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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).
Senior fellow David Wheeler quantifies and makes available in this dataset the vulnerability of 233 countries to three major effects of climate change (weather-related disasters, sea-level rise, and reduced agricultural productivity).
Developed countries have promised to mobilize $100 billion per year to help developing countries combat climate change, a commitment that will require substantial capital from private investors. The authors of this working paper propose a public-private green venture fund (GVF) to promote the development and deployment of low-carbon technologies for poor countries.
The April 5, 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report predicts that droughts and floods will become more frequent and severe as a result of global warming. In this CGD Note senior fellow David Wheeler shows that citizens of poor countries are much more likely than citizens in rich countries to suffer homelessness, injury and death from flood. He urges the international community to help low-income countries develop stronger protective institutions, greater resources for flood protection, and affordable insurance.
CGD's Forest Conservation Performance Rating (fCPR) uses satellite-based forest clearing indicators from FORMA (Forest Monitoring for Action) to measure tropical forest conservation in three dimensions: (1) progress toward elimination of tropical forest clearing by 2050; (2) progress toward achieving more ambitious REDD+ goals; and (3) achieving an immediate reduction in forest clearing. The system can be implemented for local areas, countries, regions, and the entire pan-tropics.
In February 2010, we wrote about how the relative magnitude of the death toll from the Haiti earthquake, then reckoned at approximately 230,000, compared to other recent natural disasters. On the one year anniversary of the earthquake, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive announced that a year’s worth of recovery efforts had provided a revised death toll of 316,000, representing nearly 3.5% of Haiti’s total population (a comparable disaster in the United States would kill 10.5 million people). Death tolls from such extensive natural disasters are subject to uncertainty, but it appears the last event that definitively exceeds the toll from the Haiti earthquake was Cyclone Bhola, which struck East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1970, killing as many as 500,000. Considering these numbers, the 2010 Haiti earthquake was the most deadly natural disaster of the last forty years.
David Wheeler offers commentary on slides that illustrate his forthcoming paper with Kevin Ummel on a dynamic strategy for developing solar thermal power as a cost-competitive alternative to coal-fired power. They have presented versions of these slides at a number of conferences and policy workshops during the past two months. This is a summary of the forthcoming paper and its conclusions.