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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Oxfam America: Poor Countries Should Get to Sell the Remaining Fossil Fuels

Reducing fossil fuel emissions to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or less means that a huge amount of proven fossil fuel reserves will need to stay in the ground.  A new Oxfam America Research Backgrounder by Professor Simon Caney of Oxford rightly proposes that, in considering which assets will be “stranded” (left in the ground), priority for extracting these fossil fuels should somehow be given to the poorest countries/people. But while poor countries should get priority when it comes to selling fossil fuels, when it comes to using them, they should be viewed as an energy source of last resort, after alternatives have been seriously explored.

World Leaders Signed the Climate Agreement On Earth Day. How Will They Deliver?

This Earth Day, more than sixty heads of state will gather in New York to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change. The agreement declared in December the unanimous aim of 196 governments to work toward the near-elimination of greenhouse gas emissions by the second half of this century. Although the New York ceremony represents another high-profile sign of political support for stabilizing Earth’s climate, significant challenges remain.

Will SCOTUS Ruling on EPA’s Clean Power Plan Derail Paris Agreement?

Last Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court decided, by a 5 to 4 vote, to allow states to temporarily stop preparing to implement the Obama administration's signature regulation for cutting greenhouse gas emissions until a series of lawsuits against the rules have been decided.  This casts uncertainty on climate policy actions both in the U.S. and internationally, as many developing countries are only willing to take climate action if the US shows leadership.

El Niño vs El Tío: What’s Causing Food Insecurity in Southern Africa?

The UN’s World Food Program now estimates that some three million Zimbabweans, or roughly one-quarter of the population, may require food aid this year. Zimbabwe is suffering from erratic rainfall this year, blamed in large part on the El Niño weather phenomena. An estimated 70% of Zimbabweans rely on agriculture, so the impact on poverty and human welfare will no doubt be severe. But in reading about Zimbabwe’s current predicament, something struck me:  neighboring Zambia seems to have no urgent food aid requirements.

Making Paris Happen

Now that the ink on the Paris Agreement has dried and the champagne bottles have gone to be recycled it’s time to think about how the commitments of Paris will be achieved. The post-Paris press was almost giddy in its enthusiasm about the success of the Paris Agreement. Crafting an agreement on addressing climate change that 195 countries finally did sign took 21 years and is indeed an extraordinary accomplishment. However, despite the euphoria, the commitments themselves are voluntary and only go about half way to keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Corporate Leadership in 2016: Intimidation Out, Engagement In

Last week marked the transition from commitments to compliance for a number of companies that have pledged to get deforestation out of their supply chains.  Wilmar International, the world’s largest trader of palm oil, set a December 31, 2015 deadline for suppliers to adhere to its path-breaking “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation” policy. December 31st was also Jim Bob Moffett’s last day at work as the chairman of Freeport-McMoRan, the company that developed one of the world’s largest copper and gold mines in eastern Indonesia. The coincidence of these milestones leads me to reflect on the changing norms of corporate leadership, and my brief interaction with Mr. Moffett 20 years ago.

Saving Forests in Paris: Breakthrough for REDD+?

The historic UN “Paris Agreement” achieved by climate change negotiators highlighted the importance of conserving forests and laid the groundwork for future global carbon markets to finance emissions reductions from tropical forest countries.  But a full-fledged carbon market-based mechanism to protect forests and reduce rampant deforestation is still years down the road.  In the meantime, reducing emissions from deforestation will continue to depend on a medley of public and private financing appr

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