Climate-Resilient Industrial Development Paths: Design Principles and Alternative Models

Global climate change is here. According to recent scientific reports, the earth has warmed by nearly half a degree centigrade over the last twenty five years. Even with robust mitigation efforts, the global climate could warm by up to 4 degrees centigrade due to past emissions. Under a business-as-usual, high consumption fossil fuel-based development path, it could warm even more, resulting in catastrophic and life-threatening destruction of earth’s eco-systems. The “climate imperative”—the urgent need to both mitigate and adapt to global climate change—has important implications for economic development paths in general and industry and energy policies in particular. Development models and practice historically have treated climate—and indeed, the natural environment in general—as exogenous. Future development models will need to incorporate both climactic uncertainty and the economic threats and opportunities arising from an evolving global climate regime. Developing countries, which are especially vulnerable to climate instability, will need to design energy and industry policies which aim to achieve not only economic and social objectives but which also enhance climate resilience. This paper explores the broad contours of climate resilient industrial development paths. It defines development as an increase in local capacities for production and innovation and argues that the overarching goal of development is the generation of sustainable livelihoods. It suggests that. to be climate resilient, industry policies should have four key design features: 1) they are pro-active; 2) they promote industrial diversification; 3) they focus on mobilizing investment in environmentally sustainable industries and infrastructure, including low-carbon and renewable energy; 4) they are highly responsive to local geo-physical conditions and are based on principles of adaptive management; and 5) they are designed, implemented and governed via accountable partnerships involving government, business, and community actors. The paper evaluates three development macro-models—neo-liberal, sustainable globalization, and new developmental—against the five design principles and finds that aspects of both climate vulnerability and climate-resilience are embodied in each. The paper concludes that responding to the climate imperative will require not a new synthesized one-size-fits-all model but a multiplicity of economic development paths. The effort to articulate the theory and praxis of such paths has barely begun.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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