It is likely that some developing countries may reach the emissions level of developed countries before the end of the next century. Yet, the per capita emissions in most developing countries shall remain far below those in industrialized countries. While the income gap is expected to narrow, the per capita incomes in developing countries shall remain a fraction of developed country incomes throughout the next century.

Climate change negotiations essentially ignore a key principle of climate change negotiation frameworks for a number of years. Industrialized nations have emitted far more greenhouse gas emissions compared to developing nations. The biggest responsibility and burden for action to address climate change should be taken by the developed world. Also, Rich countries therefore must support developing nations through financing and technology transfer to meet up the upcoming challenge. However, this notion of climate justice is typically ignored by many rich nations. The rich countries owe a carbon debt because they have already used more than their fair quota of emissions. Yet, by 2050 when certain emission reductions are needed by, their reduced emissions will still add up to be go over their fair share. Industrialized nations can certainly help pay off their carbon debt by truly helping emerging countries as a form of technology transfer, finance, and capacity building. So far, rich nations have done very little within the Kyoto protocol to reduce emissions by any meaningful amount. Meanwhile, they are negotiating a follow on treaty that brings more pressure to developing countries to agree to emissions targets.

A principal objective of the global climate change regime is to decide the norms for using
the atmosphere, a global common. This perspective has treated the climate change problem merely as a search for a globally efficient mitigation regime. The focus of mitigation debate is restricted to minimizing the size of the burden. The market equalization of marginal costs across nations has thus emerged as the sole means of deciding the participation of each nation in mitigation. The choice of efficient market instruments has been made the principle agenda for the global negotiations. This perspective, which justifies ignoring equity altogether, suits well the interests of industrialized nations in the climate change problem.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Decision of land-use change : Proximate versus Underlying Causes

There are lots of factor influenced in making land-use decisions and environmental and social factors interact to influence these decisions mostly. Land use decisions are made and influenced by environmental and social factors across a wide range of spatial scales, from household level decisions that influence local land use practices, to policies and economic forces that can alter land use regionally and even globally.
The causes of land-use change can be divided into two categories: proximate (direct or local) and underlying (indirect or root). The proximate causes of land-use change explain how and why local land cover and ecosystem processes are modified directly by humans. The underlying causes explain the broader context and fundamental forces underpinning these local actions. In general, proximate causes operate at the local level (individual farms, households, or communities). And, underlying causes originate from regional (districts, provinces, or country) or even global levels. However, complex interplays between these levels of organization are common. As a result, underlying causes also tend to be complex, formed by interactions of social, political, economic, demographic, technological, cultural, and biophysical variables. Some local-scale factors are endogenous to decision makers and are therefore under local control. However, underlying causes are usually exogenous (originate externally) to the local communities managing land and are thus uncontrollable by these communities. In general, underlying causes tend to operate more diffusely (i.e., from a distance), often by altering one or more proximate causes.
Interaction of Causes
Land-use change is always caused by multiple interacting factors. The mix of driving forces of varies in time and space according to specific human-environment conditions. Biophysical drivers of land use change, such as droughts induced by climate change or loss of soil fertility by erosion may be as important as human drivers. It also includes economics and policy. As a result, biophysical factors tend to define the natural capacity or predisposing conditions for land-use change among localities and regions. Both biophysical (a drought or hurricane) and socioeconomic (a war or economic crisis) factors are responsible for land-use changes.
Crop choice decision also affects the decision to change in land use pattern. Land use change and crop choice decisions are determined simultaneously. Changing crop choices may lead to different profitability of farming operations, which may then influence land conversion themselves.
Other factors that have been found to influence land use change include land quality, land rents, population density, growth rates of population, per capita income, transportation, and accessibility to urban centers, demographic characteristics such as age and education, and policy. Land use rents are also considered as important land use change determinants.
Therefore, land-use changes tend to be driven by a combination of factors that work gradually and factors that happen intermittently.