Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

Towards a Transatlantic Consensus on Climate Change

Global trends suggest massive future increases in energy use and consequent greenhouse gas emissions, the majority of which will come from developing countries. This paper - which was prepared for a 'High-level translatlantic dialogue on climate change' held in October 2003 - outlines the emissions situation in developing countries, summarises the current political context for future actions, and identifies specific actions that Europe and the United States could take to help address developing-country emissions.

The paper describes how some developing countries have already taken meaningful steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, if such countries are to successfully eradicate poverty and develop their economies, emissions will need to rise, at least in the short to medium term. How to minimise greenhouse gas growth, while promoting development is therefore a central challenge for this century.

While some propose to address this challenge by imposing emission reduction "commitments" on developing countries - for example, through the Kyoto Protocol - the authors suggest that there are other viable and more promising strategies. These include technology spill-over and transfers, greening of conventional financial flows, and emission reduction purchases by industrialised countries. They suggest that such strategies are eminently achievable, particularly if facilitated through transatlantic collaboration and leadership.