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Low carbon, high hopes

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Climate Change

The greatest challenge in my job is when I hear colleagues from developing countries ask how they’re supposed to tackle climate change when they have a hundred other development issues to think about.

What will the future be for fossil fuel power stations?

As I’ve written before, my answer is always that tackling climate change and reducing poverty go hand in hand.  They’re not mutually exclusive, and a low carbon future doesn’t mean a future without growing welfare.  In fact, climate change and development must be addressed together.

That’s why today DFID and Forum for the Future are launching The future climate for development: Scenarios for low-income countries in a climate-changing world.

This project analyses factors that could influence the way low income countries develop and respond to climate change over the next 20 years.  It has developed four scenarios – plausible and robust possible futures – exploring different ways in which these factors may play out.

Here’s how they look:

“Reversal of Fortunes” is a world where many of the low income countries of the 2010s have rapidly developed – mostly on carbon-intensive pathways – but are then hit first and worst by the impacts of a rapidly decarbonising global economy as developed countries belatedly wake up to the climate challenge.  Countries that develop their renewable resources and low carbon supply chains are most resilient in this future.

Video: Low-Income countries in 2030 - Reversal of Fortunes from Forum for the Future.

“Age of Opportunity” is a world in which low income countries play a growing role in the world economy and are spearheading a low carbon energy revolution, leapfrogging the old high carbon technologies in pursuit of a prosperous and clean future.  Early movers into renewable energy located near established markets do the best.

“Coping Alone” is a world in which low income countries feel increasingly abandoned by a global community preoccupied with high oil prices, economic stagnation and simmering conflict.  Oil exporters reap the most gains in this future, with oil importers doing the worst. 

“Greater Good” is a world where countries manage natural resources pragmatically to give the greatest good for the greatest number.  Low income countries with abundant natural resources and strong bargaining skills tend to do well in this future. 

The next stage of the project is for these scenarios to be used as a practical tool for anyone who has a stake in the future of low income countries, including low income country governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), businesses and development organisations.  The scenarios can be used to ‘future-proof’ development strategies, generate new ideas for future strategy or policy, and create a vision of a preferred future.

In DFID, we're planning to use the project to help ensure that all UK aid is ‘climate-smart’ and that we integrate climate change into our development efforts across the organisation. 

Check out the feature on the DFID website to see  the other animations, and visit the Forum for the Future website to see the full report and posters of the scenarios as well as details of how you can use this tool in whatever your own area of work is.

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  1. Comment by Suhrid posted on

    This is not fair ... this same issue i have been shouting from past one year in all the seminars and workshops and interaction and nobody listens and now when you have found that ... and build project on this all the people will listen

    Here is my basic question .. what you are suggesting in your blog is what we have been thinking from past one year and shouting/ roaring in Nepal

    Checkout facebook page on challenging Nepal's current involvement in climate change activities

    Now i am finding a huge problem .. why people like us ...a common citizen voice is never heard ... why are we not appreciated when we bring this ideas that your organization is saying

    Anyway congratulation to you and your team for finding this common sense knowledge at last

    Lets hope your program builts in this component and surely we will have lots of INGOs and NGOs who are highly opportunistics to say .. thats great ...

    Really ... DFID has to listen to voices of common citizen and find innovation through them

    Sorry for critically commenting but feeling so sorry as this is what we are thinking from past one year ... and these idea we see in your blog 🙂

    Anyway have a great time



    Common citizen of Nepal ...

  2. Comment by Suhrid posted on

    Dear Vicky

    I am sorry for previous comment which u can delete also ...

    Actually this is my dream thought ... i really want to work more on bringing this issue in global agenda and raise the voice of bottom billions

    Poor country need this and it has to made to reach all the poor people and pressurize government to build these national policy and take it to Mexico

    I really want to be in team and build this approach more concretely and make it reach to more people especially to those bottom billions

    Please suggest appropriate ways



  3. Comment by Vicky Seymour posted on


    Thank you for your message.

    You’re right that many people – like you – are already aware of the links between climate change and development. The Future Climate for Development project draws and builds on this kind of existing knowledge, and its primary purpose is as a practical tool to help ensure that climate change is integrated into development policy and planning.

    You are also right to highlight the role that individuals and civil society actors can have in tackling climate change. To effectively tackle climate change, we need a fair and equitable global deal on limiting emissions. On the road towards an ambitious deal, NGOs have a very important role to play in building an international consensus that such a deal is both essential and fair. NGOs are also incredibly important in ensuring that climate change programmes are designed and implemented in the best way to ensure their impacts are achieved and shared equitably. NGOs are also uniquely placed to hold governments and international organisations to account.

    I was interested to read about the work taking place in Nepal, including the work of the NGO you provided the Facebook link to. You may be aware that the UK and Nepal are both committee members of the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), to which the UK also contributes funds. Nepal is a pilot country for two of the CIFs programmes – the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience and the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Programme. A key principle of the CIFs is that countries develop their own investment plans through a consultative process which looks to include development partners, non-governmental organisations, indigenous peoples groups, local communities, and the private sector in deciding what areas the plans should look at. If you would like more information, please see the CIFs website at:

    Best wishes

  4. Comment by Rob posted on

    Hmm, i have to say the 'reversal of fortune' sounds like the most likely scenario; but obviously we hope not. Climate smart donations sound like a really great idea

  5. Comment by rupa posted on

    Would have been interesting if the scenarios had encompassed both developed and low income countries. The assumption seems to be ceteris parabis as regards C emission and consumption patterns in the rest of the world? This is a truly global problem so why do a fragmented analysis of what the future holds for the `low income'?

    The scenarios for the developed world would actually be very interesting - which European economies will survive and how and which ones would die out? How would American lifestyles need to change in different scenarios? What does the future hold for Japan and Russia etc.. The scenarios would also have a much larger advocacy value.

  6. Comment by Ir Martin Koma D. BEN-BALA posted on

    Dear Ms Vicky:
    For us Researchers, there are various solutions for tackling that issue. The problem is that there is a wall separating research world and funders community.
    About me and my R&D NGO for example, we imagined an ecological oven through wich GHG emmission could be minimized. We must build the design and are looking for financial means since several years. We are living in forest areas and it is painfull to see every day men burning tons of woods.
    To finish, I would keep in touch with you as we are sharing the same core concern. Thank you for attention

  7. Comment by Vicky Seymour posted on


    Many thanks for your thoughts.

    You're right that scenarios for the developed world and middle income countries are also crucial, particularly because these countries are currently the highest emitters.

    As the Department for International Development, though, our mandate is to support low income countries in their development, hence the focus of this work. Although this was the focus, factors such as changes to global politics and economics, and the global response to climate change (including that of the developed world), were all taken into account when developing the scenarios.

    There are some other crucial points about developing countries and climate change. If the world continues along its current emissions trajectory, then it is expected that developing countries will account for 63% of global emissions by 2030. Not only that, but even if developed countries were to cut their emissions to zero, this would limit developing countries to 2.5 tonnes of CO2 per capita - a figure many middle income countries already exceed. It is therefore essential that we assist developing countries in understanding and responding to the opportunities and risks, especially to poor people, resulting from the transition to a global low carbon economy.


  8. Comment by Vicky Seymour posted on

    Thanks for your thoughts on researchers and how to ensure there's no gap between local innovation and global funding sources.

    Technology is a crucial component to achieving low carbon, climate resilient development in all countries. This will require not only increased deployment of existing technologies, but also the development and diffusion of new, ‘breakthrough’ technologies on a global scale.

    At DFID, we are exploring a number of ways to help entrepreneurs get their inventions and products to the market. You may be interested in exploring options through the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy ( who reward visionary champions finding solutions to climate change that are also bringing real social and economic benefits to their local communities. There is also the Business in Development (BiD) network ( operating in 12 countries around the world linking entrepreneurs to investors and funds.

    Keep up your excellent efforts!


  9. Comment by Suresh posted on

    This is awesome information. Really helpful.