Emissions and technology- (30.11.03)

Forecasts for climate change are being based largely on assumptions of economic change in the developing world. This assumes that over time less developed countries will catch up with the industrialised world and will therefore suffer from the same exponential growth in emissions that the industrialised world achieved in reaching their positions.

This is likely to overstate the growth in emissions in the developing world. If they are to achieve high rates of growth, it will only occur with appropriate use of new technology. Energy efficient technology itself may to a large extent be the method through which the industrialised world reduces emissions whilst still achieveing economic growth. The most likely scenario is that emissions will stabalise and then decline because of economic growth in the developing world. It is a greater risk that economic development and the spread of new technology does not occur. This is the type of poverty itself that leads to environmental destruction like the rain forests.

The environmental movement needs to be careful not to reject economic growth in developing countries. This will only reduce the likelihood that developing countries will sign up to the international protocols required to deal with climate change and emissions. Forecasts of global warming that are based on developing country growth and blame economic development for this are not helpful in the debate.