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Environment

Natural resource booms are a mixed blessing for local communities, too*

Punam Chuhan-Pole's picture

The impact of natural resource wealth on macroeconomic outcomes is well researched, with the debate centered on whether resources are bad for development (i.e., the phenomenon of the resource curse). However, relatively little attention has been given to examining the effect on communities where those resources are located. 

But interest in the local impact of resource abundance is growing, underpinning a nascent literature.  The focus of this research is on exploring whether extractive activities improve or harm welfare in adjoining regions, and how the benefits or costs are transmitted to the local population.  The answers to these questions can inform policy, leading to better outcomes, and may also help us understand the sources of regional and social tensions associated with extractive industries. 

What, exactly, is a fossil fuel subsidy? A review of valuation approaches

Masami Kojima's picture
Half a trillion dollars? Two trillion dollars? “Only” 85 billion? Widely-differing numbers have been cited in recent years for global fossil fuel subsidies, making policy evaluation and consensus-building on reform challenging. Different definitions for subsidies, the boundaries of review, and the methods for calculating subsidies are responsible for the large differences and have contributed to the confusion.

Sustainable poverty reduction and green growth

Ulf Narloch's picture

Ending poverty and achieving shared prosperity will require more than economic growth. It will require pro-poor policies to be sustainable.
 
The recently released Global Monitoring Report 2014/2015 focuses on the importance of sustainability as a means to enable countries to reach out to their poorest people over the medium term (to 2030) and long term (beyond 2030). 

Controlling Global Climate Change

Michael Toman's picture

The recently released fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes abundantly clear that human-induced climate change is taking place, and that unchecked climate change poses a serious threat to economic development and human well-being.  Even leaving aside the problem of increased risk of low-probability but catastrophic events, climate change threatens people and places through damages to unique and important ecosystems, increases in severe weather events, reductions in productivity, and needs for increased expenditures to counter the threats such as greater costs to build and maintain infrastructure.  For a number of reasons, the poor are likely to be disproportionately affected by these threats.

Carbon Taxes and Investment in Public Transport

Stéphane Hallegatte's picture

Economists often recommend fuel taxes to curb greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles in cities. But the effectiveness of these taxes depends heavily on other factors, like the availability of public transportation, and the density of a city. In the following podcast interview, I discuss my paper, co-authored with Paolo Avner and Jun Rentschler, and explain why taxes are twice as effective when accompanied by an investment in public transport. Please listen in.

Valuing preservation of the Amazon rainforest

Jon Strand's picture

An ambitious research project aiming to map the value of preserving the Amazon rainforest is just getting started at the World Bank. Why is it important to value the Amazon rainforest? Consider the perhaps most fundamental dilemma for conservation policy, with two opposing views. A “conservation” view is to assume that the rainforest should always be protected. A “development” view implies that the rainforest should always be converted to alternative uses (such as agriculture) when such conversion implies clear and readily measurable financial gains. Very often these two views cannot be reconciled, as the value attributed to forest protection by each of them can be dramatically different.

Increasing Flood Risks Create Major Challenges for World’s Coastal Cities

Stéphane Hallegatte's picture

Increasing flood risks create a major political and institutional challenge for the world’s coastal cities as ambitious and proactive action at the local level over the next decades will be needed to avoid large-scale flood disasters. However, the implementation of flood risk management policies meets many obstacles. 

In a recent study written with colleagues Colin Green, Robert Nicholls and Jan Corfee-Morlot as part of an OECD project on urban vulnerability, we estimate how flood risks could change in the future in 136 coastal cities, in response to increasing population and wealth, local environmental change, and climate change. We find that because current flood defenses and urbanization patterns have been designed for past environmental conditions, even a moderate change in sea level is sufficient to make them inadequate, thus magnifying flood losses to catastrophic levels. If no action is taken to reduce flood vulnerability, most coastal cities would become inhospitable and dangerous places to live, with annual losses in excess of $1 trillion dollars.
 

What is the Bank’s principal mission on climate finance and mitigation?

Jon Strand's picture

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is putting policies to meet and combat climate change on top of the Bank’s agenda. That is extremely timely and has the potential to fundamentally revitalize the Bank, making it more relevant in today’s world.

Global finance for new clean energy projects is currently at $300-400 billion per year, of which the Bank funds about $10 billion. The International Energy Agency estimates that a minimum agenda, compatible with a two-degree temperature target, requires “green” energy investments of about $1 trillion per year. The Bank alone will only be able to provide a small portion of such additional finance.

Coastal Wetlands Highly Vulnerable to Sea-Level Rise

Susmita Dasgupta's picture

Photo: istockphoto.comSea-level rise from climate change is a serious global threat, and there is overwhelming scientific evidence that sea-level will continue to rise for centuries even if green house gas concentrations were to be stabilized today.

Recently, Brian Blankespoor, Benoit Laplante and I investigated potential impacts of sea-level rise on coastal wetlands. Our study indicates a rise in sea levels due to climate change of just one meter could destroy more than 60 percent of the developing world’s coastal wetlands currently found at one meter or less elevation. We estimate that such a rise would lead to economic losses of around $630 million per year. 

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