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Environmental economics, climate change, natural resource conservation, indicators of sustainable development and country performance, African infrastructure development, priority-setting for country aid allocation
David Wheeler worked at the Center as a senior fellow from 2006 to 2012, primarily on climate policy and information disclosure. During that time he oversaw the creation of two pioneering monitoring tools, Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA), an online database showing the locations, estimated C02 emissions, and ownership of 60,000 power plants worldwide; and Forest Monitoring for Action (FORMA) which uses satellite data to generate regularly updated online maps and alerts of tropical forest clearing. CARMA continues to be maintained by CGD, while FORMA was transferred to the World Resources Institute (WRI) to become a key component of Global Forest Watch.
Before joining CGD Wheeler worked for 13 years as lead economist in the World Bank's Development Research Group where he directed a team that worked on environmental policy and research issues in collaboration with policymakers and academics in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Ghana and other developing countries. His team focused particularly on reducing pollution through public information disclosure, in collaboration with the environment ministries of China, Indonesia and the Philippines. He also worked on priority-setting for country lending, grants and technical assistance.
After completing his PhD in 1974, Wheeler taught economics for two years at the National University of Zaire in Kinshasa. He joined the economics faculty at Boston University in 1976, and taught there until he joined the World Bank in 1990. While on the BU faculty, he was a visiting professor in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning (1978-79), a co-founder and principal of the Boston Institute for Developing Economies (1987-1990), and Jakarta field director of the Development Studies Project for BAPPENAS, Indonesia's Planning Ministry (1987-1989).
"Disclosure Strategies for Pollution Control," 2005, in The International Yearbook of Environmental and Resource Economics 2005/2006: A Survey of Current Issues (New Horizons in Environmental Economics), Tom Tietenberg and Henk Folmer (eds.) (Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar) (with Susmita Dasgupta and Hua Wang).
"Can China Grow and Safeguard Its Environment? The Case of Industrial Pollution," 2003, in N. Hope (ed.), Policy Reform in China, (Stanford: Stanford University Press) (with Hua Wang and Susmita Dasgupta).
"Minute Particles, Major Problems: Cleaning the Air in Developing Countries," 2001, Forum For Applied Research and Public Policy, Vol. 16, No. 3, Fall (with Katherine Bolt, Susmita Dasgupta and Kiran Pandey).
CGD research fellow David Wheeler applies econometric analysis to politics to discover the reasons behind the Senate’s failure to pass Warner-Lieberman, the first carbon cap-and-trade legislation to come up for a Senate vote. He finds that opposition can be explained by measurable variables—especially state-wide median income: senators from states with lower incomes were much more likely to vote against. Wheeler suggests that the next cap-and-trade bill should include plans to distribute some of the proceeds from carbon auctions directly to citizens in equal per capita payments to offset the economic burden on lower-income Americans and help align them and their Senators with the need to rapidly cut emissions.
This is a joint posting with David Wheeler
The International Finance Corporation, the private sector investment arm of the World Bank, is set to have yet another banner year with profits in the range of $2 billion. As the IFC's equity stakes in services, telecommunications and particularly in oil and gas have grown, so have its profits. In FY07, IFC invested more than $8 billion of its own money and mobilized nearly $4 billion more. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it invested about $1.4 billion, doubling its investments from the previous year. In FY08, these numbers look to be even larger. If the IFC continues on its current path, in five years its portfolio will be larger than that of the World Bank itself.
Congress will consider new legislation this week that would contribute $400 million to a multilateral Clean Technology Fund (CTF) administered by the World Bank to promote low-carbon energy production in developing countries. But before any money changes hands, lawmakers are demanding key reforms to World Bank investment policies that mirror recommendations CGD senior fellow David Wheeler set out in congressional testimony earlier this month. CGD outreach and policy associate Joel Meister reports that the new bill requires CTF investments to show a preference for zero-carbon energy alternatives like solar thermal power and directs the multilateral development banks to adopt carbon accounting. Meister commends the provisions and says if the House Financial Services committee maintains them during markup of the bill this week it could mean big changes for the World Bank's role in addressing the climate crisis.