Felipe Calderon: Reversing climate change will trigger innovation

The former president of Mexico tells Devex how COP21 commitments — particularly around carbon pricing — could boost creativity and improve investment prospects in countries of all income levels.

Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon said leaders must spur “a new kind of awareness” and provide “new arguments, particularly in the private sector,” in order to drive innovation around climate change.

Speaking with Devex Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meetings in September, Calderon also warned against generalizing about the impacts on developing vs. developed economies’ when reducing reliance on fossil fuels. For an all-in approach to combating climate change, he explained, developing countries like China should pounce on the opportunity to protect the world’s poorest while also improving life at home, on the streets of China’s biggest cities.

“Now that China is losing speed in economic growth, if China moves toward a low-carbon economy … it could get a lot of benefits and reverse a lot of damages that are already happening in its big cities,” he said.

Calderon, who chairs the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, housed within the New Climate Economy, explained that developing countries like China can demonstrate for the developed world the far reach of economic benefits to reducing carbon emission.

The economic returns of efforts to price carbon, he said, will also create a more nurturing environment for innovation, “the most powerful engine for economic growth since the beginning of history,” Calderon said.

Goals to reverse climate change — in addition to to reducing countries’ carbon footprints — could set off a wave of innovation and economic growth.

Planet Worth is a global conversation in partnership with Abt Associates, Chemonics, HELVETAS, Tetra Tech, the U.N. Development Program and Zurich, exploring leading solutions in the fight against climate change, while highlighting the champions of climate adaptation amid emerging global challenges. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation using #PlanetWorth.

About the author

  • Molly Anders

    Molly Anders is a former U.K. correspondent for Devex. Based in London, she reports on development finance trends with a focus on British and European institutions. She is especially interested in evidence-based development and women’s economic empowerment, as well as innovative financing for the protection of migrants and refugees. Molly is a former Fulbright Scholar and studied Arabic in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.