Fri. July 11, 2014 Get Published  Get Alerts
HOME  |LOGIN
ABOUT | CONTACT US | SUPPORT US
Climate Smart Aid Is Anything But

Comments(0)
By William Yeatman

International organizations like the World Bank and the United Nations are supposed to help the world’s poor escape poverty, but fully convinced they are doing good, these development agencies are pushing an anti-development agenda.

Now here’s an inconvenient truth: curbing the planet’s carbon footprint necessarily slows economic growth, the primary engine of human well-fare. International aid organizations need to carefully consider the impact of the climate “solutions” they advocate, lest they do more harm than good.

The International Energy Agency estimates that it would cost $45 trillion through 2050 to mitigate global warming through efforts aimed at “greening” the global economy. Most of that would be spent in developing countries, to prevent them from fueling their growing economies with hydrocarbon energy sources like coal and oil. These fossil fuels are cheap and still plentiful, but burning them to create energy frees the CO² they store, contributing to climate change.

Raising hundreds of billions of dollars a year to finance a global green energy revolution is a key component of current negotiations for a successor climate treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas recently declared, “No money, no deal.” And clean energy aid was a topic of discussion at last month’s Major Economies Meeting, hosted by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

Naturally, international aid agencies are jockeying for position to broker this wealth transfer.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that his organization is the “natural arena” for coordinated international action on climate change. To that end the U.N. operates two programs to facilitate the flow of climate mitigation aid to developing countries—the Global Environment Facility and the Clean Development Mechanism.

Not to be outdone, the World Bank recently unveiled a “Strategic Framework” for global warming and development that calls for “unprecedented global cooperation” for the “transfer of finance and technology from developed to developing countries.” The Bank established a Carbon Finance Unit and several Carbon Investment Funds to distribute climate change mitigation aid.

Besides the inefficiencies inherent to duplicative bureaucracies, there are major problems with this “climate smart” approach to development. For starters, it is unlikely that Western bureaucrats can create a green energy infrastructure in developing countries. The history of development assistance is littered with abandoned projects backed by the best of intentions. Already there is evidence that climate aid is more of the same.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, for example, companies subject to climate regulations can meet their carbon “cap” by paying for emissions reduction projects in developing countries. According to the journal Nature, the U.N. certified $6 billions’ worth of emissions “savings” for reductions in HFC-23, a potent greenhouse gas. Yet removing the HFC-23 cost $130 million. That’s a lot of waste.

There are also ethical considerations. A coal-fired power plant may offend environmentalist sensibilities, but it would be a blessing for the almost 2 billion people in the world today who use charcoal, dung, and wood to heat and cook.

In his book, Global Crises, Global Solutions, Danish statistician Bjørn Lomborg persuasively argues that humanity faces many problems that are more pressing than warming decades down the road. After all, what good is a slightly cooler planet a century from now to a child dying of malaria today? In terms of saving lives, Lomborg shows why climate change mitigation is an inferior, albeit far less ‘sexy’, investment to water sanitation and halting disease.

Aid agencies should also consider forgone economic development. The U.N. and the World Bank want to redistribute trillions of dollars to create new green energy infrastructure whereas in the free market these scarce resources would be allocated to create wealth. In a globalized world, inefficiencies of this magnitude lower the tide and all boats with it.

Slowing economic growth has very real human consequences, such as fewer schools, worse health care, and lower environmental quality. That’s why a richer-but-warmer future is better for human well being than a poorer-but-cooler future, according to Indur Goklany, author of The Improving State of the World.

Instead of economically harmful global warming policies, development agencies should concentrate their considerable institutional knowledge on advancing pro-growth policies, like trade liberalization. Today, free trade needs an influential booster like the World Bank. Energy intensive export industries in developing countries are threatened by carbon taxes imposed by rich countries, under the pretext of fighting climate change. Retaliatory tariffs would be likely, which could easily escalate into a global trade war.

That would be a tragedy. By allowing developing countries to use their comparative advantage—inexpensive labor—international free trade has proven the fastest route out of poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

To avoid giving atmospheric chemistry priority over human welfare, the aid industry should ensure that the risks of global warming policies are considered as rigorously as the risks of global warming itself.


William Yeatman is an energy policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.




Comments in Chronological order (0 total comments)

Report Abuse
Quick Links Twitter Face Book Get Alerts Contact Us Enter Ia-Forum Student Award Competition
International Affairs
Forum - Fall 2013

BRIC Countries and Social Media
Available Now
ANNOUNCEMENTS
THE WORLD'S DISCUSSING...
07/29/2014: National Security and Climate Change: What Do We Need to Know? More
07/16/2014: Citizens, Subjects, and Slackers: Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian Attitudes Toward Paying Taxes More
07/15/2014: A New Agenda for a New Ukraine: Political, Security, and Social Dimensions More
07/10/2014: Leveling the Transnational Playing Field More
07/09/2014: CGD Event: Girl Summit DC 2014 More
07/09/2014: Development blog: The Elusive Quest for Women's Land Rights More
07/09/2014: World Economic Forum Report on Mega-regional Trade Agreements More
07/09/2014: Global Challenges in a Nuclear Armed World More
07/09/2014: Get Bosses Out of Health Insurance Altogether More
07/09/2014: Iran Headlines: Afghan Presidential Election, Drafting the Agreement Text in Vienna, and Divorce More
07/09/2014: Iran Headlines: Afghan Presidential Election, Drafting the Agreement Text in Vienna, and Divorce More
07/09/2014: Event: Mega-regional Trade Agreements: Game-Changers or Costly Distractions for the World Trading System? More
07/09/2014: World Economic Forum Report on Mega-regional Trade Agreements More
07/09/2014: Eric Olson on the Influx of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children More
07/09/2014: Design Matters: The Future of School Choice More
07/09/2014: A Step Forward for Chinese Local Government Debt More
07/09/2014: A Critical Moment in Afghanistan's History More
07/09/2014: A Worrying Trend With No Quick Fix More
07/09/2014: A Transoceanic Canal for Nicaragua? More
07/09/2014: A Transoceanic Canal for Nicaragua? More
07/09/2014: A Transoceanic Canal for Nicaragua? More
07/09/2014: Three Tips for the High Commissioner for Human Rights More
07/09/2014: Three Tips for the High Commissioner for Human Rights More
07/09/2014: Why Washington Needs a New North Korea Strategy More
07/09/2014: Obama and the Syria Two-Step More
07/09/2014: A Real Fix for Credit Ratings More
07/09/2014: The Right Way to Partition Iraq (If Necessary) More
07/09/2014: Political Reform in China: Elections, Public Goods, and Income Distribution More
07/09/2014: Unaccompanied Minors and Unintended Consequences More
07/09/2014: Modi Should End His Honeymoon More
07/09/2014: Dangers to U.S. Liberties We Missed on July 4 More
07/08/2014: NAFTA 20 Years Later: Setting the Record Straight More
07/08/2014: Teleconference—China’s Broadening Footprint in Latin America: From Beijing to Buenos Aires More
07/08/2014: Russia Opens a Eurasian Pandora's Box More
07/08/2014: Iran Headlines: Silence in Vienna, Calls for Impeachment, and Kuwait More
07/08/2014: Former Scholar Kalyani Shankar Discusses Her Book Pandora's Daughters More
07/08/2014: Kyiv’s Atrocities? A More Nuanced Look at the Ukraine Crisis More
07/08/2014: Development blog: Mega-Regional Trade Agreements: Boon or Bane for Developing Countries? More
07/08/2014: Getting it Right in Afghanistan More
07/08/2014: Development blog: Volvo Standards and Transformational Infrastructure: Lessons for the Old and New Development Banks. More
07/08/2014: Remembering Eduard Shevardnadze More
07/08/2014: Working Paper 14-2: Labor Market Slack in the United Kingdom [pdf] More
07/08/2014: What We Won: America's Secret War In Afghanistan, 1979-1989 More
07/08/2014: What We Won: America's Secret War In Afghanistan, 1979-1989 More
07/08/2014: Acting Out Gentrification: Theater as Community Engagement More
07/08/2014: How Obama Can Fix Immigration without Congress More
07/08/2014: Global Prosperity Wonkcast: Africa's Data Revolution – Amanda Glassman More
07/08/2014: Stopping Distance: What Every 16-Year-Old Knows about Climate Change More
07/08/2014: Drug Cartels Are Causing a Refugee Crisis More
07/08/2014: Unaccompanied Minors and Unintended Consequences More
More...
About | Contact Us | Support Us | Terms and Conditions

All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2002 - 2014