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Climate change and development: overview

Publication date:
F. Yamin
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Although climate change is now firmly established as a global threat, policy-relevant research into the impacts of climate change on vulnerable, poorer countries is a relatively new development. This document from the Institute of Development Studies provides an overview of the issues covered in the IDS bulletin: “Climate Change and Development”.The paper begins with a summary of the current climate change regime and how this came to stand. Although it is now universally recognised that fossil fuel consumption is leading to increased levels of atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG), global concensus on how to deal with the problem- as well as how to aportion responsibility- remain. Developing countries, cognisant of their enhanced vulnerability to the effects of climate change, have broadly supported the deep cuts of GHG emissions agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol. Despite a change in direction by the USA, which decided not to ratify the Protocol in 2001, Kyoto has moved forward with broad support from industrialised and developing countries alike.The paper presents four core sets of research and policy issues:Adaptation, development and funding: discusses how climate change will impact the most
vulnerable populations, appropriate policy responses and institutional and funding arrangements to enhance coping capacitiesMitigation, livelihoods and sustainable development: examines ways of integrating climate mitigation into increased levels of sustainable development and sustainable livelihoodsParticipation, social movements and political transformations: little work has been done on delineating the possible impact of climate change on social movements and their potential transformation of national and international political landscapesMapping future development policy, practices and discourse: this section argues that development is no longer measurable, predictable and subject to the universal treatment of economic theory. It is further suggested that development institutions rethink their operations in order to function better in a world where unpredictability is the norm. Finally, policy coherence and institutional coordination is presented as being an emergent challenge.The paper concludes that:future climate negotiations need to engage a broader constituency of policy makersgalvanising greater engagement could be achieved by bringing together the climate community with the development community; the UN Conference of Parties (COP) could be the right “policy space” for such dialogueresearch into dealing with shocks, surprises, and unpredictability is needed. Existing research does not reflect well broader shifts in social science thinkingthere is still a fundamental lack of shared understanding about which actors, what policy spaces and what kinds of knowledge should inform the formulation and implementation of climate policy.