How can undeveloped countries develop their economy whilst taking regards to climate change? I have presented development economist and Associate Professor at NHH, Vincent Somville to a number of assertions and asked for his thoughts – in an attempt of finding answers to this complex question.

Assertion 1: The models used by rich countries to achieve economic growth do not work in poor countries

– The whole economic perspective on growth in poor countries has been that they should do what Europe has done, and their economy will eventually catch up. This has not been the case for most poor countries. The transition from low added value agriculture to high value services or green industrial jobs is not happening smoothly in poor countries. A big constraint for develop

Vincent Somville. Foto: NHH

ment in poor countries is that they need to go from poverty to a new model that is sustainable, says Somville. This is where the rich countries have a great responsibility.

Assertion 2: We have a responsibility due to fairness and solidarity

– The rich countries have achieved economic growth at the expense of poor countries. Most of the pollution is coming due to the high level of activity we have in rich countries, but the consequences of
climate change will be felt more in low-income countries. We are in fact creating very difficult conditions for the poor countries. The poor population will suffer the most from the climate change the rich countries are contributing to. We therefore have a responsibility to help these countries through green development, and try to limit the damages we are creating.

Assertion 3: Climate challenges will create massive problems for the planet and the global economy

– This is about the survival of the planet and all the species – climate challenges is a global challenge. I don’t think any economy has gone through economic development without massive pollution, and we do not have a good example of how to reach a high level of economic development or high level of income per capita without polluting the planet. We do not only need to become greener in rich countries, we also need to make sure that the poor countries adapt in a way that is consistent with climate change.
“The developed countries are not developed, when it comes to climate change we are all developing.”

Assertion 4: Battling this challenge requires a lot of goodwill, and international collaboration and cooperation.

– The UN Green Climate Fund (GCF) was created in 2010 with the purpose of financing and supporting green development in low-income countries. There is an agreement to spend 100 billion dollars annually from 2020 on financing green development in low-income countries. Currently around 10 billion dollars are invested annually, on the other hand thousands of billions of dollars are invested annually in polluting technologies. Alongside transfer of knowledge, technology and finance these kinds of multilateral frameworks are really important to achieve the goal of green development in poorer countries.


“We have an agreement, now we just need to put the money on the table.”




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