Mitigation actions and poverty

…were worth a lot of thoughts at the MAPS side event at the OASIS today. Five authors from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and South Africa presented their main findings on research papers that were launched at today. Stef Raubenheimer asked the authors about the main motivations for mitigation actions in their countries.

Emilio la Rovere from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro started of with the key message that development comes first. The other panelist responded to the question with different drivers, like competitiveness in Colombia and South Africa, and environmental protection driven by civil society in Peru.

In South Africa, the message about development first is not that clearly formulated. Of all five countries, South Africa is the country with the highest emissions levels, highest poverty rates, and the highest inequality.

The discussion continued about incentives and constraints to mitigation action, and there was a clear understanding that without regulations mitigation won’t happen. Both governments in South Africa and Colombia discuss the opportunity of a carbon tax. In Brazil, a carbon scheme is on the political agenda. Peru in turn, is concerned with keeping its development as low in carbon as it already is.

The second part of the event focused on the linkage between poverty and mitigation. I presented the key messages of a literature review on poverty and mitigation. Together with my colleagues from the Energy Research Center at UCT we reviewed the literature from a poverty and from a climate perspective. The literature on climate change and poverty mostly focuses on adaptation, or it focuses on low carbon development as a whole, without a developing countries perspective. If we acknowledge the recent findings from the poverty literature that most of the poor live today in the middle income countries, and not only in low income countries, the adaptation argument of low emissions does not hold anymore. The panel discussed possibilities of linkages between mitigation action and poverty. How would the revenues from a carbon tax in Colombia or South Africa redistributed to have poverty reducing effects? This brainstorming session gave input for a research agenda on poverty and mitigation for the coming years within the MAPS project. So there is more to come…


Speakers were:

  • Eduardo Sanhueza, Cambio Climático y Desarrollo, Santiago de Chile, Chile
  • Emilio Lèbre La Rovere, Universidade Federal Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Emily Tyler, Independent Researcher, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Mateo Salazar, Universidade de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
  • Pia Zevallos, Libélula, Lima, Peru
  • Britta Rennkamp, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Facilitator: Stef Raubenheimer, South South North, South Africa

There will be more side events on MAPS later today at six and next week on Thursday the 8th of December at 18.30 at OASIS (44 K.E. Masinga Rd).