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Environment

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. 

Early Warning Weather Systems Have Very Real Benefits

Stéphane Hallegatte's picture

For poor countries, building weather and hydrological services to produce reliable forecasts often does not appear as a priority. Such services are seen as a luxury, rather than a necessity, in low income countries. But is it really the case?

In many countries, human and economic losses caused by weather extremes are on the rise, and they sometimes increase more rapidly than wealth. In some regions, natural disasters now represent a significant obstacle to poverty alleviation at the household level (many studies show that disasters can put households in poverty traps) and at the macro level (some regions are affected by regular events and spend a large fraction of their resources for reconstruction instead of development).

Poverty measurement, electricity generation, emissions, universal health care, greenhouse issues and financial literacy

Merrell Tuck-Primdahl's picture

This week, amidst fireworks and stultifying Washington heat, five Policy Research Working Papers were published. They cover weakly relative poverty measures, PPPs in electricity generation, carbon emissions, universal health care, financial literacy, and economic analysis of projects in a greenhouse world.

    ‘Green’ growth, ‘green’ jobs and labor markets

    Alex Bowen's picture

    Much of the attraction of ‘green’ growth to politicians and policy-makers is the apparent promise of job creation.  Many developing countries face the prospect of rapidly growing labor forces, so measures that stimulate labor demand look attractive.  But is the promise justified?  That depends on how labor markets work and how ‘green’ growth policies are implemented.

    Gasoline and Other Fossil Fuel Taxes: Why Are They Not Used?

    Jon Strand's picture

    When I moved from Norway to Washington with my family almost seven years ago, I went from paying more than $8 per gallon for gasoline in Oslo, to around $3 per gallon in the U.S. Our house is close to a bus stop for getting to the Metro, but the bus service is unreliable.  Here is a first-hand illustration of how the price of gasoline affects people’s behavior.  It is inexpensive to drive, so relatively few people are strongly dependent on bus service; with limited ridership there is less call for more reliable bus service and less money available to provide it.  Where it is more expensive to drive, there is greater demand for higher-quality service and lower demand for more fuel-intensive cars.  And fewer people want to live far away from their jobs or schools, or in very large dwellings that are costly to heat and cool.  Our work in energy and environmental economics confirms how economically sound energy pricing is crucial for inducing more efficient behavior.

    Potential Future Impacts of Increased Biofuels Use

    Govinda Timilsina's picture

    This entry is part of a series of posts written by members of the Environment and Energy team of the World Bank's Research Group on economic and policy issues involving energy and climate change mitigation.

    Ongoing controversy has surrounded production of crop-based biofuels, ostensibly for the purposes of increase renewable energy use and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that causes global warming.   To illustrate, a recent report on price volatility in food and agricultural markets prepared by numerous international organizations, including the World Bank, at the request of G20 Governments recommended elimination of current national policies that subsidize or mandate biofuels production or consumption. Some international non-governmental organizations, such as Action Aid strongly supported the recommendation, while some other organizations, such as Renewable Fuel Association opposed it. The June meeting of G20 agriculture ministers did not make any decision in favor or against biofuels, deciding instead to have further analysis.

    The Global Energy Challenge

    Ioannis N Kessides's picture

    This entry is the first of a series of posts written by members of the World Bank's Development Research group's Environment and Energy team on economic and policy issues involving energy and climate change mitigation.

    Issues relating to energy are among the most important and difficult challenges confronting the world today.  Providing sufficient energy to meet the requirements of a growing world population with rising living standards will require major advances in energy supply and efficiency. Doing this while mitigating the risks of climate disruption will be an even more challenging undertaking.  It will require a significant shift in the historic pattern of fossil-fuel use and a major transformation of the global energy system.  Especially in the developing countries, the choice of technology, policy, and economic levers that will be used to transform and expand their energy systems will have profound implications for their growth, international competitiveness, and economic security and prosperity.   This overview focuses on the challenges related to electricity supply; subsequent blogs will address other parts of the energy system.

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