There is a common need for development and this transition will bring additional development opportunities
Overcoming inequality in industrialised societies or developing in a fair and equitable manner in developing countries can only be achieved with decarbonised growth, growth that benefits the least privileged strata, social groups and countries. While growth may be weaker in the West given the demographic context, it must be stronger in most developing countries.
Developed countries have a major role to play through their markets, which provide outlets for developing countries, but also their capacity for innovation, savings and therefore financing. This last point is crucial. Many developing countries will be particularly affected by climate change, and they often have obsolete and carbon-intensive infrastructure. This is where the carbon efficiency of each euro (or dollar) invested will be greatest, progress easiest to achieve. This requires careful consideration and innovation in terms of risk sharing and project governance. Pursuing the ambition of global development is key to ensuring universal access to essential goods such as water, food, energy and education. This, as well as the many transformations and innovations required for the carbon revolution, cannot be achieved without growth. Possibly a growth that is measured differently, but still growth.
Energy sobriety is a collective issue
Growing inequalities and household constraints have led to a focus on fuel prices and the demise of a proposed carbon tax.
Sobriety does not mean austerity and citizens can only adopt sober behaviours if the supply of goods and services allows them to do so. Rather than systematically putting the blame on the consumer, rich or poor, we need an ecology of supply.
There is a common need for universal awareness of the urgency, but public opinion is veering between concern and a feeling of powerlessness or abandonment
But there will be winners and losers
Opportunities for China and Brazil, and possibly the US
This race for a new economic model will reshuffle the balance of power: Brazil may find itself at an advantage provided it makes a complete political shift; China hopes to be the major beneficiary, but the power of American innovation may yet make the difference. Europe, for its part, is playing the card of exemplarity and normative power.
High but different risks for Europe, India and Africa
For Europe, the risk, through naivety and inconsistencies, is to suffer a further relative decline in its position, forcing it to redefine itself radically.
For India, as for Africa, the risk is that their development will be hampered and that public exasperation will explode and give way to instability and crises.
The North-South divide: solidarity needed to overcome mistrust
The weight that emerging countries have gained in the climate negotiations is therefore changing the power relationship with players such as Europe. The position of emerging countries challenges the European strategy of “normative leadership”. So far, Europe has been able to set ambitious targets and use its internal market to transform the behaviour of domestic companies. The EU also wants to leverage extraterritorial standards to accelerate the transition in other regions and constrain the behaviour of companies outside the EU. The plan to introduce a border carbon adjustment mechanism is a case in point.
Climate change creates problems of distributional equity between regions, as some will be more affected than others by the short and medium term effects. If we fail to address the issues of distributional equity, the transition will be imposed on everybody rather than being espoused. Furthermore, the effects of climate change will destabilise many countries and lead to forced or voluntary human migration in search of economic benefits from many southern countries to the borders of the European Union, the southern border of the United States and many other OECD countries.