Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Developing Countries Lack Means to Acquire More Efficient Technologies

Contrary to earlier projections, few developing countries will be able to afford more efficient technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next few decades, new research concludes.

The study, by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Colorado, warns that continuing economic and technological disparities will make it more difficult than anticipated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it underscores the challenges that poorer nations face in trying to adapt to global warming.

The study will be published this month in the journal Climate Research.

"There is simply no evidence that developing countries will somehow become wealthier and be in a position to install more environmentally friendly technologies," says Patricia Romero Lankao, an NCAR sociologist who is the lead author of the study. "We always knew that reducing greenhouse gas emissions was going to be a challenge, but now it looks like we underestimated the magnitude of this problem."

The new research also confirms that even those advanced nations that are turning to more environmentally friendly technologies are worsening the outlook for global warming. Their economic growth is outstripping the increase in efficiency, and the demand for more cars, larger houses, and other goods and services is leading to ever-increasing emissions of carbon dioxide. Many of the products these nations consume come from developing countries that are producing more but not gaining the wealth needed to increase efficiency.

As a result, most industrialized and developing countries are increasing their emissions of carbon dioxide. Overall, global emissions grew at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the 1990s and 3.3 percent from 2000 to 2006.

The study has implications for international climate change negotiations, such as this week's U.N. Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland. The United States and other technologically advanced nations are under pressure to reduce their per capita carbon dioxide emissions, while developing countries are being urged to adopt cleaner technology. The research suggests that both goals will be difficult to achieve.

In addition, if developing countries fail to become significantly more prosperous, they may be unable to protect their residents from some of the more dangerous impacts of climate change, such as sea-level rise and more-frequent droughts.

"Their populations and economic activities will not have the availability of resources, entitlements, social networks, and governance structures deemed particularly important ... for them to adapt to the impacts of climate change," the paper states.

The cost of inefficiency

Even though the developing nations analyzed by the research team generally have smaller economies, they are responsible for about 47 percent of the world's emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the major greenhouse gases.

The reason has to do in part with the inefficient energy and transportation systems in nations with less wealth. Small and outdated industrial facilities that use higher-polluting fossil fuels, for example, tend to emit more carbon dioxide per production unit than a larger facility with newer, cleaner technologies. In addition, developing countries contribute a large amount to carbon dioxide emissions when their forests are logged or burned.

To determine whether developing countries are likely to become significantly more efficient, Romero Lankao and her co-authors divided 72 of the world's more populous countries into three primary groups: technologically advanced nations such as the United States (haves), emerging nations such as Thailand (have-somes), and poorer nations like Tanzania (have-nots). Using World Bank data, they based their classifications on three criteria that can influence carbon dioxide emissions: gross domestic product per capita, urban population, and population in the 15 to 65 age range. They then analyzed the economic trajectories of the selected nations from 1960 to 2006, using several statistical techniques.

The team found that the economic disparity between industrialized countries and most developing ones, as measured by gross domestic product per capita, has increased since 1960 rather than converging. Furthermore, the study projects that, if present trends continue, that disparity will continue to grow for at least the next two decades.

A few have-some nations, such as China, appear poised to move up in the world economy and potentially adopt more efficient technology. But many other have-some and have-not countries that emit a significant percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, such as India and Iran, are failing to amass the resources needed to become substantially more efficient.

The study also highlights the disparities in per capita emissions of carbon dioxide. Of the 72 countries analyzed, the team found that the advanced countries have a tiny share of the world's population, yet emit 52.2 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions. In contrast, one-third of the global population lives in the have-not countries, but accounts for just 2.8 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions.

A challenge to IPCC projections: the lack of convergence

These findings cast doubt on some projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. When the IPCC released its comprehensive assessment in 2007, it based several scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions on the concepts of modernization and convergence, which state that many developing countries would close the economic gap and adopt more efficient technologies.

Romero Lankao and her co-authors, however, found evidence for an alternative view, known as the world economy theory, which holds that nations will remain hierarchical, with poorer nations continuing to be in a peripheral economic position even as they produce more products and resources for wealthy countries. Those nations may adopt more efficient and environmentally friendly means of production over time, but at a significantly slower rate than projected by the IPCC.

The world economy theory suggests significant impacts on future greenhouse gas emissions. For example, if the wealthiest regions were to have seven times the average income of the poorest regions in 2100, as projected in some IPCC scenarios, the world would pump 14.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the air that year. But if the income disparity reached 16 times, then carbon dioxide emissions would be about 9 percent higher, at 15.5 gigatons--a difference that, over time, would lead to substantially higher global temperatures.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Development and greenhouse gas emissions deviate from the 'modernization' theory and 'convergence' hypothesis
Patricia Romero Lankao, Douglas Nychka, and John Tribbia
Climate Research

David Hosansky | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>