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.


Godot Actually Made It To Copenhagen … and Nothing Happened. Now What?

In the wake of the shambles at Copenhagen, we could do worse than contemplate Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The two characters converse endlessly and anxiously, while they wait for the mysterious Godot to arrive and secure their enlightenment. But Godot never shows up, even though he keeps sending word that he will.

Pathetic Outcome in Copenhagen

Right – it’s an “agreement”… to punt down the field for some transient face-saving. Obama said he had to fly back to Washington early because of the weather (riiiight ….). These guys have signally failed us. The Americans failed on emissions reductions. The Chinese failed on transparency. Plenty of credit to go around, as it turns out. But the problem doesn’t go away, and efforts to find solutions outside of the failed negotiating framework now become more crucial and urgent than ever.

Copenhagen: Why China is Mostly Right

China recently announced it will reduce the emissions-intensity of its economy (ratio of emissions to GDP) by at least 40-45 percent by 2020. But in Copenhagen it is resisting making that promise an internationally binding commitment. That’s a big problem for the U.S. negotiators, since the Congress is adamant: the U.S. will not commit until and unless the Chinese do too.

Beyond Copenhagen: Making Forest Conservation Credible

This is a joint posting with Dan Hammer.

The climate negotiations in Copenhagen have galvanized the climate evangelists and skeptics alike; the talks, some say, are merely a front to assuage the general public, and will only divert attention from the scientific imperative to curb global carbon emissions. But one benefit of the talks has already been realized: They have catalyzed a flurry of activity, especially in the domain of monitoring and evaluation. Last week in Copenhagen, announced that it will provide free access to raw satellite imagery to facilitate global monitoring of deforestation, which may account for 15% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, has partnered with two leading forest scientists to host their image-parsing algorithms online, so that experts in developing countries can produce more accurate maps of forest cover loss from satellite images.

A Wish List for The G8 Summit

The G8 leaders gathering in L’Aquila, Italy for their annual summit have an opportunity to help developing countries escape the worst impacts of the financial downturn. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s ambitious agenda for the meeting outlines a list of priorities that directly affect short- and long-term development in these countries. The agenda includes climate change, development in Africa, dialogue with developing countries, and the Millennium Goals.


Views From The Center Blog