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Climate change and development are closely intertwined. Poor people in developing countries will feel the impacts first and worst (and already are) because of vulnerable geography and lesser ability to cope with damage from severe weather and rising sea levels. In short, climate change will be awful for everyone but catastrophic for the poor.
Preventing dangerous climate change is critical for promoting global development. And saving tropical forests is essential to doing both. Frances Seymour and Jonah Busch's new book, Why Forests? Why Now?, illustrates how today—more than ever—saving forests is more feasible, affordable, and urgent.
Historically, the responsibility for climate change, though, rested with the rich countries that emitted greenhouse gases unimpeded from the Industrial Revolution on — and become rich by doing so. Now, some of the most quickly developing countries have become major emitter themselves just as all countries are compelled by the common good to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A major challenge of reaching a global deal on climate change was to find a way for poor countries to continue developing under the planetary carbon limits that rich countries have already pushed too far. That will involve scaling up finance to deploy clean technologies, to adapt to the effects of climate change, and to compensate countries that provide the global public good of reducing emissions, especially by reducing tropical deforestation.
CGD’s research and policy engagement on climate and development has had two aims: to strengthen the intellectual foundation for a viable international accord to come out of the COP 21 in Paris and to provide data, research, and analysis that policymakers and others can act upon even in the absence of an international agreement.
In this working paper CGD research fellow David Roodman explains how the four biggest developing countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China, a group Goldman Sachs dubbed the "BRICs" -- stack up to their rich-country counterparts on the environment component of the annual Commitment to Development Index (CDI). He finds they generally perform well on greenhouse gas emissions, consumption of ozone-depleting substances, and tropical timber imports. Major weaknesses include low gas taxes, Amazon deforestation and heavy fossil fuel use.
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.
On Wednesday, September 12, Center for Global Development and the Peterson Institute for International Economics released William Cline's new book, Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates by Country. C. Fred Bergsten, Director of the Peterson Institute, and Nancy Birdsall, President of CGD, co-hosted the lunch event with Jonathan Lash, President of World Resources Institute, providing remarks.
This CGD Brief, based on Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates by Country, by senior fellow William Cline, explores the implications of global warming for world agriculture, with special attention to China, India, Brazil, and the poor countries of the tropical belt in Africa and Latin America. The brief shows that the long-term effects on world agriculture will be substantially negative: India could see a drop in agricultural productivity of 30 to 40 percent; China's south central region would be in jeopardy; and the United States may see reductions of 25 to 35 percent in the southeast and the southwestern plains.