Global carbon markets

Are there opportunities for Sub-Saharan Africa?

Global climate change poses great risks to poor people whose livelihoods depend directly on the use of natural resources. Mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change is a high priority on the international agenda. Carbon trading, under the Kyoto Protocol as well as outside the protocol, is growing rapidly from a small base and is expected to increase dramatically under present trends. However, developing countries, in particular Sub-Saharan Africa, remain marginalized in global carbon markets, with Africa’s market share constituting less than 1 percent (excluding South Africa and North African countries). The potential for mitigation through agriculture in the African region is estimated at 17 percent of the global total, and the economic potential (i.e. considering carbon prices) is estimated at 10 percent of the total global mitigation potential. Similarly, Africa’s forestry potential per year is 14 percent of the global total, and the avoided-deforestation potential accounts for 29 percent of the global total.

Appropriate climate-change policies are needed to unleash this huge potential for pro-poor mitigation investment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Such policies should focus on increasing the profitability of environmentally sustainable practices that generate income for small producers and create investment flows for rural communities. Pro-poor investments, community development, new research, and capacity building can all help integrate the agriculture, forestry, and land-use systems of developing countries into the carbon trading system, both generating income gains and advancing environmental security. Achieving this result will require effective integration, from the global governance of carbon trading to the sectoral and micro-level design of markets and contracts, as well as investment in community management. Streamlining the measurement and enforcement of offsets, financial flows, and carbon credits for investors is also needed. This review paper begins with an overview of global carbon markets, including opportunities for carbon trading, and the current involvement of developing countries, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. This is followed by an assessment of the mitigation potential and options involving agriculture, land use, and forestry. The major constraints to the participation of Sub-Saharan Africa in global carbon markets are discussed, and options for integrating the region into global carbon markets are proposed.

Author: 
Bryan, Elizabeth
Akpalu, Wisdom
Yesuf, Mahmud
Ringler, Claudia
Published date: 
2008
Publisher: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Series number: 
832
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