Ideas to Action:

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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.

 

Where There Is No Vision, the People Will Refuse to Perish--But Do-Nothing Institutions Very Well Might

It's been a busy year for citizen action on carbon emissions. On September 11, a UK jury considered charges against six Greenpeace activists who tried to shut down the Kingsnorth power station in Kent, UK. Kingsnorth emits 12.8 million tons of CO2 annually -- among the top 150 of over 50,000 plants worldwide in our CARMA database. It will vault much higher in the rankings after its planned expansion increases its emissions to 24.8 million tons.

Poznan Redux: The True Climate Cost

This is a joint posting with Kevin Ummel
Q: What can we do to save the earth?
Wendell Berry: "Stay put."
Economists are always irritating their colleagues by harping about opportunity cost, but the concept can be useful nonetheless. For example, consider the “carbon account” announced for the Poznan climate change meeting. According to the sponsors, travel and other logistics for the 8,000 conference participants will generate 13,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Participants have duly announced the purchase of “carbon offsets” as atonement for their logistical sins (which begins to sound like the sale of indulgences by the medieval Church, but that’s another story). The whole thing projects a reassuring aura: By purchasing offsets, the participants can cover the “climate cost” of the meeting.

Poznan, Hot Air, and Carbon Offsets

"I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to sit still in a room."
-- Blaise Pascal
Q: What can we do to save the earth?
Wendell Berry: "Stay put."

Hard Times Call for Hard Data: India and UK Will Work Together to Respond

Amidst the profound concerns about a lengthy economic downturn (or worse), public officials are taking measures to improve the effectiveness of public dollars -- or public rupees, as the case may be.
Here in the United States, President-elect Obama has stated that he'll look for ways to offset the cost of a proposed second stimulus package by cutting wasteful government programs. That same spirit is being felt in India.

Obama and House Committee Shake-Up Signal Sea Change in U.S. Climate Policy

This is a joint posting with Joel Meister
Recent announcements of climate-related transition teams and agency director appointments have provided a wealth of information about the prospects for action on climate change by the Obama White House. Bolstered by changes in the leadership of a crucial House committee, the energy and climate change agenda is likely to be a top legislative priority for the new administration. These changes also suggest that climate policies will affect the strategy for economic recovery, as well as a reorientation of US foreign assistance toward climate-sensitive policies that will yield significant benefits for poor people in developing countries.

In the Midst of the Financial Crisis, an Opportunity for Innovative Financing for Development - Cash on Delivery Aid

This is a joint posting with Ayah Mahgoub

This week, from November 29th through December 2nd, heads of government and multi-lateral institutions as well as representatives from business, and civil society will convene to evaluate the progress that has been made since world leaders met in Monterrey in 2002 to develop a plan to confront the challenges of international financing for development. Almost seven years later, some progress has been made towards fulfilling the commitments made there, but much is left to be done. In Monterrey, leaders made commitments to mobilize domestic and international resources, increase financial and technical cooperation, improve international trade, and address issues surrounding external debt and systemic challenges to financing international development.

Bail, Baby, Bail: What General Motors can Teach us about Policy Distortions

This is a joint posting with David Wheeler and Robin Kraft

When countries in Latin America or Africa descend into crisis, economists in Washington take a harsh view. Governments are forced to reduce spending in return for IMF rescue packages and in some instances, countries are even put on a cash-only budget. In the United States, we have a very different approach designed to minimize hardship of any kind -- the bailout.

Dear Mr. President-Elect, Some Early Steps to Begin Elevating Development

This is a joint posting with Sheila Herrling
This week the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, a fast-growing bipartisan coalition of international development and foreign policy leaders that I am privileged to co-chair, will be sending to the Presidential Transition Team its recommendations for jump-starting the process of strengthening our development programs. A growing number of voices agree that now more than ever, we must substantially bolster our capabilities to fight poverty and create economic opportunities around the world, both through increasing our investments over time and by making these investments much more efficient and effective. Strengthening these programs may well be one of the best investments we can make over the long term to restore global stability, security and prosperity.

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