Syndicate content

September 2010

Leading the green pack

Monika Kumar's picture

Last week marked another milestone in disclosing the World Bank Group’s environmental performance and setting the standard for transparency by multilateral development organizations. World Bank president Robert Zoellick was the key commentator for the Carbon Disclosure Project’s 2010 Global 500 report. It is the world’s largest database of institutional carbon footprint. The World Bank Group (WBG) is the only Multilateral Development Bank to report to this forum.

 

Seven years after the Global 500 report was first launched, participation is beyond just ``looking good’’ for corporations. This annual exercise has become an accountability issue for corporations―investors are demanding these carbon footprint figures to assess their risks and opportunities. Investors are moving towards sustainability and the Climate Disclosure Project (CDP) is proving to be an effective benchmarking tool that guides investment choices and aligns incentives for low-carbon growth. It is a win-win for corporations too, because when they accurately know their greenhouse gas emissions, they can better manage them.  The 2,500 organizations that participated in this exercise account for a total of 11% of global direct GHG emissions.

A toolkit for climate change with stakeholders at its core

Jane Ebinger's picture

There is now a set of tools that can help countries assess how vulnerable their energy sector is. Such assessments will be critical for countries to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. The toolkit―HEAT, a Hands-on Energy Adaptation Toolkit, has its roots in work done in 2008. At that time, I contributed to an Eastern Europe and Central Asia wide paper that took stock of projected climate impacts to understand the countries or sectors that were most vulnerable, and to get some sense of the level of exposure. I worked with colleagues to explore what this meant in an energy context.  Our starting point was to ask a series of questions: what changes were we concerned about? How could they affect energy planning, design and operations? How big a risk did this pose to energy security? What experience was there in coping with these issues? 

 

What emerged was enlightening. Many countries are increasingly vulnerable to changes in seasonal weather patterns, weather variability and extreme events e.g. droughts, floods, heat waves―that can affect the production and supply of energy and affect seasonal energy demand. The degree of exposure depends on the amount of change, how the sector is sensitive to or is affected by these changes and the ability to cope with impacts. This is further exacerbated by socio-economic and inherited issues (e.g. inefficient use of energy and water resources) that affect the coping or adaptive capacity of a country. Out of all we learned, came the development of HEAT.

Removing the `stovepipe' in the cookstove

Sameer Akbar's picture

Here is something to chew on as you cook your next meal: There are three billion people gathering around open fires or primitive cookstoves in poorly ventilated homes around the world, preparing their next meal. They are breathing toxic chemicals that are up to 200 times above `safe’ levels, and as a result, close to two million are dying each year from this deadly cocktail. This is more than twice the number from malaria and it is mostly women and young children.

 

For several years, emissions from inefficient cookstoves have been acknowledged as a major health hazard, but governments and development institutions alike have continued to adopt a classic ‘silo’ or shall we say in this instance `stovepipe’ approach. While the issue cuts across sectors such as forestry, energy, gender, and environment, each ministry/ department has looked at it from their limited perspective.  The result is that nothing much gets done, with each sector saying it is the other’s responsibility.

 

There is now a new program, led by the UN Foundation, that promises to be commensurate with the scale of the problem: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves on the sidelines of the MDG Summit in New York yesterday.  The US has announced US$50 million to support the program―the goal is to raise US$250 million in the next 10 years, and have 100 million homes adopt clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels by 2020. The World Bank is going to participate in this program through the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), which is a global multi-donor technical assistance trust fund administered by the World Bank. This new public-partnership involving a major foundation, Governments of the US, Norway, Germany and Peru, multilateral agencies like the WFP, WHO, UNEP, and private companies such as Morgan Stanley and Shell may finally circumvent the `stovepipe’ malaise.

The MDGs: What does climate change have to do with it?

Andrew Steer's picture

Here in New York this week, world leaders have their plates full. Five years to go, and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is mixed. Accelerated action is needed urgently. So with this full agenda, why are there so many meetings this week on climate change? Because climate change is about poverty reduction. Developing countries will bear three-quarters of the negative impact of changing weather patterns, water shortages, and rising sea levels, and they are the least equipped to deal with them. Hard won gains in poverty reduction are at serious risk. This is no longer just tomorrow's problem. Impacts are being felt today. 

 

There is an old-fashioned view that rich countries can afford to think about climate change but developing countries have more urgent short-term needs. This is well and truly debunked by the evidence of where developing countries are putting their money. Four out of five countries we work with, list climate change among the top priorities for their anti-poverty plans. In the past twelve months, nearly 90% of Country Assistance Strategies requested by developing countries, and approved by the World Bank’s Board, listed climate change as one of the major pillars for World Bank support.

Climate Change at the World Bank: We have come a long way

Kseniya Lvovsky's picture

Three years ago, when I came to the Climate Change Team at the World Bank, climate change was a peripheral issue. The links with poverty alleviation were still not clearly understood and hence not considered to be a priority for the Bank’s engagement with developing countries.

 

Today, as I prepare to leave for another assignment, more than 80% of all new Country Assistance or Partnership Strategies that guide World Bank Group support to developing countries  address climate change issues.  Despite the global financial crisis and the resulting economic downturn, the past year has witnessed unprecedented demand from developing countries to help them address development and climate change as interlinked challenges. Within the World Bank Group, climate change has become the glue for sectors, regions, IFC and other entities to work together. A strong community of “development professionals with a climate lens” has emerged and is growing.

 

The preparation of the Strategic Framework on Development and Climate Change (SFDCC) was an unforgettable experience that involved one of the most extensive global consultations ever carried out by the Bank with both internal and external stakeholders. The process itself helped build ownership for climate change work inside the Bank Group and among its client countries. This process has also built broad-based consensus that development comes first and that the main challenge for the development community is to safeguard economic growth and social progress in poorer countries from the impacts of climate change.