Low Carbon Development (LCD) - in need of a definition

Although the term “Low carbon development” (LCD) has been increasingly used during the last ten years, there is no internationally agreed upon definition to date. The term was introduced considering developing countries and basically describes development strategies that are compatible with the requirements of climate change policy. 

In contrast to the term “mitigation”, which is often understood as cutting emissions in absolute terms, LCD is mostly understood as lowering carbon intensity while achieving economic growth, i.e. decoupling emissions from growth. This does not necessarily mean that absolute emissions do not increase, but rather that the growth rate of emissions is lower than the economic growth rate. The terms LCD, Low Carbon Growth, Low Carbon Economy and Low Carbon Society are used interchangeably to describe “using less carbon for growth”.

The term LCD doesn’t say anything about the means how it is to be achieved. Is it only about technologies? And which technologies are to be deployed: energy efficiency, large or small scale renewable energy technologies, “clean” fossil fuels, or nuclear power?

We thus find that there are a number of problems connected to the term LCD: it is blurred and almost as nebulous as the term “sustainable development”. Moreover, LCD is also understood as a strategy which should integrate mitigation with adaptation policies and improving climate resilience, e.g. by UNDP, which adds to its unclearness.

While sustainable development involves at least some reference to social issues, LCD can be understood as a mere techno-economic strategy. If the concept is blind for social issues, we can be sure that it is also blind for gender issues. In fact, taking a closer look at the LCD strategies that have been developed so far, there is hardly any mention of gender.

As a consequence, before we establish criteria for gender sensitive LCD, we need a clearer definition of to what we are referring.

Last modified: Friday, 23 September 2016, 4:40 PM