SEI Contact:

Elizabeth A. Stanton

Time-frame: 2011

Development Without Carbon

Climate policy is generally divided into two main areas of potential action: mitigation to reduce current emissions, and adaptation to protect against unavoidable damages. A third critical area of action – development without carbon – is often left out, or is subsumed under mitigation and adaptation.

Yet the interconnection between climate change and energy poverty is a crucial issue. How will low-income and low-human-development communities achieve development goals without increasing their per capita carbon emissions? How can communities everywhere be assured of secure, affordable, and sufficient energy sources with a low enough carbon content to be consistent with enormous reductions to global emissions of greenhouse gases?

This project will explore the interconnections between energy poverty, water systems, and climate change, which we call “development without carbon.”

The climate economics component of the project will review the current literature of government and NGO reports, peer-reviewed journals, and technical reports for models that focus on planning for low-carbon development. Building on existing empirical and theoretical work, we will design a framework for including development without carbon as a key objective in integrated assessment models, along with mitigation and adaptation.

In addition, project research on joint energy-water-climate planning will explore existing projects for synergistic modeling to incorporate climate projections in a WEAP-LEAP hybrid, including the development of a regional classification system to identify geographic and energy infrastructure characteristics relevant to low development carbon, as well as climatic and resource characteristics relevant to climate damage vulnerability.

The project will have a special focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. It will produce two short reports, which will be translated into Spanish, and will also lay the groundwork for future collaborations by identifying partner organizations and related researchers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.