Some reflections on climate change, green growth illusions and development space

A discussion paper by the UNCTAD argues that Green Growth based on enhanced material, resource and energy efficiency, as well as a drastic change in the energy mix will not lead to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. The paper, titled “Some Reflections on Climate Change, Green Growth Illusions and Development Space,” shows that a number of growth and efficiency limits will prevent significant GHG emissions reductions through Green Growth strategies, including: slow reductions in carbon intensity of economic activity; a “rebound effect” by which increases in resource efficiency stimulate higher consumption; “outsourcing" of carbon emissions through international trade; technical and energetic limits to renewable energy expansion; abundance of coal resources; population growth; and persistence of western consumption patterns.