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Views from the Center

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Bali: Disaster Loomed and Everyone Blinked. Now Let's Get Serious, Fast

The White House finally blinked in the final hours of the UN's Bali Conference on Climate Change. The catalyst may have been the unprecedented boos and hisses directed at the US delegation from the floor, or the peremptory challenge from Kevin Conrad, Papua New Guinea's representative: "If for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please, get out of the way." Confronted by the prospect of pariah status, the US dropped its categorical resistance to emissions reduction targets and permitted their inclusion in a footnote to the final agreement.

Down and Out in Bali: U.N. Climate Change Negotiations So Far Lack Urgency

I'm in one of the world's most beautiful places, and I am seriously bummed. Few people had much in the way of expectations for the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bali -- its purpose is to simply set the terms for negotiations over the next two years -- but I had retained a modicum of hope. I was especially hopeful that, in light of the IPCC's synthesis report and mountains of observational evidence of rapidly changing climate, we would see a new sense of urgency in the talks.

Is Google The Solution To Africa's Energy Needs?

The search engine giant Google (google.com) announced yesterday that it will spend $500 million (or 3 percent of its cash holdings) on developing inexpensive energy alternatives to coal. The goal is to lower the costs of solar, geothermal and wind energy to produce 1 gigawatt of energy at costs that are lower than coal. Google says that it aims to accomplish this task in 10 years and is optimistic that it will take even less time than that.

2007 Commitment to Development Index Announced

Hello from London, where, at a Parliamentary building across the street from Big Ben, CGD today released the 2007 edition of the Commitment to Development Index. The event was organized by the U.K. Department for International Development, the All Parliamentary Group on Overseas Development, and the Overseas Development Institute. Each year the CDI ranks 21 rich countries on how much their policies help or hurt developing countries.

Take Off the Handcuffs: A Simple Prescription for Fixing the World Bank

"The World Bank," a colleague once told me, "is less than the sum of its parts." And other colleagues always grinned and agreed when I cited him during my seventeen years at the Bank. They all immediately recognized what no one officially admits: the Bank underperforms because it constantly degrades its most precious resources -- the energy, skills and creativity of the people who work there.

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