The 4th Session of Liangxiang Forum | The Politics of Climate Change in the West and Its Implications for the Developing World

On the evening of November 2, 2021, the fourth lecture of “Liangxiang Forum” of the Institute for International and Area Studies of Tsinghua University in the autumn semester of 2021 was held both offline and online, with the theme of “The Politics of Climate Change in the West and Its Implications for the Developing World”. The lecture was given by Robert Wade, Professor of the Department of international development of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), presided over by Qin Beichen, a doctoral candicate of the IIAS, and attended by researchers, doctoral students and teachers and students..

Professor Wade introduced from the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow, UK, and launched a critical thinking on the narrative discourse of the current climate change issue in the western world from the perspective of economics and public policy-making. He pointed out the inevitability and irreparability of the current global climate crisis in the West. Western politicians and international organizations have stressed that “achieving net zero emissions by 2050” is the only way to solve the current climate problem. Therefore, people must make a choice between economic development and environmental protection, which is more critical for developing countries.

Professor Wade said that achieving the goal of “zero carbon emissions in 2050” means that carbon emissions must be reduced by 50% every decade from now on, which is a very challenging goal. To a certain extent, this ignores the solutions other than “zero carbon emission”, such as the development of new technologies to reduce the greenhouse effect, the application of carbon dioxide removal technology and so on. Due to the growth of global population and economic development, the global energy demand will increase significantly by 2050. Facing the potential global energy crisis, people urgently need to develop sustainable, renewable and low-cost new energy. The development of global new energy requires the flow of production factors (capital and Technology) from developed countries to the global south.

The current “catastrophic” narrative of climate change in the western world is the same as the hidden discourse logic behind the “Washington consensus” as the guiding concept of economic policies of developing countries in the 1980s and 1990s, that is, the values of public policies in the western world are the only way to deal with global issues. Professor Wade believes that in the future international climate cooperation, people need to broaden their thinking, adopt a more equitable global climate responsibility sharing mechanism, and mobilize enterprises to truly participate in the international social responsibility.

In the second part of the lecture, Professor Wade interacted with teachers and students online and offline. On the issue of large petrochemical enterprises obstructing climate issues for their own interests in the western political agenda, Professor Wade pointed out that the solution to the climate crisis is not “either or”, that is, it is not “either using new energy, or using petrochemical energy and facing climate disaster”. People should open their minds and explore other alternatives. On the issue of how developing countries can speak on global climate issues, Professor Wade said that as the world’s largest developing country, China’s role in global climate governance is worth looking forward to. Referring to the economic growth of developing countries in the “post epidemic era”, Professor Wade looked forward to the contribution of developing countries to the global economic recovery. At the end of the lecture, Professor Wade affirmed and encouraged the interdisciplinary and cross regional research vision of teachers and students of the Regional Research Institute from his interdisciplinary academic development path of economics and anthropology.

Robert Wade, Professor of political economy and development, Department of international development, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He once served as a member of LSE Academic Committee and chairman of the Research Committee of the Department of international development. The financial times economist forum is one of the “50 most influential economists in the world”. Winner of Leontief’s frontier contribution award in economic thought in 2008. He used to be an economist of the world bank and worked in Princeton University, Princeton Institute of higher studies, Massachusetts Institute of technology, Brown University and other places. 2011 sanjaya Lall Memorial visiting scholar of Oxford University. His book on Asian industrialization, governing the market (1990, 2003), won the 1989-91 best political and economic work award of the American Political Science Association. There are also Monographs on irrigation and politics in South Korea (1982), rural Republic: economic conditions of collective action in India (1988, 1994, 2007), etc. Field investigations were conducted in Pitt Kaine islands, Italy, India, Korea, China Taiwan and World Bank headquarters.

Text by: Song Tianyun
Typesetting by: Cheng Yao
Reviewed by: Cheng Yao