Thu. December 18, 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 - (2014 Issue 1)

Available Now
ANNOUNCEMENTS
THE WORLD'S DISCUSSING...
01/15/2015: CRIME AND VIOLENCE IN CENTRAL AMERICA’S NORTHERN TRIANGLE: How U.S. Policy Responses are Helping, Hurting, and Can be Improved More
01/01/2015: Analysis of President Obama’s announcement regarding the release of Alan Gross and the future of U.S.-Cuba relations More
12/19/2014: Georgia’s Foreign Policy Priorities More
12/17/2014: Seminario sobre las políticas de seguridad ciudadana de Latinoamérica More
12/17/2014: State Department official: Real improvement in regional security requires ‘new approach’ More
12/17/2014: U.S.-Cuba to resume diplomatic relations More
12/17/2014: Brasil exhausto: la parálisis impone una reforma More
12/17/2014: "Political Insults: How Offenses Escalate Conflict" More
12/17/2014: Echoes of 1992: The NAFTA Negotiations and North America Now More
12/17/2014: Around the Halls: Brookings Scholars React to the Fall of the Ruble More
12/17/2014: Rapid Growth in Emerging Markets and Developing Economies: Now and Forever? [pdf] More
12/17/2014: Development blog: Call for Papers: 8th International Conference on Migration and Development More
12/17/2014: China Rebalancing Update – Q3 2014 More
12/17/2014: Locating Social Entrepreneurship in the Global South: Innovations in Development Aid More
12/17/2014: Resource Media: Starting to break the “green ceiling” More
12/17/2014: Economic Crisis in Russia More
12/17/2014: Economic Crisis in Russia More
12/17/2014: Rose Gottemoeller: U.S. Commitment to Peace and Security of a World without Nuclear Weapons Is Unassailable More
12/17/2014: Rose Gottemoeller: U.S. Commitment to Peace and Security of a World without Nuclear Weapons Is Unassailable More
12/17/2014: Rose Gottemoeller: U.S. Commitment to Peace and Security of a World without Nuclear Weapons Is Unassailable More
12/17/2014: Coping with Budget Uncertainty: Gleanings from a Hutchins Center Conference More
12/17/2014: Americans Have Taken Ownership of the CIA's Interrogation Program More
12/17/2014: Southern Company’s Attack on the Clean Power Plan: Some Important Unanswered Questions More
12/17/2014: The Court and Obamacare More
12/17/2014: The Evolution of Charter School Quality More
12/17/2014: There Is Only One Cure for What Plagues Russia More
12/17/2014: The Need for Quality Sexual and Reproductive Health Education to Address Barriers to Girls’ Educational Outcomes in South Africa More
12/17/2014: The Goal of Sanctions Shouldn't Be to Wreck Russia's Economy More
12/17/2014: When Will Court Trials Begin on CIA Torturers or Their Government Authorizers? More
12/17/2014: U.S. Nuclear Arms Control Policy: A Talk with Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller More
12/17/2014: U.S. Nuclear Arms Control Policy: A Talk with Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller More
12/17/2014: U.S. Nuclear Arms Control Policy: A Talk with Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller More
12/17/2014: The Future of Cyber Policy in China More
12/16/2014: Axel Weber: The Global Macroeconomic Outlook More
12/16/2014: Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz on 2015 Global Policy Outlook More
12/16/2014: Integrating North America's Energy Markets: A Call for Action More
12/16/2014: North America's Fossil Fuel Boom: More Risk for Water? More
12/16/2014: Second Annual High-Level Innovation Forum for Policymakers More
12/16/2014: MENA Women's News Brief More
12/16/2014: Development blog: Four Futures for International Tax Rules More
12/16/2014: Egypt’s Crackdown on Political Speech More
12/16/2014: PIIE Briefing 14-4: Lessons from Decades Lost: Economic Challenges and Opportunities Facing Japan and the United States [pdf] More
12/16/2014: Development blog: #Luxleaks: The Reality of Tax ‘Competition’ More
12/16/2014: The 2014 Cato Institute Surveillance Conference More
12/16/2014: After Lima: The Future of Sub-National Climate Governance More
12/16/2014: After Lima: The Future of Sub-National Climate Governance More
12/16/2014: Libertarian Internationalism More
12/16/2014: Fighting Poverty at Tax Time through the EITC More
12/16/2014: Shared Challenges and Cooperation for Korea, China and the U.S. More
12/16/2014: Shared Challenges and Cooperation for Korea, China and the U.S. More
More...
About | Contact Us | Support Us | Terms and Conditions

All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2002 - 2014