Climate and Development
Climate change is clearly the most significant development challenge of the 21st century. First, through its severe negative impacts on the natural, human, social and economic systems of developing countries, climate change could reverse decades of international development efforts and further limit the resources available to fight poverty in both rich and poor countries.
Some of the potential impacts of climate change in developing countries include increased frequency and severity of extreme climate events, reduced crop yield causing food insecurity, desertification, ecosystem collapse, fresh water shortages, lower incomes and scant economic growth, population displacement and exposure to new health risks.
Second, while large-scale economic development is needed to pull billions of citizens in developing countries out of abject poverty, a business-as-usual approach to development will exacerbate the problem of climate change with potentially irreversible long-term consequences.
Furthermore, poverty contributes to environmental degradation and climate change, which in turn, increases poverty and underdevelopment – the so-called poverty trap. A well known example of this is the relationship between poverty, population growth and deforestation in developing countries.
At the same time, while climate change poses profound challenges to international development, it also offers unique opportunities to pursue growth and build more resilient economies. The central challenge is, therefore, to find the opportunities and approaches that enable developing countries to adapt effectively to climate change and achieve accelerated but low carbon economic development. This is the mission of the Climate and Development centre.
Aims and Scope
The aim of the Climate and Development research is to help developing countries and their development partners understand climate impacts, identify opportunities, and design strategies for effective climate adaptation and low carbon development.
Research is also focusing on how best to reconcile the objectives of development, international justice and climate stabilisation in the treatment of developing countries in the global climate regime. Here, the goal is to ensure that international climate policies and architecture work for the poor.
Our work interacts with, and draws from, those of other Smith School research areas especially Environmental Sciences and Governance, Low Carbon Mobility, Private Sector Transformation and Environmental Economics. Interactions with these and a range of other stakeholders in academia, the private and public sectors is guided by the need for a holistic approach to climate adaptation, human development and capacity building in developing countries.
The ultimate ambition is that the research will quickly become an interdisciplinary hub pioneering academic, advisory, technical assistance and capacity building projects on the many different aspects of climate and development including:
- Energy security and low-carbon development
- The governance of climate adaptation and mitigation
- Climate prediction, modelling and impact assessments
- Climate change information and science for developing countries
- Climate change, agriculture and food security
- Cities, urban environment and migration
- Climate change and the water sector
- Technology innovation and renewable energy development
- Climate change and health
- The role of the market in climate adaptation and low-carbon development
- Climate change and international justice
- Forestry and ecosystems services
- Climate change and oil development
- Disaster studies of adaptation policy and practice
Strategies for Linking Energy Security and Low Carbon Development in Africa
Lack of good access to energy is arguably the greatest barrier to socio-economic development in Africa. Over-consumption of low-grade, traditional energy sources (fuel-wood, charcoal and non-woody biomass) is a major factor in increasing biodiversity loss, land degradation and vulnerability to climate change. Many African countries recognise the need for increased access to energy as a means of improving adaptation and climate resilience. Greater access to energy is also critical to achieving socio-economic development and meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
However, in a majority of these countries, there is neither reliable data for development planning purposes nor a clear sense of the most critical needs and policy instruments required to achieve this objective. Our work on this area focuses on identifying opportunities for low-carbon development and designing integrated strategies for linking energy poverty alleviation with low carbon growth. Key questions include:
(i) what are the opportunities and barriers to low-carbon development in Africa?
(ii) what polices, finance and institutional requirements are best suited for linking energy security and low carbon development in Sub-Saharan Africa?
(iii) what are the best practices for integrating system-wide sustainable development with climate mitigation and adaptation in the African region?
Climate Governance and Low Carbon Development
Effective governance mechanisms are critical preconditions for the transition to, and advancement of, low carbon development. However, our understanding of the characteristics of resilient adaptation and climate governance remains superficial. In addition to identifying opportunities for low carbon growth in developing countries, this work package explores the governance frameworks –institutions, actors, laws and policies – required at national and international levels to help poor countries achieve effective climate adaptation and resilient low-carbon development.
We study the interplay and the effect of different modes of governance, financial mechanisms, and technology options on efforts to achieve low carbon development in developing countries. We seek to deepen the understanding of the role of formal authorities and those of non-state actors (such as enterprise, community groups, faith organisations) and the interaction between these two types of actors on climate governance in developing countries. Furthermore, we explore the effects of climate change as well as global economic and climate polices on water availability, forests, urban development, health and agricultural systems in developing countries. Key questions are:
(i) what are the existing arrangements for governing climate adaption and low-carbon development in developing countries and how effective are these?
(ii) what are the roles and impacts of non-state actors in climate governance?
(iii) what are the links between global climate regimes and the governance of climate change in developing countries?
(iv) what are the impacts of climate change on urban development, water, agriculture, health and ecosystem services in developing countries and how are they managed?
Business Climate Strategies and International Development
Businesses play a crucial role in international development. However, their activities also constitute an important source of carbon emissions and environmental degradation in developing countries. Understanding the climate strategies of business, the factors that drive action and the role of the market in driving change is critical to achieving low carbon international development.
This work package focuses on exploring opportunities and drivers for linking private sector-led carbon management efforts and economic development in less industrialised countries. We are interested in analysing the relationship between political institutions and corporate climate strategies in developing countries. We are also interested in understanding policy and institutional requirements for scaling up sustainable energy ventures and constructing viable energy markets in developing countries. Key questions are:
(i) what are the motivations, drivers, and barriers to corporate climate actions in developing countries and how do these interact with national and international climate policies?
(ii) what are the most effective institutional frameworks for linking private sector-led carbon management efforts and economic development in less industrialised countries?
(iii) what are the best finance and policy options for promoting sustainable energy ventures and carbon in the developing world?
Climate Change and International Justice
Climate change is an issue of justice because the poor countries that contributed the least to current global climate change are the ones suffering the most from negative climate impacts. Failure to address climate change will exacerbate global inequality and potentially threaten national and international security.
Conflict over justice for poorer countries is clearly one of the most prominent features of the international climate regime with competing claims over how policies may be designed to realise these ideals often stalling environmental diplomacy. But while demands for, and scholarship on, climate justice represent a very significant aspect of the global climate governance landscape, there is still much to be done to clarify the implications and best approaches to climate justice within the context of the international regime.
This work package explores justice provisions in relation to climate governance at national and international levels and the effects of policies on different vulnerable groups and jurisdictions. Specifically, we explore:
- the dimensions of justice in climate change policy;
- the ways in which the current regime handles issues of justice;
- the ways in which principles of justice have been mobilised around specific issues in international climate policy (such as technology transfer, adaption funds, avoided deforestation) and the implications for climate governance;
- perceptions of justice that could provide alternative bases for future international climate policy.
Partners and stakeholders
The Climate and Development research has extensive interaction with a wide range of partners and stakeholders some of whom include:
- Centre for African Studies, University of Oxford
- Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
- HE John Kufor-led Alliance for Africa
- HR Wallingford
- James Martin 21st Century School
- Kenney School, Harvard University
- Kenyatta University, Kenya
- Kigali Institute of Science & Technology Rwanda
- Ministry of Environment Ghana
- Ministry of Environment, Nigeria
- National Physical Laboratory
- Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
- Nmadi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria
- Oxfam, GB
- Oxford Brookes University
- Oxford Department of International Development
- Oxford Institute for Energy Studies
- Oxford Policy Management Ltd.
- Rothamsted Research
- Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.
- South East Africa Climate Consortium
- Tsinghua University China
- University College London
- University of Cape Town, South Africa
- University of Nigeria Nsukka
- University of Rhodes South Africa
- University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Wilderness Foundation South Africa
- Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford
Smith School Staff
Dr. Chukwumerije Okereke – Head
Professor Sir David King, Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and Adviser on African Development to the European Commissioners
Dr. David Frame – Deputy Director, SSEE, Visiting Lecturer in Physics at Oxford University
Dr. Cameron Hepburn – Senior Research Fellow, SSEE
Ranjita Rajan – McKinsey and Company, Senior Research Fellow, SSEE,
Oxford University Associates
Dr. Velma I Grover – Coordinator, Freshwater ecosystem programme and Water Virtual Learning Centre at United Nations University, SSEE Visiting Fellow
Dr. Heike Schroeder – Tyndall Senior Researcher and James Martin 21st Century School Fellow, SSEE Associate
Professor David Anderson – Director, of the African Studies Centre, SSEE Associate
Smith School Visiting Fellows
Dr. Emily Boyd – Lecturer, School of Earth and Environment at Leeds University, Visiting Fellow at SSEE
Dr. Rajat Gupta – Co-Director, Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development, Oxford Brookes University
Dr. Flavia Frangetto –Member of the São Paulo Federation of Industry and independent environmental law consultant for the public and private sectors
Smith School Associates
Professor Calestous Juma – Professor of the Practice of International Development and Director of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project
Dr. Tony Ribbink – Chairman, South East Climate Change Consortium, South Africa
Dr. Chima Mordi – Lecturer, Brunel Business School, University of Brunel, UK
Dr. Kenneth Amaeshi - Lecturer, Strategy and Policy Innovation, Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility
Mark Charlesworth – Fellow, Research Institute of Law Politics and Justice, Keele University, Keele
2012 – Wittneben, B., Okereke, C. and Levy, D. eds. Climate Change and the Emergence of New Organisational Landscapes: Organisational Studies, (Special Issue) (forthcoming).
2011 – Okereke C., Wittneben, B. and Bowen, F. eds. Climate Change: Challenging Business, Transforming Politics, Business and Society, (Special Issue) (forthcoming).
2010 – Okereke, C. and Dooley, K., Principles of Justice in Proposals and Policy Approaches to Avoided Deforestation: Towards a Post-Kyoto Climate Agreement, Global Environmental Change, 20: 82-95.
2010 – Charlesworth M. and Okereke, C., Policy Responses to Rapid Climate Change: an epistemological critique of dominant approaches, Global Environment Change, 20: 121-129.
2009 – Charlesworth M. and Okereke C., A call to reason, Nature reports climate change | VOL 3 | DECEMBER 2009 | www.nature.com/reports/climatechange
2009 – Okereke, C., Bulkeley, H. and Schroeder, H., Conceptualizing Climate Change Governance Beyond the International Regime. Global Environmental Politics, 9 (1): 56-76.
2009 – Okereke, C. and Schroeder, H., How can justice development and climate change mitigation be reconciled for developing countries in a post-Kyoto settlement? Climate and Development, 1: 10-15.
2009 – Okereke, C., The Ethical Dimensions of Global Environmental Governance, in: Europa Publications (ed.), The Environment Encyclopedia and Directory, London: Routledge.
2009 – Okereke, C., The Climate Politics of Nation State Negotiation, In The Politics of Climate Change, ed. M. Boykoff. London: Routledge.
2008 – Okereke, C., Equity Norms in Global Environmental Governance. Global Environmental Politics Vol. 8 (3): 25-50.
2008 – Okereke, C., Global justice and neo-liberal Equity Norms in Global Environmental Governance. Global Environmental Politics Vol. 8 (3): 25-50.
2008 – Global Justice and Neoliberal Environmental Governance: Ethics, sustainbelk development and international co-operation. London: Routledge.
2008 – Okereke, C., Culture, Climate Change and Environmental Conflict in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. In Cultural Practices, Political Possibilities, ed. R. Dasgupta. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, pp.260-277.