Sustainability Challenges - Why Are Emerging Markets Tasked With Cleaning-Up Developed Nation’s Carbon Footprint Burden?

Daegu, Korea, 18 October 2013: After delivering his public address on 15 October at the 22nd World Energy Congress (WEC), Sarawak Energy CEO, Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit was invited to speak at a roundtable session held on 17 October. The "Global Electricity Initiative" (GEI) roundtable session saw a gathering of global utility leaders exchanging and sharing views on energy access, sustainability issues and challenges from around the globe.  At this session, Torstein's presentation focused on the fact that the greatest challenge to ‘sustainability’ is unequal distribution of wealth between the developed and lesser developed countries. The rich or developed countries have created most if not all of the present day global environmental issues.

Torstein said, "People from the developing countries have the right and the duty to develop their natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations. They deserve the same life opportunities, infrastructure and public services as people in developed countries. Citing source from World Bank (2011), the gap of GDP between the Sarawak population and communities in the developed world remains significant. For example, GDP per capita in Australia was USD$61,789 and for Malaysia is $USD9,977.

Most of the sustainability problems confronting the world today are the result of the exploitation of the world's resources by western nations. Using the Cumulative CO2 emissions from 1850 to 2002 as an example, developing countries contributed 24% while developed countries at 76%. (Source: World Resource Institute)

(24% comes from the 3.8 billon people in developing countries, whereas the 76% comes from 1 billion richest people of the developed countries)

World sustainability standards should not prevent development for the lesser developed part of the global population. It is unfair for the same western nations that have polluted the oceans and the skies to now impose ‘stringent’ standards of sustainability on developing countries that prevent developments for developing nations. If these standards were in place 100 or even 50 years ago, the developments upon which the wealth of the western world relies would be impossible. Even today, the western world economic foundation is based on what we now define as not sustainable for the developing world.”

Commenting on the need for large hydro dams, Torstein explained, "Large efficient plants generate massive power to boost local economy, the difference in levelized cost per kWh can be from 1 to 10, between small and large hydro projects.  The development of large efficient power plants to supply wealth creating industries is central to addressing real sustainability issues. With the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), Sarawak is implementing a plan to increase GDP/Capita from USD9,977 (2011) to USD15,000 by 2020. Ultimately, we have to work together to address the sustainability issues without compromising development in developing countries.”

Torstein also stated, “Government, NGO and engaged people in western countries who want to address sustainability should either fix the problems that they have created themselves in their own countries; and/or come to developing countries to actually do some of the work which can improve the sustainability of their development rather than to indulge in finger-wagging while the same countries still, based on the same over-utilisation of the global resources increasing the gap between the developed and developing world in terms of GDP/Capita.”

GEI was launched in 2011 at the *COP-17 summit in Durban, South Africa. It aims to showcase proactive actions that utilities are undertaking to increase access to affordable and clean electricity.

*Reference to COP-17