The World Bank should be ambitious in working toward clean energy approaches in its development strategies, but it would be a mistake to definitively rule out coal in all circumstances. Such a decision would be bad for development and would also undermine the very goals that the bank’s coal critics espouse by further pitting developing and developed countries against each other in the climate debate occurring within the bank. The key challenges are to identify the relevant development needs related to coal-fired generation, to define the role of the bank, and to elaborate guidelines to direct decisions. In this essay, we discuss the broad issues and then summarize what the guidelines likely would mean in practice.
Climate negotiations have focused on reaching a top-down international agreement and on mobilizing a pool of financial resources. This brief explains the urgent need for a new entity to provide nonfinancial services to faciliate and augment climate action that any nations and private actors take. It explores one possible path for filling the gap: the creation of a new arm of the World Bank.
Nancy Birdsall discusses the future role of the World Bank in addressing global commons problems, using the example of climate management and financing to set out the principal-agent problem facing the global development and climate communities.
William Savedoff looks at the long history of global multipolarity and forecasts what recent geopolitical changes mean for the future of international cooperation.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a revolutionary change in the world's energy mix. So why is the World Bank conducting business as usual? This new working paper by CGD senior fellow David Wheeler focuses on the bank's latest proposed venture, a huge coal-fired plant to be fueled by the Mmamabula coal field in Botswana. Using current cost estimates for coal-fired and low-carbon electricity, Wheeler calculates that a CO2 accounting charge of only about $35 per ton would be enough to make solar power competitive with coal. The difference, he argues, could easily be covered by the bank's Clean Technology Fund and other sources. He urges the bank to quickly adopt an explicit carbon accounting charge for all energy projects and says that given the current scientific consensus it would be very surprising if this is below $50/ton of CO2.
This CGD brief summarizes the results of the 2007 Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks 21 of the world's richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit the five billion people living in poorer nations. The Netherlands comes in first on the 2007 CDI on the strength of ample aid-giving, falling greenhouse gas emissions, and support for investment in developing countries. Close behind are three more big aid donors: Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.