“The economic cost of achieving change at country-level has long been perceived as a fundamental challenge in efforts to raise climate ambitions. However, the concept of ‘green growth’ is gaining increasing support given the future costs of uncontained global warming,” explains co-author Laima Eicke (RIFS). But some countries are critical of the concept: faced with a growing population and energy access needs, they continue to invest in conventional energy resources and infrastructure. Energy transition pioneers hoping to win over more reluctant countries should emphasise the benefits of climate action beyond economic growth, such as improved energy access and air quality, the authors say.
Allies can motivate or stifle change
The researchers analysed 761 statements issued by UN member states in English at global climate summits (COPs) between 2010 and 2019, covering 151 countries in total. The results show that climate diplomacy is influenced by both domestic clean energy development and the desire to secure a place among the leaders in the ‘green race’.
The researchers also demonstrated that countries are influenced by how their allies frame issues. Member countries of the European negotiating group at the COP are more likely to make positive reference to the green growth concept, whereas African countries were less likely to embrace it, for example.
Financial support and knowledge transfer needed to drive climate action
The study’s authors propose two policy measures to make climate action more attractive for all countries: firstly, boosting technology transfer and capacity-building efforts could help to raise ambition and make green growth a credible policy option. “International financing should help countries generate local ownership and build manufacturing capacities and value creation through green jobs and human capital,” says Laima Eicke. So far, however, the industrialized countries have failed to deliver on financial commitments pledged at the UN climate conferences.
The authors also suggest that countries could be encouraged to raise their climate ambitions by highlighting other relevant co-benefits of climate action, such as for health and food and energy security, climate change adaptation, and resilience encourage countries to raise their climate ambitions. International climate diplomacy, they suggest, should place a stronger focus on these aspects.
- Schmidt, L., Apergi, M., Eicke, L., Weko, S. (2023), Who believes in green growth? Strategic framing and technology leadership in the UNFCCC negotiations. Climate Policy, https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2023.2248061