This blog post was originally published by Brink News, and has been updated with a fuller chart of carbon pricing.
CGD Policy Blogs
USAID Administrator Samantha Power appeared before House and Senate authorizing committees late last week to discuss the agency’s FY22 budget. It wasn’t surprising to hear Administrator Power make a case for strong US global engagement—including robust aid investments and continued commitment to humanitarian response. But she also demonstrated—in a number of important ways—a clear-eyed focus on development effectiveness. Below we highlight several issues we were glad to see receive attention.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the ban on the international financing of fossil fuels, proposed by Special Envoy John Kerry and others. I argued that such a ban would be particularly devastating for poor countries that are reliant on institutions such as the World Bank to finance much-needed energy projects. For now, the world’s richest countries (also the largest shareholders in the World Bank) have allowed the financing of natural gas projects when no other alternative is available. But this may not last long,
The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is the $60 billion agency that’s supposed to catalyze investment to capital-starved countries, bolster job-creation in emerging markets, and support US foreign policy. The BUILD Act which created the DFC was a bipartisan bill, carefully crafted to overcome long-standing objections from both liberals and conservatives to its beleaguered predecessor agency. Recent actions from the Hill and the White House, each one arguably unobjectionable on its own, all add up to a highly worrying erosion of the DFC’s mandate—that threaten both the political bargain that sustains the agency and US strategic goals across Africa.
President Biden’s announced target to achieve a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within a decade is a tremendous boon to the Paris Climate Agreement goals. Without diminishing the positives of this reset of US policy, it is still important to remember that, with any seismic shift, there will be winners and losers. Recent research has discussed the emerging challenge of fossil fuel producing countries, which risk losing entire swathes of their economies’ production capacities, and thus their wealth.
While a drastic reduction in carbon emissions is necessary to contain climate change, countries still have not reached a consensus on a fair division of responsibilities in reducing them. While advanced economies were the biggest emitters in the past, emerging economies, such as China and India, account for an increasing share of new emissions. From the standpoint of fiscal policy, these carbon emissions, which adversely affect the world’s well-being, are a negative externality. At present, countries do not bear the full cost of these externalities. The cumulative sum of these liabilities can be viewed as a “climate debt” a country owes to the global community.
There is not enough ODA to cope adequately with existing development challenges, and yet it is now being charged with funding a large share of donor country commitments toward global climate finance. We think it should be doubled.
As we pas the 2020 deadline for $100 billion a year of climate finance we look at how much climate finance could be “new and additional” as the original commitment envisaged, and how much each country has contributed.
Our analysis suggests improvements need to be made to ensure mitigation funding has the intended impact. We estimate that a focus on effectiveness could plausibly reduce emissions by an amount equivalent to a year of the UK’s emissions. Here, we draw out three reforms that should accompany any new finance commitments.
Three ways that COP-26 could deliver for those countries are to properly define what counts as “new and additional” climate finance, make sure carbon markets rather than aid pays for the additional costs of mitigation in poorer developing countries, and agree to exempt the poorest countries from carbon tariffs.