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Politicians and protesters in Washington today for the first Climate Crisis Action Day would do well to remember that global institutions have a potentially valuable role to play in addressing global warming.
There are signs that the top leadership at the World Bank may be catching on. Last Tuesday, according to the Financial Times, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, when asked in London whether he meant what he said about opening up the international market in ethanol, said yes: he was indeed calling on President Bush to reduce the U.S. tariff on ethanol that is slowing reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Ethanol is a renewable fuel produced quite efficiently from sugar cane and less efficiently from corn. U.S. corn producers have succeeded in keeping U.S. tariffs on ethanol high.
In June 2005 we called on President Wolfowitz to ask World Bank shareholders for a clear mandate and a financial instrument so that the Bank could adequately address global public goods. If ever there were a clear case of a global public good, an effective response to climate change is surely at or near the top of the list. Let's hope Mr. Wolfowitz's use of the bully pulpit is a first step in a more ambitious agenda.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.