Wednesday, December 9, 2009


If the repeated demands for money and tech are any indication, developed countries sincerely believe that they have little of their own stuff to contribute to the fight against global warming. Truth be told, they do and not just in terms of products either, but also in market terms.

Firstly, the nature of the people in developing nations means that battles on green tech are fought not only on efficiency, but also on cost. 3rd-world people, much more than richer populations, are less idealistic when it comes to the environment, and more concerned about cost. In this sense, due to the rapid emergence of developing nation consumption, green companies will be more motivated to cheapen their products, which in turn promises greater profits, and that leads to greater funds available for further research.Wanted- cheaper solar panels. If solar panels carried a "Made in China" tag, they could be hundreds of times cheaper.

As an added bonus in the price wars, developing countries also allow for green appliances to be produced far more cheaply. Take China, where mobile phones can be made and sold for $80, with full touchscreens, internet access and every other cool feature. Similarly, such price revolutions could be moved to solar cells, compact fluorescent bulbs and wind turbines. Of course, quality control is an important issue that needs more than ever to be taken into account.

And then there's the young population. While most developed countries are facing an aging population, developing nations have been blessed with a boom on young people. Not only are young people the engine for change (helping spearhead calls for climate action) but they will provide a pool of workers and innovators in the world's next big field: green tech. Plus, they provide companies with an incentive to develop such products as electric sports cars, green laptops and hip reusable shopping bags. They are, in short, producers and consumers in the exciting new world of reduce, reuse and recycle.The Tesla Roadster electric sports car. The younger population of developing nations would provide an eager market for such green products.

Last of all, developing nations also contain stores of untapped resources that are integral in cutting emissions. Take for example China. With one of the world's largest proven lithium reserves, Chinese participation is essential in the development of electric car batteries. In addition, African nations close to the Sahara Desert typically contain a plant- the jatropha, which has seeds containing oil suitable for biofuel. Jatropha is exempt from the typical food vs fuel debate plaguing most biofuels because it grows on land that can't support any other plant.A hedge of jatropha. Want 'em to power your cars, Americans? You need to work with us first.

But for these benefits to actually come through, developing nations must stop heaping near-total responsibility on rich countries, and promote green-mindedness among their people. Similarly, the 1st world should realize that only shared partnerships with the 3rd world will result in a comprehensive effort to repel the spectre of global warming.

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