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August 2009

A global climate change venture capital fund would be useful but not a panacea

Jean-Louis Racine's picture

Proposals aiming to boost innovative climate change solutions often include some form of publicly-supported global venture capital (VC) fund.  The rationale for such a fund is that government funding is generally available for R&D and private financing is available for the commercialization of mature technologies; but funding is unavailable for entrepreneurial activities—such as proof-of-concept, piloting, firm-building, and marketing—that happen between these two stages. Given this situation, a global climate change VC fund could have a decidedly stimulating effect. Of course, it would also be important for governments not to put all their eggs in this basket, since the VC instrument could quickly reach its limits.

The financing gap is particularly severe for climate change mitigation and adaptation technologies for a number of reasons. Not only is the market for these technologies still at a very early stage of development but it is also driven by regulation. Both of these factors represent significant risks for investors. In addition, low carbon technologies tend to be more capital-intensive and require much more start-up financing than other typical VC investment sectors like information technology. The funding gap is particularly deep in the developing world, which presents a riskier business environment and a more fragmented market for investors.

Several VC-style climate-change funds have recently been launched. The Carbon Trust, established by the British government, already invests in clean-technology firms based in the UK.  In partnership with the Qatar Investment Authority, the Carbon Trust plans to set up a £250 million fund called the Qatar-UK Clean Technology Investment Fund, to be supported by both governments. The fund will primarily invest in the UK, but also to some extent in continental Europe and the Gulf Region. This will be the first major publicly-supported climate change VC fund of its size involving more than one country.

Can Zimbabwe Turn the Corner?

Praveen Kumar's picture

Much has changed in Zimbabwe since last November. There are signs of recovery following the return of price stability after full dollarization in January. However doubts about the political situation continue to obstruct further recovery.

The most visible sign of improvement is the demise of surreal hyperinflation which according to one estimate peaked at about 80 billion percent. Interestingly, full dollarization initially occurred not because the government chose it as a deliberate stabilization measure.  Exasperated residents simply abandoned the Zimbabwean dollar and moved on to using multiple hard currencies.  In January, the Government too abandoned the Zimbabwean dollar and started using the US Dollar and the South African Rand for both collecting taxes and spending.  Hyperinflation died a natural death in Zimbabwe, it was not tamed.

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"When real people argue about politics with friends and associates, they probably will not formulate new arguments or articulate reasons entirely by themselves as deliberative theory advocates.  After all, even those pundits who argue as 'professionals' are mostly rehashing preexisting political arguments.  But citizens do need to be skilled at picking among these competing arguments, and at circulating them among themselves, trying them out in informal conversation and discarding those that do not ring true.  The marketplace of ideas will not work properly if political elites are the only ones involved."

                  - Diana C. Mutz (2006, pp. 149-150)
                    Hearing the Other Side:
                    Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy   

 

Photo credit: The Brookings Institution

Access to credit and employment protection legislation

Might access to credit have anything to do with support for employment protection legislation (EPL)? Felipe Balmaceda and Ronald Fischer propose a connection. Workers in firms with easy access to credit EPL. Workers in firms with shaky access to credit oppose EPL.

Private Companies’ Response to the Crisis

Raj Nallari's picture

Ernst & Young interviewed a large of number of managers and owners of companies around the world, first in January 2009 and again in June 2009 [1]. Companies were surprised by the speed and severity of downturn and the impact was more than expected in January 2009. Many respondents feel that the crisis has permanently changed their operating model (43%), the regulatory framework for their sector (45%) and risk management (56%). The compilation of their responses on the impact of and responses to the crisis is quite revealing.

Citizen Inspectors General to the Rescue

Fumiko Nagano's picture

According to The Financial Times, the U.S. government’s Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board plans to launch in October what the FT calls “the most complex government website in history." The Recovery Board, an independent body headed by Chairman Earl Devaney, is tasked to oversee the outflow of the US $787 billion stimulus package to jumpstart the ailing economy, and the state-of the-art website is intended to engage citizens in tracking the use of taxpayer money.

What caught my attention is the premise behind this initiative—that citizens know best what is happening in their own communities. In an effort to rein in waste, fraud, and abuse of stimulus funds, the Recovery Board is putting into practice the principles of accountability and transparency through partnership with citizens. The Board understands that to carry out its mandate successfully, it needs to equip citizens with information so that they can help the Board do its job. As Mr. Devaney explains, “The website will unleash a million citizen IGs [inspectors-general].”

How Web design can show the forward march of gender in project design

Molly Norris's picture

Fighting poverty means helping women not as an afterthought, but as forethought. Women’s disproportionate share of the poor makes them a special demographic. And we’re targeting them more and more.

Last year, 45 percent of lending operations looked through a gender lens when planning their projects -- up 10 percent from the year before. Project planners ran gender assessments, set aside resources for gender initiatives and broadly incorporated gender into project components.

Enter the Web. Mouse over the infographic below to take a look region-by-region.


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