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Amar Bhattacharya, Maksym Ivanyna, William Oman, and Nicholas Stern
Climate change is a major threat to the sustainability and inclusiveness of our societies, and to the planet’s habitability. A just transition to a low-carbon economy is the only viable way forward. This paper reviews the climate change challenge. It stresses the criticality of systems changes (energy, transport, urban, land use, water) in a climate-challenged world, and the importance of infrastructure investment geared toward such systems changes. The key policies to enable the transition are: public spending on and investment frameworks for sustainable infrastructure, pricing carbon, regulations, promoting sustainable use of natural resources, scaling up and aligning finance with climate objectives, low-carbon industrial and innovation policies, building resilience and adaptation, better measurement of well-being and sustainability, and providing information and education on climate risks. Implemented well, climate action would unlock the inclusive growth story of the 21st century, making our societies more sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous.
International Monetary Fund
The Fund has a role to play in helping its members address those challenges of climate change for which fiscal and macroeconomic policies are an important component of the appropriate policy response. The greenhouse gas mitigation pledges submitted by over 160 countries ahead of the pivotal Climate Conference in Paris in December represent an important step by the international community towards containing the extent of global warming. Strategies for reducing emissions will reflect countries’ differing initial positions, political constraints and circumstances. Carbon pricing can, however, play a critical role in meeting in the most efficient and effective way the commitments that countries are now entering into; it can also raise substantial revenues that can be used to reduce other, more distorting taxes. Through its incentive effects, carbon pricing will also help mobilize private finance for mitigation activities and spur the innovation needed to address climate challenges. Finance ministries have a key role to play in promoting and implementing these policies and ensuring efficient use of the revenue raised. The process of climate change is set to have a significant economic impact on many countries, with a large number of lower income countries being particularly at risk. Macroeconomic policies in these countries will need to be calibrated to accommodate more frequent weather shocks, including by building policy space to respond to shocks; infrastructure will need to be upgraded to enhance economic resilience. It will be important that developing countries seeking to make these adaptations have access to sufficient financial support on generous terms. Financial markets will play an important role in helping economic agents and governments in coping with climate change-induced shocks. And heightened climate vulnerabilities and the structural adjustments associated with a shift towards a low-carbon economy over the medium-term will have important implications for financial institutions and financial stability. This paper identifies areas in which the Fund has a contribution to make in supporting its members deal with the macroeconomic challenges of climate change, consistent with national circumstances. It draws on materials contained in a forthcoming Staff Discussion Note (Farid et al. 2015) and has benefited from the discussions at informal Board meetings on IMF work on climate change held on September 30 and November 24, 2015.
International Monetary Fund
Attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries continue their considerable past achievements. The Millennium Development Goals—which were to have been met by 2015—helped focus attention on achieving progress towards poverty reduction, better health outcomes, and improvements in education in the ASEAN developing countries. The 17 SDGs—adopted in 2015 and to be met by 2030—cover a wider set of interlinked development objectives, such as inclusion and environmental sustainability, which are important for all countries, including all ASEAN member countries. ASEAN countries have made significant progress in improving incomes and economic opportunities, including for women, and reducing poverty since 2000. Reflecting the economic dynamism of the region, strong income growth, structural transformation, and infrastructure improvements continue to support sustainable development in ASEAN. With continued income growth and strong policy efforts, most ASEAN countries are on track to eradicate absolute poverty by 2030, a major milestone. Also, several ASEAN countries already do relatively well in terms of gender equality. As a result, given support from continued income gains, economic welfare in ASEAN countries is expected to continue converging towards advanced Asia levels. Ensuring more inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth presents a key challenge for ASEAN. Despite some progress, income inequality remains relatively high in several countries and the shift towards manufacturing strains environmental sustainability. These challenges hamper ASEAN welfare convergence relative to advanced Asia. Policies to close these gaps in sustainable development can lead to significant gains. For the lower-middle-income ASEAN countries, in particular, more determined policy efforts are needed to improve infrastructure, as well as health and education outcomes. Remaining sustainable development challenges call for comprehensive, country-specific SDG strategies formulated in the context of national development plans and close monitoring through the voluntary review process. Pursuing sustainable development entails sizeable spending needs. Estimates for Indonesia and Vietnam, the two cases studies considered in this paper, show that reaching the level of best performers in their income group in infrastructure, health, and education by 2030 could entail an additional cost of 5½–6½ percent of GDP per year. While development needs vary across countries, estimates suggest large spending needs for most ASEAN countries. Meeting them will require efforts on multiple fronts, including improvements in spending efficiency, tax capacity, and support from the private sector. For developing ASEAN countries, concessional financing from development partners will be required. The IMF continues to engage ASEAN countries in key areas as they pursue their SDGs. As called for in their mandates, ASEAN and the IMF both strive for economic growth and sustainable development through economic integration and collaboration among their member countries. The IMF has increased its engagement with ASEAN countries to support their policy efforts through its policy diagnostics, advice, and capacity development. ASEAN countries have also received support through IMF initiatives in strengthening revenue mobilization, building state capacity for infrastructure provision, pursuing economic and financial inclusion, addressing the challenges of climate change, strengthening economic institutions for good governance, and building statistical capacity. While fundamental reforms to improve sustainable development take time to bear fruit, there is evidence that efforts have started to pay off.