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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.
There’s a lot to like about the climate pledges that nearly 150 countries have now submitted to the United Nations in advance of the climate summit in Paris in December. I’ve grouped them into seven storylines that I think deserve attention.
When Jimmy Carter announced last month that he has been diagnosed with brain cancer, the 90-year-old former president stated that it is his dying wish to see the last guinea worm die before he does. He may well get his wish. When the last guinea worm dies, it will be just the third disease humans have eradicated.
Unless the world acts to reduce deforestation, an area the size of India will be cleared by 2050. That is the stark finding of a new CGD paper by Jonah Busch and Jens Engleman. The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by that level of destruction is equivalent to “running 44,000 American coal-fired power plants for a year,” says Busch in this CGD Podcast.
WASHINGTON – The Center for Global Development (CGD) released a working paper today showing that tropical forests – whose preservation is thought to be one of the quickest, most affordable way to mitigate climate change – will disappear faster than we thought.
If the world doesn’t act:
By 2050, an area of tropical forest the size of India will have been cleared – 289 million hectares, or roughly one-third the size of the United States.
By 2050, we’ll burn through one-sixth of our remaining carbon budget – the amount of emissions we have left in order to keep global temperature rise below 2° Celsius, thus avoiding dangerous climate change, according to the UN.
Using the most sophisticated satellite imagery available to study tropical forest data from more than 100 countries, CGD research fellow and environmental economist Jonah Busch and research associate Jens Engelmann have projected a pattern of deforestation more dire than previous research suggested. Their findings show emissions from deforestation will climb steadily through the 2020s and 2030s before accelerating around 2040.
Much of the devastation the research predicts can be avoided if the world puts a price on carbon, either through taxes, payments for emissions reductions or a combination of both.
VIDEO: Jonah Busch Explains Carbon Pricing
Three ways the world can act:
International carbon payments. If rich countries pay tropical countries for keeping forests standing, rich countries fight climate change more cheaply while tropical countries receive a new, green source of income that could be used to alleviate poverty.
Carbon prices. If developing countries introduce a price of $20-per-ton of carbon dioxide on deforestation, emissions would drop by more than 20 percent by 2020; a $50-per-ton price would cut emissions nearly in half by 2050.
Restrictive policies on deforestation. If developing countries introduce restrictive policies on deforestation backed by satellite monitoring and law enforcement, they can have a drastic impact on emissions (Brazil imposed restrictions on deforestation in the Amazon, and as a result, deforestation fell by 80% within a decade while soy and cattle production rose).
“Conserving tropical forests is a bargain,” explained Busch. “Reducing emissions from tropical deforestation costs about a fifth as much as reducing emissions in the European Union.”
"The Paris climate agreement needs to provide funding and other resources to stop tropical deforestation,” said Engelmann. “A climate agreement without robust action on forests will simply not be enough."
About the Center for Global Development
CGD works to reduce global poverty and inequality through rigorous research and active engagement with the policy community to make the world a more prosperous, just, and safe place for all people. As an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit think tank, focused on improving the policies and practices of the rich and powerful, the Center combines world-class scholarly research with policy analysis and innovative outreach and communications to turn ideas into action. Learn more at www.cgdev.org.
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.
A Conference Co-Hosted by the Center for Global Development (CGD), the Korean Development Institute (KDI), and the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)
Mobilizing and allocating finance to address the global public goods dimensions of climate change—both emissions reductions and resilience—is one of the great policy challenges of our age. Within the development and climate finance policy communities, most of the attention has focused, understandably, on how to raise the hundreds of billions of dollars that will be needed. After all, if you can’t raise it you can’t spend it. However, one major obstacle in mobilizing climate finance has been a lack of consensus on how new public climate money would be best spent.
The October 9th, 2013, conference, “How to Spend It (If We Had It): Priorities for Allocating International Climate Change Finance” jointly organized by Center for Global Development, the Korean Development Institute (KDI), and the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), will showcase perspectives from technical experts and policymakers on how to make the best use of international public climate finance. This day-long conference is designed to provide potential solutions to address challenges such as evaluating criteria for country allocations, identifying priorities among sectors and approaches, establishing effective disbursement mechanisms, and exploring innovative financing techniques that can successfully leverage public funds for climate change finance.
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.
This paper presents an overview of the state of measurement and monitoring capabilities for forests in the context of REDD+ needs, with a focus on what is currently possible, where improvements are needed, and what capabilities will be advanced in the near-term with new technologies already under development.
Here at the Center for Global Development we’re concerned with how the practices of rich countries affect developing countries. So with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff visiting President Obama this week, it’s a natural time to ask, who gets invited to White House State Dinners and who gets left out in the cold? It turns out that Europe and Latin America get wined and dined, while Sub-Saharan Africa has gotten snubbed. So, for that matter, has Southeast Asia.
More electricity. Fewer cases of diarrhea. Fewer lives lost to deadly storms. These are among the objectives of the development planners and financiers meeting next week in Washington at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s annual meetings.