Following the lead of Asian countries, developing countries have an opportunity to tackle climate change — a global issue
Eric Solheim
  • opinion Written by Eric Solheim (oslo, norway)
  • interpress service

The world’s largest combined solar and wind power plant is about to be built here.

Once completed, it will generate an impressive 30 gigawatts of clean, green energy. This is about the same as the total hydroelectric power generation in my home country of Norway. Although we are a wealthy country with a cold climate, our country is 100% powered by hydroelectric power, which consumes far too much energy.

Miracle in Gujarat is the work of Adani Group. Gautam Adani told me his moving personal story. They were eight siblings and lived with their parents in a room in Ahmedabad. There was no electricity, so if you wanted to study after dark, you had to go outside and read under a street light. At the age of 14, he left home and started his own business. Currently, he is one of the richest people in India and ranks very high in the world list as well.

Move to Indonesia.

Last year, the second-largest rainforest country reduced deforestation to almost zero, a huge contribution to Mother Earth. This happened because the Indonesian government put in place all the right policies to protect forests, and because Indonesia’s big companies realized they could do just fine without deforestation.

Take, for example, the RGE (Royal Golden Eagle) Group, one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies. RGE has decided to eliminate deforestation in its value chain. They can make tissue paper, packaging materials, viscose clothing, and palm oil businesses without cutting down virgin trees. RGE also protects large tracts of pristine rainforest on the island of Sumatra. If something goes wrong, we have fire brigade and helicopters on standby to help you deal with it.

And of course, it’s China. China invested a mind-boggling $890 billion in renewable energy last year. This is comparable to the total economy of Türkiye or Switzerland. China added more solar energy in one year last year than the United States, the second-largest solar power, has achieved in its entire history.

Chinese companies produce 10 times as many solar panels as Norwegian hydropower and add well over half of the world’s wind or hydro energy. China accounts for 60% of the world’s subways, batteries, and automobiles, and 70% of its high-speed rail. More than 95% of all electric buses are running on China’s roads. China is an essential country in the fight against global climate change. Without China, no one can go green at an acceptable cost.

What do India, Indonesia and China have in common? They are the three largest developing countries.

At the climate change talks to be held in Glasgow and Dubai, and later this year in Baku, intellectually lazy negotiators and commentators will talk as if the West is leading the world on environmental issues. There is. They are completely mistaken. Ten years ago, Europe was in the lead. It’s time for the West to start learning. Asia is leading the way.

India, Indonesia and China don’t just see climate as an issue. Their leaders, Mr. Modi, Mr. Xi and Mr. Prabowo, see climate change as an opportunity. Taking action to combat climate change is not only environmentally friendly, it also makes economic sense. By caring for the environment, they can create jobs and prosperity and leave poverty behind.

Ola, India’s Uber, expresses this with its fun slogan: “Tesla for the West, Ola for the rest.” They believe they can capture the global market by manufacturing high-quality, low-cost electric scooters and later cars.

China had very few old auto industry stocks. At a time when Western automakers were slipping or cheating on emissions records, China built the world’s dominant electric vehicle ecosystem. BYD recently overtook Tesla as the largest electric car brand. CATL is a lead acid battery manufacturer. Last year, China overtook Japan to become the world’s largest car exporter. The spread of electricity makes perfect business as well as environmental sense for China. For the first time in human history, we have a green path to prosperity.

Solar power prices have fallen 90% in 10 years, largely thanks to China. The price of wind energy is about the same. In the 200 years since the industrial revolution of the 1780s, countries that wanted to develop could only do so through fossils. Solar power is currently cheaper than coal. wherever. Countries that move from coal to solar power save money. Going green doesn’t cost anything.

In January, Prime Minister Modi launched an innovative program to install rooftop solar power in 10 million Indian households. Homeowners register their interest digitally. The risk is borne by the power company, the state, or the bank, not the owner. Its size is amazing.

The gulf between these realities and climate change negotiations is unlikely to widen any further. Last year in Dubai, the focus was on loss and compensation. This is a perfectly legitimate demand, as America’s per capita emissions to date are 25 times higher than India’s and eight times higher than China’s, and the disparity is even greater when compared with Africa and small island developing states.

No one should blame developing countries for climate change.

But the weakness of this approach is not that it is unfair, but that it does not lead to the promised land. The funds allocated by Western countries will be far lower than expected and will fall short of what is needed. To make matters worse, funds distributed through global institutions will be slow, bureaucratic, and often inadequate.

Reform of financial institutions around the world has become a hot topic of discussion. There are also many ideas being put forward for reforming the United Nations. There have been no meaningful reforms in the past 10 years. The world’s largest country, India, which will soon become the world’s third largest economy, is not even on the United Nations Security Council. Anyone looking for Indonesians in the United Nations or world organizations should mobilize the CIA to find them.

Reform needs support, but even if it does come, it will be slow.

I served as Norway’s Minister for International Development for nearly seven years. We raised Norway’s aid to 1%, the highest in the world. But if development aid created prosperity, some African countries would become the most developed countries on earth. India, Indonesia and China, as well as South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam, have received very limited aid. They have gained access to markets and developed strong domestic states and industries. What would South Korea be like without Hyundai and Samsung? This is also how the green transformation will occur in this century.

The shortcut to green development is through private investment and carbon markets, both voluntary and non-voluntary. This funding is much larger than aid, and much more flexible and quick. It is best for any developing country to build on its domestic strengths and take advantage of these capital flows.

It is admitted that the Asian giant has some advantages. These countries have strong states with development-minded leaders dedicated to green transformation. They have a huge domestic market. India, China, and the African continent have roughly the same population.

But India is one market from Tamil Nadu to Arunachal Pradesh, and China is one market from Guangdong to Heilongjiang. Africa is made up of 54 independent states. Success in the large, price-driven Indian or Chinese markets typically means lower prices and higher quality. That makes you globally competitive.

Asia also has a high level of education, and China has a large and highly educated working class.

But green transformation remains more of an opportunity than a problem for developing countries. Going green has led to cost savings. It will be possible to make the leap to a renewable future without first building fossil infrastructure. Even the poorest countries can develop a digital economy without installing telephone lines.

The (limited) funding flowing in from Western donors and international organizations should be used decisively to leverage private investment in solar, wind, hydropower and green industries. The expected risks of investing in renewable energy in Congo are higher than in Vietnam. The difference must be covered by donations.

Subsidies should only be relied upon for climate adaptation purposes for which there is no business model.

I’m looking forward to going to Baku. Perhaps this will be a turning point for the world to realize that Asia’s developing countries are demonstrating global green leadership in the 21st century?They will realize that the greening of the world is an opportunity. I showed it.

Eric Solheim Norwegian diplomat and former politician. He worked in the Norwegian government as a deputy minister from 2005 until 2012. Minister of International Development and Minister of the Environmentand as United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director United Nations Environment Program From 2016 to 2018

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