New Delhi: Amid the severe challenges emanating from climate change, for the first time in human history a new paradigm is possible as the win-lose debate where choose was between development and the environment is being replaced by the win-win opportunity where rapid parallel progress on both economy and ecology can establish an ecological civilization.
Writing for the Global Order, Norwegian diplomat and former politician Erik Solheim said climate change and the environmental crisis become an opportunity for jobs and prosperity.
Solheim, who served in the Norwegian government from 2005-2012 as Minister of the Environment, slammed western criticism of India that argued that New Delhi was showing a lack of climate courage and blocking progress on climate issues.
He recalled that the "craziness of western arrogance" was at full display during the climate conference in Glasgow last year.
"India argued that the world should phase down rather than phase out coal, a small, hardly significant change of wording. Some western media, NGOs and politicians came down on India, blaming India for lack of climate courage and claiming that India was blocking progress," he said.
For many decades, Solheim said the debate in India was simple: Do we want to develop or do we want to care for the environment?
"Economists argued that rapid development would always come with costs to mother earth while environmentalists countered that we should put the planet first. The economist always won this debate. Not surprisingly for nearly all Indians rapid development, bringing Indians out of poverty, was the number one priority," he said.
"The pattern was the same everywhere - rapid economic growth with a lot of harm both to the workforce and to the environment. When a country had become rich it started caring for the environment. This was true first in the UK, then in Germany and the rest of Europe, in North America, in Japan and Korea and most lately in China," he added.
According to the former Norwegian minister, the good news in the 21st century is that for the first time in human history a new development paradigm is possible.
"The win-lose debate where you had to choose between development and environment is replaced by the win-win opportunity where rapid parallel progress on both economy and ecology can establish an ecological civilization. Climate change and the environment crisis become an opportunity for jobs and prosperity," he said.
This win-win opportunity has arisen from the drop in the price of renewables.
"When the world came together for the famous disaster of climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009 all focus was on climate diplomacy. No one talked about the climate economy. I cannot remember anyone even hinting to a future with a 90% fall in the price of solar energy," he said.
Lauding the Indian Prime Minister, Solheim said no one has understood the climate economy better than Narendra Modi adding that he has cast around the Indian debate from win-lose to win-win. —ANI