With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
Jonah Busch is a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development. He is an environmental economist whose research focuses on climate change and tropical deforestation.
Busch is the co-author of Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change (Frances Seymour and Jonah Busch, Center for Global Development, December 2016). He is the lead developer of the OSIRIS model for analyzing and designing policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. His research on climate and forests has been published 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 has also published on the economics of penguins, pandas, and surfers. He serves on the editorial board of Conservation Letters.
Busch has advised on climate and forests for the President of Guyana, the governments of Norway, Indonesia, Bolivia, Suriname, Colombia, the United Kingdom, and California, the Global Environment Facility, and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. He is a research fellow at the Center for Effective Global Action at the University of California, Berkeley and a visiting scholar at the College of Environmental and Resource Sciences of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.
Prior to joining CGD Busch was the Climate and Forest Economist at Conservation International. Previously he served in the Peace Corps (Burkina Faso, ‘00-‘02) as a high school math teacher. He speaks French, Spanish, Indonesian, Mooré, and Chinese with varying degrees of proficiency and has traveled in more than sixty-five countries.
President Elect Donald Trump committed his first major personnel act on climate Wednesday, picking Scott Pruitt—Oklahoma Attorney General, climate change denier, and oil industry ally—to head the Environmental Protection Agency. If Pruitt is confirmed to the position, he will be responsible for looking out for not just for narrow oil interests, but all Americans. Maybe he’ll be persuaded to take a more forward-looking stance on climate by the Americans already suffering from sea level rise in Alaska, Florida, and Louisiana. But if that doesn’t concern him, perhaps the United States losing international goodwill and influence to an ascendant China will.
In uncertain political times, the world needs solutions that enjoy broad-based support. Drawing on more than 20 research papers commissioned over two years, Why Forests? Why Now? demonstrates the disproportionate impact tropical forests can have on climate change mitigation, how the livelihoods of millions of poor people around the world depend on the services they provide, and how consensus has been reached on a framework for international cooperation to conserve them.
Climate change threatens the world’s poorest people most. They are least protected from climate-related disasters by savings or insurance, least able to access modern health care when diseases spread, and least able to move to safer locations when storms rage. Preventing dangerous climate change is critical for promoting global development. And saving tropical forests is essential to doing both.
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.
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.
India just did something big for the climate: it announced that it will allocate $6 billion a year in tax revenue in a way that will encourage forest conservation. That’s more results-based finance for forest conservation than any other country in the world, including the current biggest spender Norway.
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.
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.