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Climate change and development are closely intertwined. Poor people in developing countries will feel the impacts first and worst (and already are) because of vulnerable geography and lesser ability to cope with damage from severe weather and rising sea levels. In short, climate change will be awful for everyone but catastrophic for the poor.
Preventing dangerous climate change is critical for promoting global development. And saving tropical forests is essential to doing both. Frances Seymour and Jonah Busch's new book, Why Forests? Why Now?, illustrates how today—more than ever—saving forests is more feasible, affordable, and urgent.
Historically, the responsibility for climate change, though, rested with the rich countries that emitted greenhouse gases unimpeded from the Industrial Revolution on — and become rich by doing so. Now, some of the most quickly developing countries have become major emitter themselves just as all countries are compelled by the common good to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A major challenge of reaching a global deal on climate change was to find a way for poor countries to continue developing under the planetary carbon limits that rich countries have already pushed too far. That will involve scaling up finance to deploy clean technologies, to adapt to the effects of climate change, and to compensate countries that provide the global public good of reducing emissions, especially by reducing tropical deforestation.
CGD’s research and policy engagement on climate and development has had two aims: to strengthen the intellectual foundation for a viable international accord to come out of the COP 21 in Paris and to provide data, research, and analysis that policymakers and others can act upon even in the absence of an international agreement.
Protecting and restoring tropical forests represents one of the biggest, cheapest, and fastest ways to fight climate change, as Frances Seymour and I show in our book, Why Forests? Why Now? Yet climate conversations in rich countries remain heavily dominated by energy, while tropical forests often feel like climate’s best kept secret. On the International Day of Forests, here are five ways to make tropical forests a better known climate solution.
Unilever is the world’s single largest end-user of palm oil, purchasing nearly 3 percent of global palm oil production. Whilst we can not do everything alone , with this scale comes responsibility—to make sure that our supply chains are not driving tropical deforestation, and to tackle endemic social issues such as forced labour and the protection of indigenous people.
Over the last few years, an increasing number of companies that produce, trade, or buy “forest risk” commodities have pledged to get deforestation out of their supply chains. But voluntary efforts by progressive companies will not on their own be sufficient to end tropical deforestation. A “jurisdictional approach” that marries public and private efforts at the scale of political units offers a promising way forward.
The world’s elite—plus a few ringers like me—gathered last week in the small Swiss village of Davos to discuss the state of the world at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Although not formally on the agenda, the issue of tropical forests infiltrated a number of discussions. But first, a quick recap of the meeting’s big themes that provided the broader context.
A Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Congress may spell hard times for progressive climate action at a national and international level. But emerging economies are increasingly realizing their own stake in protecting their populations from climate change while also capitalizing on clean energy technology and manufacturing.
Last week, I had the privilege of sitting in on a conference on United States-Cuba relations in Havana that brought together experts on the politics of both countries. The conference was dominated by uncertainty over the future of bilateral ties under a Trump Administration. One of the many prospective casualties of a reversal in US policy toward Cuba would be cooperation on the environment.
In 2016 on the CGD Podcast, we have discussed some of development's biggest questions: How do we pay for development? How do we measure the sustainable development goals (SDGs)? What should we do about refugees and migrants? And is there life yet in the notion of globalism? The links to all the full podcasts featured and the work they reference are below, but in this edition, we bring you highlights of some of those conversations.
Tropical forests have the highest carbon density and cover more land area than forests in any other biome. They also serve a vital role as a natural buffer to climate change ―capturing 2.2–2.7 Gt of carbon per year.
The paper proposes a new narrative on climate equity that emphasize basic energy needs and the equality of access to energy opportunities rather than emissions. It advocates abandoning the setting of emissions targets and instead developing a framework where all countries contribute to maximizing technology creation and diffusion.
Just ahead of the annual World Bank/IMF spring meetings, the Bank’s new CEO, Kristalina Georgieva, spoke with me about a new way of thinking at the 72-year-old institution. The Bank has renewed ambition, she told me, to be a catalyst for massive transformative investment in development. She went on to lay out how the Bank plans to do that in this edition of the CGD Podcast.
The climate agreement from Paris is far-reaching in its implications. The countries of the world have just stated their collective aim for global greenhouse gas emissions
to peak as soon as possible, decline rapidly, and reach near-zero in the second half of the century. Two hundred governments have just sent a powerful
signal that the future they want is low-carbon: energy without fossil fuels; agriculture without deforestation.
As temperatures rise this century, massive tropical storm surges and growing populations may collide in disasters of unprecedented size. CGD senior fellow David Wheeler and co-authors explore the implications for 84 developing countries, providing new data for 577 cyclone-vulnerable coastal cities with populations greater than 100,000. Bottom line: carefully targeted international assistance will be essential to protect population centers.
Nancy Birdsall discusses the future role of the World Bank in addressing global commons problems, using the example of climate management and financing to set out the principal-agent problem facing the global development and climate communities.
Is it possible to alter national governments and global institutions so that decision makers can focus on the vitally important longer term challenges, while still dealing with the urgent considerations which crowd their daily agenda? That’s the important and difficult question set before the The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations. My guest on this week’s Wonkcast is Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School and the driving force behind the commission.