Climate change is primarily a development issue. It threatens to exacerbate poverty rates and harm economic growth. At the same time, how different countries grow and the investments they make to meet the energy, food and water needs of their citizens either fuel climate change and increase risks around the world or contribute to finding solutions.
In a lecture to students at Georgetown University in Washington, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim outlined eight key areas where growth policies and options can help reduce the drivers of climate change.
“The economy must continue to grow, growth is inevitable…But what we must do is decouple growth from carbon emissions,” Kim said in the lecture.
1- Carbon Pricing
Reducing carbon emissions starts with clear policy signals.
Carbon pricing systems (e)—such as emissions trading with caps or per-ton carbon taxes—send long-term signals to companies by creating incentives to reduce polluting behavior and to invest in clean energy options and low-emissions practices.
About 40 countries and more than 20 cities, states and territories impose or are about to do so through emissions trading systems or carbon taxes, and these numbers are growing. Korea was the latest country to establish a carbon market. China, which has seven pilot markets in cities and provinces, saw emissions decline last year.
2- Ending fossil fuel subsidies
Fossil fuel subsidies (e) send a different signal that encourages waste and discourages low-carbon growth. By phasing out harmful fossil fuel subsidies, different countries can reallocate their resources to the most needed and most effective areas, including targeted support for the poor.
Subsidy reform is never a process. Citizens often do not realize the true cost of energy and must start increasing support for the poor with the gradual elimination of subsidies. The World Bank provides support for fossil fuel subsidy reform through a $20 million fund that will help countries design and implement subsidy reform programs and associated social protection systems.
3- Building resilient, low-carbon cities
Putting all the parts in their correct place is part of the equation. Another part is building a sustainable future because all development activities take place in a context of climate change.
Kim told the students that more infrastructure will be built in the next 20 years than in 6000 years ago. Cities are growing rapidly, especially in the developing world. About half of the world’s population lives in urban centers today, and by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to be home to cities. With careful planning of land transfer and use, and setting standards for energy efficiency, cities can be built in ways that prevent falling into unsustainable patterns. It can provide jobs and opportunities for the poor and reduce air pollution.
4- Increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy
Where we talk about energy we should talk about getting it. About 1.2 billion people around the world do not have electricity and another 2.8 billion depend for cooking on solid fuels such as wood, charcoal and coal, which cause severe damage by polluting indoor air. Through the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, the World Bank Group supports three goals until 2030: universal access to modern energy, doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and doubling the percentage of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
5- Implement climate-smart farming practices and forest expansion
The fifth area of action is in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Climate-smart farming practices help farms increase farm productivity and resilience to the effects of climate change such as drought, while at the same time they act as carbon sinks that help reduce emissions. Forests are also useful reservoirs for carbon capture and storage in soil, trees and leaves.
6- Converting carbon dioxide into rocks
Carbon mineralization involves converting carbon dioxide into carbonate minerals, by mimicking the way shells and limestone are made naturally. Experts discussed many technologies, including capturing carbon dioxide from industrial facilities using bacteria, and then using it to produce useful building materials as a by-product.
7- Make the Earth’s surface more reflective
Experts mean with this solution, the use of technologies that reflect solar energy (sunlight) into space, and thus interfere with planetary heating. Changing the reflectivity of surfaces, such as using darker white roofs, significantly reduces the heat absorbed and can cool cities. Under this solution, asphalt roads can also be covered with limestone, and studies indicate that these methods indirectly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by reducing the use of air conditioners.
8- Encouraging the trend of renewable energies in the means of transportation.
Experts have called for generous financial incentives to encourage zero-emissions vehicles (powered by hydrogen or electricity). It includes sales tax exemption and free parking in some places.
Experts said that Norway has a pioneering experience in this field, which resulted in nearly 60% of new cars that were powered by electric power.