Low carbon, high hopes: making climate action work for development

World Bank-IMF annual meetings 2007

23 October 2007 | Minutes

World Bank video link

Moderator: Ralph Begleiter, Rosenberg professor of communication, Journalist in residence, University of Delaware, USA

  • Poor people are in the target zone of climate change
  • Nations can not wait for better times to deal with climate change but when growth is sluggish it is easy to postpone action
  • How can we create carbon resilient growth?

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary,United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

  • We have many of the technologies needed to deal with the problem
  • Welcomes the EU’s announcement to reduce green house gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 and up to 30 per cent if others join them
  • G8 in Germany this year agreed to engage with the UNFCC
  • At the Bali conference they expect many journalists to turn up. Regardless of what happens at Bali the world economy will continue to grow. $20 trillion is needed to fuel growth and eradicate poverty. How will Bali make a difference? Key investment decisions are needed.
  • We need to shift investments to more climate friendly and new technologies. IFIs will represent about one per cent and 85 per cent will come from the private sector. How can we green private capital flows?
  • Adaptation needs more exploration.
  • Bali has to agree to launch formal negotiations on mechanisms for: Adaptation, Mitigation, Technology, Finance
  • Need to get the process going first the design can come afterwards
  • The World Bank is pioneering the carbon market. The CDM has $25 billion invested in developing countries
  • There are 3 critical mistakes: That climate change is an environmental issue that economics can ignore; that public money will solve the problem; and that tax and investment can be ignored in other countries

Valli Moosa, president, World Conservation Union (IUCN), Switzerland

  • The legally binding regime has a key role to play.
  • G77 countries have a key role to play. They include fast developing countries such as Malawi and Mozambique. The architecture of the UNFCC negotiations is key. The G77 is a single block and can be obstructive. The negotiation process should be questioned. We need more creativity.
  • Also need to consider oil producing countries whose GDP is dependent on the export of oil. An economy dependent on the export of oil will not agree on emissions reductions.
  • We can not impose the need to mitigate on a least developed country
  • Obstacles include the resistance of the US and the fact that the G77 can be obstructive
  • From the point of view of his NGO, developing countries can not sustain a business as usual approach. Emissions reductions are a global responsibility
  • In the same way that US development was done at the expense of African slaves, it does not mean that development of least developed countries should be carried out at the expense of the atmosphere.
  • Easy actions that could be undertaken that NGOs should push for are: Switching to hybrid motor vehicles, energy efficient building regulations

Jon Williams, Head of sustainable development, HSBC Holdings plc, United Kingdom

  • Why should Banks take on the issue of climate change when they are not a polluting industry? Because climate change is happening and Bank customers will be affected.
  • The private sector wants an agreement and there is an opportunity to make money out of climate change.
  • US, China, Russia, India and Japan produce 80 per cent of GHG emissions
  • GDP per capita, energy efficiency and population growth is key to China’s growth. Equality argument, Technology from coal to gas. However encouraging bankers to think about wind turbines is difficult
  • For private sector capital to get involved we need a long term framework
  • We need regulations and subsidies that encourage the right outcomes to solve climate change, ie from oil, gas and coal to wind. In the UK offshore and onshore wind is already cost competitive. We need to sort out subsidies – roll back the wrong ones and roll forward the right ones.
  • Peak oil theorists have a diversified, long term view of energy. They looking forward for at least the next 50 years and trying to diversify their energy sources.
  • In the future it will be hard for high carbon projects to actually get financed. Banks will be criticised for doing this.

Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany

  • Developing countries need growth
  • Innovative financing mechanisms are the way forward. There is the possibility to have a global carbon market and trading
  • World Bank needs to improve its contribution to renewable energy
  • The Clean Development Mechanism should be used to a greater extent, particularly as regards investment in Africa
  • The renewable energy sector also creates jobs


  • A challenge that G77 countries are made up of LDCs. Also, oil producers do not consume, they export. Fast growing economies are still consuming less than rich ones.
  • On the CDM – can it leverage equitable development in developing countries? How can we move past the margins? Without social monitoring how can we tell that we are having a good impact? Response from Yvo – as the price of carbon is sorted out things will improve. We need government to government cooperation
  • Yvo: tax, investment and the size of the market is key. We need to improve the investment climate