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Climate Change

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.  

Can Corporations Lead When Governments Don’t?

Alan Miller's picture

The past week saw the final demise of proposals for U.S. legislation to address climate change, and a sense of gloom pervades discussion about prospects for a similar effort by the new Congress next year. Among major corporations, however, one can still find many examples of impressive environmental initiatives and investments. The same week, for example, General Motors (GM) announced two costly steps predicated on consumer demand or regulatory pressure for environmental performance. The more highly publicized news was that GM would begin accepting orders for its long awaited hybrid electric car, the Volt. The Company attracted less fanfare for another product with more immediate environmental benefits, the introduction of a new climate friendly refrigerant for auto air conditioning – replacing a chemical with a global warming potential (GWP) of 1400 with one that has a GWP of 4, a 99.7% improvement over current emissions. (It is worth noting that auto air conditioning has become so popular that its one of the only features available as an add-on to the Nano in India).

 

 In June, General Electric announced that the performance of its “eco-imagination” initiative, a commitment to develop and market a growing range of green products, was meeting revenue targets and outperforming revenue growth in the company as a whole. Consequently, the company plans to double its investment in the initiative over the next five years.

A choice between feeding or saving the planet?

Elwyn Grainger-Jones's picture

News from the Sahel region of Africa is not good – failed rains leading to famine. Worst affected is Niger, where half of that nation’s 15 million people now face severe food shortages after several years of drought. Climate change will only increase the frequency of such events.

 

For most people living in this area, agriculture is their main source of income. The International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD) believes that good agricultural and rural development programs can both help to feed a growing population and conserve the planet we live on. For example, last week one of my team met Baraka. Her family farms a small patch of land in the Maradi region of Niger, where we are helping her and the others in the village introduce zero-till agriculture and regenerate degraded ecosystems to increase food production. Farming in a sustainable way also strengthens their capacity to deal with climate change.

 

It was images of villages like this that were in my mind when earlier this month, I was invited to the World Bank in Washington to discuss the links among climate, environment and agriculture. We―bank staff and representatives of the NGO development and research communities―asked ourselves one simple question: Are we linking these issues together or do we still see them in separate boxes?

Bangladesh sets a world record – 5 million CFLs in a day, one bulb at a time!

Ashok Sarkar's picture

If you were in Bangladesh in June, you would have found teachers in schools, preachers in mosques, and ads in newspapers, television, loudspeakers and pamphlets, encouraging people to bring in their incandescent bulbs to exchange with new Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) – and encouraged they were! On Saturday, June 19th 2010, at over 1,400 rural and urban distribution centers spread across 27 districts, manned by teachers, utility workers and other volunteers, Bangladeshis collectively took home about five million high quality CFL bulbs, in the first round of distribution.

 

CFL bulbThey broke a record set by the British in January of 2008, for the most number of CFL bulbs distributed in a single day―some 4.5 million. In June, the Government and people of Bangladesh were inspired to do even better … and they did!

 

I was there to witness and watch this remarkable moment. What struck me as most impressive was that the entire process had the air of a popular election campaign. The mood throughout the country was festive, and people were happy to switch to CFLs and to help do what they could to improve the delicate electric power situation in Bangladesh.

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