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How Can We Untie the Climate-Development Gordian Knot?

Jean-Charles Hourcade's picture

   Photo © iStockphoto.com
The participation of developing countries is essential for effective climate policy. But this participation is hampered by the fact that many developing countries perceive environmental policies as a new form of Malthusianism. And unfortunately, despite repeated references to sustainable development in the climate negotiations, the debates about climate and development policies continue to occur in separate spheres. A new Gordian knot has been tied through a succession of misunderstandings.

Economists may have caused some of these misunderstandings by laying out simple principles that are useful as a introduction to the underlying economic parameters of climate policies: first, a unique carbon price (through carbon taxes or a cap & trade system) to foster carbon saving behaviours without distorting international competition; second, compensatory transfers to offset the adverse impact of higher energy prices for the most affected countries. But this has resulted in climate policies being considered a cost-minimization exercise conducted regardless of the nature of development issues.

Sea-Level Rise and Storm Surges: New Data on 500 Cities

Susmita Dasgupta's picture

In April 2009, I blogged on a paper co-authored with David Wheeler (Center for Global Development) on the impact of sea-level rise and storm surges in developing countries. David has extended this work further to include the potential future impact of sea-level rise for more than 500 cities, given changes in population. The results are stunning, and show a huge potential impact concentration in a few hot-spot cities. 

In Defense of Diversity

Nicola Cenacchi's picture

Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Photo © Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust

If you are not familiar with it, I highly recommend taking a look at the TED website. TED is a small nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading”. It organizes conferences where people from different fields and walks of life, scientists, engineers, and politicians, can present their ideas and projects.

The talks are filmed and made available for free on their website, which now contains a vast collection of brilliant presentations and speeches, always informative and at times downright jaw-dropping (in fact, “jaw dropping” is one of the categories you can use to scan through the presentations.)

The presentation that recently caught my attention is one by Cary Fowler, about the importance of genetic diversity in agriculture. Dr Fowler is Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, whose mission is to conserve Earth’s agricultural biodiversity. Jointly funded in 2004 by FAO and Biodiversity International the Trust worked with the Norwegian Government and the Nordic Gene bank to create the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, also dubbed by the media “the Doomsday vault,” which was officially opened on February 26, 2008.

Mitigation Costs Update

Marianne Fay's picture

A question we’ve been asked (and have asked ourselves) is how much climate change mitigation will cost developing countries.   We recently revised our numbers so that the ones presented in the final version of the World Development Report 2010, due out in early November, differ from those in the advance version of the report, which is now online. 

What are our new numbers? Here goes: In the medium term estimates of mitigation costs in developing countries ranges between $140 billion and $175 billion annually by 2030.  That is the annual net cost of developing-country mitigation  measures to stay on a  2 °C trajectory.

But financing needs will be higher however as many of the savings from the lower operating costs associated with renewable energy and energy efficiency gains only materialize over time.  McKinsey, for example, estimates that while the incremental cost in 2030 would be $175 billion, the upfront investments required would amount to $563 billion (over and above business-as-usual investment needs).  McKinsey points out that this amounts to a roughly 3 percent increase in global business-as-usual investments, and as such is likely to be within the capacity of global financial markets (McKinsey 2009).

Renewable, Clean - and Lycra-clad - Energy

300 miles. Starting September 26, about 200 cyclists, including myself, will embark on a 300 mile, 5-day ride from New York City to the steps of the Capitol in Washington, DC to promote awareness for climate change and to raise money for rails-to-trails conservancies and clean energy NGOs (http://www.climateride.org/). If I were to drive the same distance, using my beloved '93 Ford Probe (Ford Mustang Lite), my gas consumption would produce about 100 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

Africa’s Development in a Changing Climate

Marianne Fay's picture

 
    Photo © World Bank
In step with our Nairobi launch of the World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change, we issued a news release focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa , as well as a policy booklet containing the main messages of the report for Africa and elements from the World Bank’s climate change strategy in this region.

The booklet draws attention to the urgent need to tackle the varied impacts of climate change on Africa’s agriculture, forests, food security, energy, water, infrastructure, health, and education. The continent’s natural fragility means that changes in rainfall patterns, increased droughts and floods, and sea level rise are already causing damage and affecting people’s lives.

Preparation, not procrastination, for effective drought management

Nate Engle's picture
Preparation, not procrastination, for effective drought management
    Photo © World Bank

As more frequent and intense droughts (which I described in a previous post as the ‘dry face of climate variability’) are expected in the future with climate change, there is an urgent need for more such efforts across the world to improve and expand the mechanisms for managing and coping with them. 

Because drought is spatially widespread and can last for long periods of time, its management extends from the household to the international level. We approach drought management in different ways depending on the sector or resource, and it is usually addressed reactively, rather than proactively.

Supporting Low Carbon Development: Six country cases

Jane Ebinger's picture

A year ago I was assigned from a World Bank operations team providing support to countries in Europe and Central Asia on energy, climate mitigation and adaptation to work in a Bank administered trust fund, the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), as a thematic coordinator for energy and climate change in this program. One of my roles is to coordinate a program that is providing support to six emerging economies—Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa—that are proactively seeking to identify opportunities and related financial, technical and policy requirements to move towards a low carbon growth path.

The program has been underway for two years and individual country studies have been managed by World Bank operational teams. The governments of these countries have initiated country-specific studies to assess their goals and development priorities, in conjunction with greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation opportunities, and examine the additional costs and benefits of lower carbon growth. This requires analysis of various development pathways—policy and investment options that contribute to growth and development objectives while moderating increases in GHG emissions.

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