There was a time when climate policy was strictly about reducing current greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past decade, mitigation has been paired with adaptation to protect against unavoidable damages from climate change, and those twin priorities have dominated international climate negotiations and the academic analyses of climate policy issues. Today, however, a third imperative, the eradication of energy poverty, is elbowing for space in the climate policy agenda. One-fifth of today’s global population lacks access to electricity; two-fifths rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating; and an even larger share has only very limited access to modern energy systems. Poverty reduction requires improved access to modern energy.
It is hard to imagine an international climate agreement that does not provide for sustainable low-or-no-carbon development - here referred to, for simplicity, as “development without carbon.” Countries that, to date, have emitted very little should not have to choose between economic development and climate protection.