Thanks for the link! I really liked the pieces on energy and development. There are such big questions around this topic, the biggest one in my opinion being if the developed world should have such a large say on what path the developing countries choose to adopt.
Denise: Thank you. Yes, industrialized countries do have a big say. And some times they they don't. It is true they have defined the path along which others follow (as in path-dependence). But we are at a point in the history of technological transition that poor countries are in a position to diverse if they can find ways to create larger markets and opt for emerging technologies. It will be modest initially but it will make a different both in perception but also in reality. Take LEDs for example. These will always struggle against incumbent light bulbs in the North. But the developing countries can move into this area and command the direction of the evolution of the technology. Another area is energy-sensitive nanotechnologies. Many developing countries are already developing nano products. I have a nano tie and scurf developed by scientists at the Thailand National Science and Technology Development Agency (on whose advisory board I serve). You don't have to wash this tie. It repel dirt. Now, think of the energy and water implications of such material for school uniform in developing countries. I grew up in on five miles from the equator in western Kenya and that red clay soil got into everything. Now kids can have nano shirt and shorts and roll in the dirt as long as they want and all they have to do is shake it off after a hard day of play. This may sound trivial but you can see where imagination can lead with new technologies. Of course I am aware of concerns about the risks of nano arguments which one can take separately because doing nothing (as we have done in case of climate change) assures us of equally dreadful outcomes. Imagine new energy futures. Calestous
Wow, that's amazing! I never heard of nano material! What you say is definitely true, but without massive amounts of aid it it will difficult to really implement these types of technologies in developing countries.
LED lights are great, but they are much more expensive than regular light bulbs, and as far as aid goes, countries can't exactly pick and choose what types of aid they will receive and for what means the aid can be used. even in terms of alternative energy, Africa could basically power itself through hydro-power alone, but with what money will the continent construct the dams? How will it be distributed without existing infrastrcture, what countries will bear the bulk of the costs, and more importantly, will they be willing to do so and at what cost?..... many questions. and i unfortunately don't have many answers to them..(!!)
There is also a less recognized case where a developing country took a different energy path: Brazil gave the world the first major ethanol program. I must say, as a student of this program in its early years that there was considerable interest in ensuring that it did not it did not have serious impact on other important aspects of the Brazilian life such as the price of caipirihna. Today's biofuels programs do not exhibit the same level of concern for social dislocation, which is why we are have found ourselves in the middle of a new energy debate.
Denise: A program that is dependent on massive financial flows from the North to the South is a non-starter. But there is a lot that can be done through strategic partnerships between the North and the South. Sony has just come up with battery that uses sugar as source of energy. There is a lot of scope here to transfer the know-know to developing countries that do not compete with Sony's core products. There are lot of examples like that which can be tried out. But little will happen if the argument is constructed on the premise that nothing will happen unless the North actually goes out of its way to help the South solve the problem. The nano products I mentioned already exist and are a result of such partnerships and not massive financial flow.
Yes, I completely agree that through strategic North-South partnerships a lot more can be accomplished. Also, like you said, incorporating the private sector in the solution is beneficial (and in many cases results in much quicker outcomes).
I guess the only problem is that things are never as simple as this when the implementation comes about... Does the book you are finishing up deal with this subject in particular? i'm really curious to read it! I didn't know about Sony's sugar-powered batteries!