The Coming Carbon Tsunami: Developing Countries Need A New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, countries have released one and a half trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The largest cumulative emissions have come from countries that are now prosperous enough to pay for policies that can place them on the path to net-zero emissions by midcentury. Efforts to ensure that today’s largest polluters rapidly curb their emissions are vitally important, but this progress risks being erased if poorer countries find it impossible to pursue a low-carbon development strategy. In order to simultaneously preserve the environment and help lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, rich countries must provide financing and policy support at a scale that has so far been unavailable to poorer countries. The process of global climate negotiations is necessary but not sufficient to solve the climate crisis. This work needs to be coupled with efforts to ensure that developing countries can access sufficient resources to pursue low-carbon development strategies. The public and private sectors must mobilize financing for the roughly two dozen countries where economic growth could cause large increases in emissions in the near future. 

By Kelly Sims Gallagher. Foreign Affairs. January/February 2022.

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