The Durban climate conference concluded last weekend with a successful last-ditch effort to salvage some notion of cooperation. The outcome would be quite nice if there were no particular urgency about taking action. As is, it seems to me we are making some progress, but there is no more denying that as a world community, we are letting slip the option to limit the risk of dangerous climate change to the levels previously deemed acceptable. We are, effectively, taking a bet that impacts will turn out to be at the low end of the predicted range. This is certainly a possible outcome
CGD Policy Blogs
A while ago, I blogged about the government of Colombia’s proposal for next year’s Rio + 20 Summit –that it should agree a set of “Sustainable Development Goals,” or SDGs for short. That blog raised the concern that having a set of SDGs agreed only three years before a new round of MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) might be a little confusing to… well... everyone.
In the latest in a surge of extreme weather events, a mid-November storm twice the size of Texas hammered the west coast of Alaska with hurricane-force winds. The storm pushed further north than low-pressure systems typically do this time of year, gaining energy as it passed over unusually warm water. Loss of coastal ice in recent decades left coastal villages exposed to the brunt of the waves. In Nome, tides rose to seven feet above normal bringing water to the base of some buildings.
Yesterday’s U.S. government decision to re-consider the proposal for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil from the Alberta tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico, opens the way for policymakers to include consideration of the climate and development impact of decision. Unfortunately, announcements of the decision suggest this is not necessarily part of the plan.
I participated in a conference in Oslo this week titled Energy for All. The subject of energy access is relatively new to me, except in the context of climate change where Arvind Subramanian and I have concluded that short of unprecedented technological breakthroughs in both energy efficiency and low-carbon generation to meet the needs of people currently lacking electricity, the planet is cooked.
President Obama is widely expected to approve this year the construction of a massive new oil pipeline from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to Texas refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting boost in the emissions of heat-trapping gases has been called the world’s biggest carbon bomb. India would be among its primary victims.
The latest edition of the World Bank’s Food Price Watch arrived in my inbox the other day and it was a helpful reminder that, while the world’s attention is focused on the Horn of Africa, there are still millions of people in other parts of the world who are at risk of going hungry or sinking back in to poverty because of high food prices.
As a child of the American South and Midwest, I have more than a passing acquaintance with fundamentalist Christian apocalyptics. So I was immediately struck by the resemblance when I read The Great Disruption, by Paul Gilding. His book has stirred considerable excitement in the environmental community, and has recently been lauded by Tom Friedman in a New York Times column. Its description of an imminent apocalypse is eerily similar to the Biblical