World Bank Wants Climate Change Issue to Be Connected to Development

Robert Zoellick says rich countries need to appreciate developing needs of poorer countries

Anjana Pasricha

The World Bank wants the issue of climate change to be connected to strategies of growth and development. The World Bank also says that strong economic growth in India is helping the world recover from the global financial crisis.

World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick says he expects a series of political commitments at the United Nations conference on climate change starting next week in Copenhagen.

Zoellick, who is in India to meet top leaders, was speaking to reporters in New Delhi Friday.

He says that to bring developing countries into the process of cooperating on climate change, richer countries will have to appreciate their development needs. For example, Zoellick points out that 400 million people in India, and about 10 per cent in several countries of Sub Saharan Africa, still have no access to energy.

The World Bank wants to assist developing countries in adopting low carbon use as they try to generate more electricity and develop new industries.   

Zoellick says that in India for example, there is tremendous potential to tap hydro power and solar power.  "This has multiple benefits because it is not only solar production. But we think there is opportunities given some of the great technology capabilities in India to develop this as another industry which can also be a source of exports," he said.

Zoellick says developing nations should also focus on improving energy efficiencies in existing industries and sectors such as transportation to cut down their carbon emissions. "In much of the developing world there are still huge gains to be had, win-win gains by using energy more efficiently," he said.

The World Bank chief says India is playing an important role in helping the world emerge from the recent economic slowdown. He expects the country to return to the high rates of growth of eight to nine per cent over the next one or two years. "India is now a rising economic power that handled the recent economic crisis very well. It contributed to world economic stability and could become a pole of global economic growth over time," he said.

He however adds that there is still a long road ahead for India's poor. He says the challenge for the country is to improve development and infrastructure. India is one of the largest recipients of World Bank aid - it has received more than $5 billion this year to support projects in areas such as power, roads, water and rural development.

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