Press Release: New Report Highlights Measures Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Growth in Developing Countries

For Immediate Release:  
October 24, 2002

Contact: Katie Mandes
703-516-4146

New Report Highlights Measures Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Growth in Developing Countries:   Examines Efforts in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey

Washington, DC - Efforts undertaken by developing countries to strengthen their economies, enhance energy security, or protect local environments are at the same time significantly reducing the growth of their greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report released today by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The report, which examines measures contributing to climate mitigation in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey, found that such efforts reduced the growth of these countries' combined greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 300 million tons a year. If not for these efforts, the report concluded, emissions in the six countries could be about 19 percent higher than they are today.

Among the many efforts identified are market and energy reforms to promote economic growth; development of alternative fuels to reduce energy imports; aggressive energy efficiency programs; use of solar and other renewable energy to raise living standards in rural locations; reducing deforestation; slowing population growth; and switching from coal to natural gas to diversify energy sources and reduce air pollution.

Broader implementation of such efforts could reduce future emissions growth by an additional 300 million tons a year by 2010, the report estimates. It urges policymakers to pursue strategies at both the national and international levels that take advantage of synergies between climate protection and the overriding development priorities of developing countries to simultaneously advance both.

The report, Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey, was researched and written by a team of in-country experts led by researchers at the Battelle Memorial Institute. The lead authors are William Chandler, Battelle Memorial Institute; Roberto Schaeffer, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Zhou Dadi, China Energy Research Institute; P.R. Shukla, Indian Institute of Management; Fernando Tudela, El Colegio de Mexico; Ogunlade Davidson, University of Cape Town; and Sema Alpan-Atamer, Med-Consult.

"While the United States and other developed countries must act first in the global effort against climate change, emissions from developing countries are growing rapidly, and in time they must be addressed as well," said Pew Center President Eileen Claussen.

"This report demonstrates that many efforts already under way in developing countries, whether or not motivated by climate concerns, are in fact contributing to the effort against climate change," Claussen said. "The key message is that climate protection can go hand in hand with economic growth and other overriding priorities of developing countries. With the right strategies, developing countries can achieve their goals even as they contribute more strongly to the effort against climate change."

For each of the six countries, the report profiles energy and emissions sources, identifies measures contributing to climate mitigation, and evaluates the potential for future mitigation. Key findings include:

  • Brazil's emissions are 10 percent lower than they would be if not for aggressive biofuels and energy efficiency programs aimed at diversifying energy supplies. With stronger efforts, emissions growth could be cut by an additional 45 million tons a year by 2020. However, government policies continue to encourage deforestation, which produces almost twice as much carbon dioxide as the energy sector.
  • China has dramatically reduced its emissions growth through slower population growth, energy efficiency, switching from coal to natural gas, and afforestation. Emissions growth has been reduced over the past three decades by an estimated 250 million tons of carbon per year, about one-third of current emissions, and could be reduced by an additional 500 million tons a year in 2020.
  • India's growth in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions was reduced over the last decade through economic restructuring, enforcement of existing clean air laws by the nation's highest court, and renewable energy programs. About 120 million tons of additional carbon mitigation could be achieved over the next decade at a cost ranging from $0-15 per ton.
  • Mexico, the first large oil-producing nation to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, has begun to reduce deforestation rates, switch to natural gas, and save energy, reducing annual emissions growth over the last decade by 5 percent, or 10 million tons of carbon per year. Mexican carbon dioxide emissions are projected to grow 69 percent by 2010, but alternative strategies could cut this growth by 45 percent.
  • South Africa, as part of its post-Apartheid restructuring, is taking steps to phase out subsidies to its unusual, carbon-intensive coal liquefaction industry and open the country to natural gas imports. Emissions growth could be reduced 3-4 percent a year by 2010 through economic reforms and efficiency improvements.
  • Turkey  ranks among the fastest growing energy markets in the world; its emissions are projected to grow nearly four-fold by 2020. Planned privatization of government-run industries may close the most inefficient operations and modernize surviving ones. Elimination of energy subsidies could stimulate conservation, reducing energy and emissions growth below current projections.

The report estimates that efforts already undertaken by the six countries have reduced their combined emissions growth by 288 million tons of carbon a year. For perspective, the report notes, if all developed countries were to meet the emission targets set by the Kyoto Protocol, they would reduce their emissions by an estimated 392 million tons from where they are projected to be in 2010 (or by 285 million tons if the United States remains outside the Protocol and does not reduce its emissions from business as usual).

A complete copy of this report -- and previous Pew Center reports -- is available on the Pew Center's web site, www.c2es.org.

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The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States' largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment. The Pew Center is an independent, nonprofit, and non-partisan organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.