The key questions about how future development patterns determine GHG emissions thus include the following.
Material and energy content of development in industrial countries:
Development patterns in the developing countries:
Links among energy, transport and urban planning:
Land use and human settlements:
The informal economy:
The effect of development pattern assumptions in the assessment of future GHG emissions is greater for developing countries. As a major part of the needed infrastructure to meet development needs is still to be built in the developing countries, the spectrum of future options is considerably wider than that in industrial countries. The traditional approach to assume "business-as-usual" as the baseline is particularly meaningless in such cases; instead there is a need for multiple baselines for different scenarios built to cover the range of possible futures. It cannot be assumed that developing countries will automatically follow the past development paths of industrial countries. The significant transformations that recently intervened in the international economy and energy markets highlight the important dangers of such a double analogy, both in space and time. It can also be argued that many developing countries may have passed already any developmental bifurcation point, in which case developments could follow the patterns of industrialized countries.
Both the GDP structure and the physical basis on which it is to be achieved in developing countries have to be considered. A crucial question regards their share in the world production of highly energy- and pollution-intensive goods, such as steel and aluminum. As the recent shift of heavy industries from the industrial toward the developing countries ends, long-term economic output could come from services and other less energy-intensive activities.
Moreover, technological choices, both in production and consumption apparatus, can substantially decrease the energy demand per GDP. For instance, Chinese households are not bound to adopt the same model of energy-intensive refrigerators that have equipped American families. Similarly, future cement factories in developing countries should not fail to include up-to-date technological improvements, such as the dry process.
The spatial distribution of the population and its economic activities is still unclear, which raises the possibility of adopting urban and/or regional planning. Industrial policies directed at rural development and strengthening the role of small and medium cities would reduce the extent of rural exodus and the degree of demographic concentration in large cities.
These examples show that developing countries could adopt anticipative strategies to avoid, in the long-term, the problems faced today by industrial societies ("leapfrogging"). Such alternative development patterns highlight the technical feasibility of emission futures in the developing regions that can be compatible with national objectives. However, the barriers to a more sustainable development in the developing regions can hardly be underestimated, and range from financial constraints to cultural behaviors (in both industrial and developing countries), which include the lack of appropriate institutional structures.
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