Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center yesterday
, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the financial crisis indicated that developed countries should listen to developing countries, but not out of “charity or solidarity: It is self-interest
His prepared remarks, “The End of the Third World? Modernizing Multilateralism for a Multipolar World,
” notably included a section on climate change:
Take climate change: The danger is that we take a rule book from developed countries to impose a one-size-fits-all model on developing countries. And they will say no.
Climate change policy can be linked to development and win support from developing countries for low carbon growth but not if it is imposed as a straitjacket.
This is not about lack of commitment to a greener future. People in developing countries want a clean environment, too.
Developing countries need support and finance to invest in cleaner growth paths. 1.6 billion people lack access to electricity. The challenge is to support transitions to cleaner energy without sacrificing access, productivity, and growth that can pull hundreds of millions out of poverty.
Avoiding geo-politics as usual means looking at issues differently. We need to move away from the binary choice of either power or environment. We need to pursue policies that reflect the price of carbon, increase energy efficiency, develop clean energy technologies with applications in poorer countries, promote off-grid solar, innovate with geothermal, and secure win-win benefits from forest and land use policies. In the process, we can create jobs and strengthen energy security.
The developed world has prospered through hydro electricity from dams. Some do not think the developing world should have the same access to the power sources used by developed economies. For them, thinking this is as easy as flicking a switch and letting the lights burn in an empty room.
While we must take care of the environment, we cannot consign African children to homework by candlelight or deny African workers manufacturing jobs. The old developed country prism is the surest way to lose developing country support for global environment goals.