Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD Policy Blogs

 

An image of carbon dioxide smokestacks.

Is $100 Billion a Year Enough to Cover the Cost of Climate Damage?

A central commitment of action on climate is the promise of “developed countries” to jointly mobilize $100 billion of climate finance per year by 2020 (and through to 2025). How does this promise—which developed countries have so far failed to reach—compare to the actual cost of the damage caused by their emissions? Today we publish a paper that answers that question by estimating the liability each country bears for the costs of damage caused by carbon emissions to date. We limit this liability with two assumptions. First, we only count damage from when international awareness of climate issues grew. Second, we reduce the cost applied to older emissions. These limitations are arguably conservative—and we consider other scenarios in the paper.

An image of land impacted by a drought due to climate change.

A Hot Topic: The Role of US Development Assistance in Addressing the Climate Crisis

With COP26 only weeks away, policymakers around the world are focusing renewed attention on the climate crisis—and the US Congress is no exception. An upcoming House Foreign Affairs hearing, convened jointly by the Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact and the Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber, will profile US plans to combat climate change through development assistance.  

USAID Administrator Samantha Power speaks at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.

Power Play: USAID's Administrator Makes the Case for Global Engagement, More Focus on Effectiveness

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.  

Sunset at a natural gas plant. Adobe Stock

Climate Colonialism Update: More Proposed Bans on Financing of Fossil Fuels (Only for the Poor)

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 capitol building

How Congress Is Turning DFC into an Agency Serving Poland and Israel but not Senegal or Ghana

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.

An oil rig from a distance

Four Challenges for Fossil Fuel Producing Countries in the Low Carbon Transition

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.

$57 Trillion Additional Climate Debt Calls for Policy Action by G20

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.

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