- News Update
|Photo © Julia Bucknall/World Bank|
The Gulf News is reporting that oil-rich United Arab Emirates is among the few developing countries to host a major international organization. Abu Dhabi will be the interim headquarters for the International Renewable Energy Agency, appealingly named IRENA. That fact is remarkable enough, but what is really surprising is that it was chosen over environmental powerhouses Germany, Austria, and Denmark.
The World Development Report is full of recommendations – transform agricultural subsidies in rich countries, make US$ 50bn a year in additional funding available for adaptation in developing countries – that readers may be tempted to dismiss as politically impossible. Yet political transformations are possible. Ten years ago would anyone have thought that Abu Dhabi could become a leader in sustainable development? The transformation reaches deep. Consultants making recommendations about the UAE's drinking water tell us that reform of the tariff structure is now being considered at the highest levels - not because it would improve water management, but because the efficiency gains predicted would reduce the country's carbon footprint.
Even if all emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosol precursors ended today, more warming would occur in coming decades than the 0.8°C that has occurred to date, greatly intensifying climate change and its associated impacts. Already, sea level is rising, sea ice and mountain glaciers are retreating, the ranges of plant and animal species are shifting poleward and upward, and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are both losing mass. Each round of the assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that change is occurring more rapidly than previously projected.
The World Bank Group advocates the integration of development issues into the next global climate agreement, without taking sides based on the negotiating positions of individual parties to the UNFCCC. One of the purposes of the upcoming World Development Report (WDR) 2010: Development and Climate Change—as well as a number of other country-level studies at various stages of completion—is to actively share economic analysis and practical knowledge intended to help policymakers in various countries take informed decisions on poverty reduction and sustainable development in “a changing climate”.
We are often inspired by strong oratory based on solid data, and carefully expressed facts. Many of us spend our lives trying to craft messages from sprawling data to figure out the best way to proceed.
Yet we are also inspired by the beauty of words or images. In the US, a book was published recently called "Can Poetry Save the Earth". I found a story about it on the National Public Radio website.
The author of the book, John Felstiner, selected one poem that, he thought, could really save the earth if everyone read it.