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Jonah Busch, a former Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, worked at CGD from 2013-2018 on the science, economics, and politics of tropical forests and climate change. In 2018 he joined Earth Innovation Institute as Chief Economist.
Dr. Busch has published more than twenty articles on climate, forests, and biodiversity in academic journals including Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Land Economics, and Environmental Research Letters. He is the co-author of the book Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change. He has also published on the economics of penguins, pandas, and surfers.
Busch has advised on the design of climate and forest finance mechanisms for governments and institutions including the President of Guyana, the governments of Indonesia, Norway, Bolivia, and California, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Global Environment Facility, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, and Green Climate Fund. He serves on the editorial board of Conservation Letters and the advisory board for Carbon180.
Busch has been a lecturer (adjunct professor) at Columbia University's Earth Institute; a visiting scholar at Zhejiang University and University of California-Berkeley; Climate and Forest Economist at Conservation International; and a high school math teacher in the Peace Corps (Burkina Faso, ‘00-‘02). He speaks French, Spanish, Indonesian, Mooré, and Mandarin Chinese with varying degrees of proficiency and has traveled in more than seventy-five countries.
I love trees. Always have. As a kid I loved climbing them. As an adult I enjoy watching the wildlife that lives in them. And now as a Washington, DC-based policy wonk, I appreciate how the carbon that trees sequester from the atmosphere protects us from climate change and its regressive effects.
The newly released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, "Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change,” describes the actions that people will need to take if we are to maintain a safe and stable global climate. Like the two previous IPCC reports (which I have written about here and here), it is based on the collective volunteer work of dozens of top scientists and economists synthesizing the findings of thousands of peer-reviewed articles.
Forests provide a wealth of public services and private goods, yet forested land is being steadily converted to other uses, including cropland, pasture, mining, and urban areas, which can generate greater private economic returns. Public concern over the benefits of forests lost due to deforestation has led to a variety of deliberate policies intended to slow the rate of deforestation. These efforts benefit from research to understand what factors drive deforestation and what policies can effectively stop it.
In 2009, Guyana created a Low Carbon Development Strategy to develop economically while keeping its entire forest intact, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Norway to receive performance-based payments in the tens of millions of dollars annually contingent upon holding nationwide deforestation to a near-zero rate. In mid-February, 2014, we visited Guyana as part of a three-country study to attempt to gain insights of value to the future expansion of performance-based payments in other countries and other sectors.
What if international development finance paid for outcomes, like children educated or diseases avoided, rather than inputs like classrooms built or medicines procured? That’s the premise of CGD’s longstanding work on Cash-on-Delivery Aid. By paying only for the verified progress on measured outcomes, donors are assured of value for money, and recipients have the flexibility and incentive to innovate. This idea is taking hold in education, health, and other sectors.
Please take a moment to read the newly released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability." It's a frightening look at the future of our planet, based on the collective volunteer work of dozens of top scientists across fields synthesizing the findings of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific articles.