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Climate Change

Money matters: In Tianjin, Washington and Addis Ababa

Andrew Steer's picture

Less than two months to Cancun COP 16 and three money issues from last year’s Copenhagen Accord are in the spotlight.

  • Will the US$30 billion Fast Start promise be kept?  
  • How will the Secretary General’s Advisory Group on Finance address the long term US$100 billion annual figure?
  • Where next on design of the Green Fund?

How these questions will be answered matters a lot―as any delegate at last week’s negotiations in Tianjin would tell you.  The answers―especially to question 1―will either build or destroy trust, an essential, but so-far elusive, ingredient to a successful outcome.

 

Look at the World Resources Institute (WRI) web site and a moderately encouraging picture on Fast Start emerges. Adding the pledges of all individual annex 1 countries and about US$27 billion of the US$30 billion global pledge for 2010-2012 seems to be in the bag, according to WRI. But pledges are the stuff of speeches. In the cold light of day they need to be translated into signed commitments for programs and then actually disbursed. That’s why a new semi-official monitoring system has been created. Led by the Dutch and eight other parties, countries are invited to post their commitments and cash flows on a web site. So far only eight Annex 1 countries have uploaded their detailed commitments, adding to only a small fraction of the US$30 billion. So it’s really important that others quickly follow.  In Tianjin the Mexican COP presidency hosted a seminar for negotiators on Fast Start. We agreed that definitional issues are messy, that we will need to iterate toward an accurate picture, and that time is not on our side.  I presented the World Bank Group’s understanding, and described our work with finance ministers.

 

License to Save?

Pierce Brosnan's picture

My life has always been connected to nature -- from the banks of the River Boyne in southern Ireland where I grew up as a child, to the shorelines of California and Hawaii where I reside with my wife Keely and our sons. Between these two worlds and an ocean of time spent traveling the world as a working actor, I have seen the beauty of what man can achieve on this earth and also what can happen when he lets nature slip through his fingers.

 

Last evening I was at the World Bank where we saw excerpts from National Geographic’s soon-to-be aired global programming event, “Great Migrations”, that show just how fragile the lives of some of the great animals of our world are today. The majestic African elephant, or the fleet wildebeest, are confronted with obstacles in their daily existence that threatens their very continuation as a species. As we expand our human footprint across the planet, we have paved over their breeding grounds, plowed under their grazing areas, depleted their sources of water, and disrupted their historic migratory routes.

 

Climate change is adding to the immense dangers facing bio-diversity. In my native Ireland, at least eight species of birds, such as the gray partridge, face extinction, due to the loss of habitat, reduction in food supplies, poisonings from pesticides, and wide scale development. In my adopted home, here in the United States, the Grey Whales that migrate north and south just off our California coast have survived since the ice age. Yet, these whales face more threats today than ever before from ship strikes, loss of habitat, pollution, and other human activities. Climate change is destroying the food chain they need to survive.

Talking about climate change this weekend

Jamal Saghir's picture

In the first few hours of the IMF/World Bank annual meetings this week, the subject of climate change has come up again and again.

 

Our partners in Sub-Saharan Africa live in one of the most natural-resource dependent regions in the world: 70% of people depend on rainfed agriculture; fisheries employ an estimated 25 million people throughout the continent; and wood fuels account for more than 90% of household energy consumption in the region. If developed wisely, natural resources can and will drive Africa’s future growth.

 

But the challenge of sustainable development is made more difficult by climate change. As the World Bank Vice President for Africa, Obiageli Ezekwesili, has said: “Climate change is a development challenge. You cannot address one without addressing the other.”

 

Thankfully – there are experiences around the world – including from Africa – that show that climate-smart growth is possible. And we’ll be talking about those experiences this weekend during the IMF/World Bank annual meetings. Africa is ready to test and scale-up climate-resilient development strategies and leverage new financing to leapfrog some of the older technologies that contribute to climate change.

 

The World Bank is working with African partners on innovative responses to adaptation and mitigation – by building mass transit in Lagos, supporting cross-border water resource planning in the Niger Basin, and making buildings that can withstand cyclones in Madagascar. 

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.

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.

What Does It Take To Build A Wind Turbine Industry?

Anthony Lambkin's picture

Photo: Wind turbinesIn less than 10 years, firms in China, India and South Korea progressed from no wind turbine manufacturing experience to state-of-the-art wind turbine systems. Consider this: Goldwind from China installed 2,727 MW in 2009, a 140% increase on 2008 that saw its international market share rise to 7.2%. The Indian company Suzlon owns 9% of the global market share. What policies led to such robust domestic wind power development?

Last month, the International Finance Corporation's (IFC's) Cleantech Investment Program hosted Dr. Joanna Lewis, a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, to share research on the strategies used by wind power technology companies in China, India and South Korea to develop wind turbine technology. Lewis is working on a paper that details case studies of the current industry leaders in these three countries, including Suzlon (India), Goldwind (China), and Hyundai, Doosan and Daewoo (South Korea).

We will miss you Stephen

Anita Gordon's picture

When Stephen Schneider died on July 19th at the age of 65, the world lost a giant in climate change science. Stephen was one of the first prominent scientists to highlight the importance of human caused climate change. He was one of the early pioneers of computer modeling of the global climate system that helped understand future scenarios. He became the editor of an important journal, Climatic Change, and an influential member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as advisor to a number of U.S. presidents.  

 

For me the loss was more personal …I lost an old friend and inspiration. I first met Stephen at American Association for Advancement of Science meetings in the early 80swhere he was making a name for himself as the great explainer of ‘global warming’ as we all called it at that time. I was then the executive producer of the flagship science program on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and Stephen was the kind of interviewee you could only dream of. He was passionate, articulate, funny and smart and had a lot to say. He was a producer’s joy, one of those great communicators that spoke to ‘everyman’ …and he talked so fast that we always thought we got double the value in every interview we did with him. And boy did he make sense. The nay sayers of climate change were out in force in those days too, but Stephen cut a swath through them with his logic and clarity.  

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