Reconciling Climate Change Goals with the Needs of Developing Countries

December 14, 2009 3:00 PM

How should climate change goals be met to ensure that developing countries’ energy needs are not sacrificed?

In a previous posting on RealTime Economic Issues, Meera Fickling offered a different view on an issue posed earlier by Nancy Birdsall and me in our article "Forget Emissions, Focus on Research" in the Financial Times.

In this Vox EU piece Nancy Birdsall, Dan Hammer, and I explain how to achieve the goal of meeting both the objectives of climate change and development. Based on a research paper, we argue that fairness would imply that basic energy needs of consumers in developing countries should not be different from those enjoyed by consumers in industrial countries at a comparable stage in their development.

However, the manner in which these needs are met—i.e., the technologies that are used—should be the latest available. Our calculations suggest that the only way that energy needs can be met equitably is through a carbon technology revolution. Facilitating this revolution should be the focus of national and international efforts going forward.