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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).
New research by David Wheeler shows that developing countries have borne their fair share of global mitigation expenditures relative to per-capita income. The challenge now is for rich countries to do the same.
The World Bank’s expanding public information mandate is the focus of Stephanie Strom’s excellent article in Saturday’s New York Times. During Robert Zoellick’s tenure as the Bank’s president, he has promoted free public access to databases that formerly required a paid subscription, such as the World Development Indicators, or were simply unavailable (such as detailed information on the location, design, objectives and performance of Bank projects). We have no doubt that this excellent initiative will be a boon to development analysts and scholars worldwide.
“The threat of climate change is no less menacing than the security threats that we face.”
- Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak to a joint session of Congress on Monday, at the invitation of House speaker John Boehner. In his invitation, the speaker said, “America and Israel are the closest of friends and allies, and we look forward to hearing the prime minister’s views on how we can continue working together for peace, freedom and stability.”
The latest news from FORMA (Forest Monitoring for Action) is very bad. Figure 1 shows that the FORMA index of global forest clearing rose 60% from January, 2007 to October, 2012. It declined during the economic crisis, from late 2008 to early 2010, but has climbed steadily since then. To make matters worse, this increase has been accompanied by rapid dispersion of clearing. As Table 1 shows, only Brazil has displayed a significant decline during the past five years. The FORMA indicator has increased slightly in Indonesia and sharply in other regions of Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. In January, 2007, Brazil and Indonesia accounted for 77.3% of the global indicator total. By October, 2012, their share had fallen to 39.4%.
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.
Despite major fertility declines that have taken place in recent decades almost all over the world, population growth is far from over. As Ken Weiss points out in a recent five-part series in the Los Angeles Times, the adverse effects of population growth are well documented and wide ranging. But population reduction through fertility declines may also have unintended consequences if proper policies aren’t in place early on.