President Sarkozy of France opened the 40th World Economic Forum here in Davos with a call to action: "Countries with trade surpluses must consume more and improve the living standards and social protection of their citizens," he remarked. "Countries with deficits must make an effort to consume a little less and repay their debts."
Let's hope "consume more" does not mean more conumption that exacerbates our energy usage. One of the reasons why Africa has such a small carbon footprint is the low rate of consumption. Africa represents less than 2% of world CO2 emissions.
In the developed world we certainly consume a lot, but at what price?
Let us distinguish between consumption and innovation. As Tom Friedman wrote in the NY Times this past Sunday, in this economy coutries will rise and fall with innovation.
Innovation can increase quality of life with LESS consumption.
The French President seems to gravitate to such platitudes as, "the world of tomorrow cannot be the same as the world of yesterday." Is he serious?
I hope that we can do better than that to meet the challenges we face.