I recently met with a Member of the Bangladesh Parliament to discuss the potential for mitigation in the agricultural sector under IIED’s work on the economics of climate change in the agricultural sector. Agriculture produces 10–12 per cent of total global emissions but also has considerable mitigation potential — 70 per cent of which is in developing countries — and I expected the Honourable Member, a well known climate change champion, to back the cause. But he did not seem entirely convinced. Why should decision makers listen? What’s in it for them?
For much of the developing world producing clean energy that also mitigates carbon emissions is a very low priority. After all, why should countries that haven't significantly contributed to climate change worry about reducing their relatively tiny carbon emissions? In any case who would pay for it all?
Everyone agrees that developed countries need to undertake a radical transformation if they are to assume their responsibilities for mitigating climate change. But what consequences would this have for the global South? Will climate change mitigation in the North undermine economic development in developing countries, or provide them with new opportunities?
To date, discussions of how to address climate change have focused far more on mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions) than adaptation (coping with the storms, floods, sea-level rise and other impacts that climate change will bri