Clean Energy Seen as Opening for Developing Countries
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian
Developing countries have the opportunity to leapfrog the west in economic development if they go straight to clean technology while rich countries struggle to wean themselves off fossil fuels, president Francois Hollande of France said on Wednesday.
Wind turbines in Adama, Ethiopia.
“They are going to be skipping the stage where industrialized countries were stopped for a long time, for many decades,” he said. “We were dependent on fossil fuel, which means we now have to concentrate on the transition in the medium to long term of abandoning fossil fuels. But they have the chance to move immediately to the new technologies.”
He said clean technologies such as renewable energy were “dropping in price and will continue to drop”, while industrialized countries faced costs in having to scrap old infrastructure and rebuild it anew in a low-carbon fashion.
Developing countries, many of which are constructing scores of new cities to house their burgeoning populations, would be able to build them in a low-carbon way, with better energy efficiency, he told the annual meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in Paris.
“In the old world, we are proud of our old cities, but [they are very inefficient],” he said. “But countries starting on the path of industrialization can immediately go to new building [technology].”
He compared the opportunity with the mobile phone revolution in Africa, whereby as mobile phone technology dropped in price and became widely available all over the continent, there was little incentive to build conventional fixed line phones.
“The digital revolution and the energy revolution will go hand in hand as in a sense we are talking about the same revolution,” he said.
Hollande looked ahead to the U.N. conference in Paris this December, at which governments are expected to forge a new global agreement on the climate, with commitments from all to limit greenhouse gas emissions after 2020, when current commitments come to an end.
He said countries had still not done enough to reach an agreement. “We know everything [about climate change] - we do not need another report, we do not need more experts. We know a lot about this, and we know the cost of inaction.”
He called for a price on carbon as this would encourage businesses to invest in low-carbon technology and to change their practices. “Set a price for carbon then businesses will change the way they invest and perform,” he said, echoing the six oil companies which earlier this week called for such a price.
He also called for more transparency from businesses, and said France was leading the way by putting in place regulations that would require banks and investors to disclose their exposure to high-carbon assets. “We need to introduce rules that will channel investments,” he said.
Reprinted from The Guardian with permission.