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  • Author: Alan Gelb, Anit Mukherjee
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Reforming inefficient and inequitable energy subsidies continues to be an important priority for policymakers as does instituting “green taxes” to reduce carbon emissions. Simply increasing energy prices will have adverse impact on poorer consumers, who may spend substantial budget shares on energy and energy-intensive products even though the rich typically appropriate more of the price subsidy. Equitable pricing reforms therefore need to be accompanied by programs to transfer compensation: depending on the situation, this can be targeted or universal. Successful reforms require measures to raise awareness-of the subsidies and the problems they cause, effective dissemination of the reform to the population, and rapid feedback loops to facilitate mid-course corrections. Digital technology, including for unique identification and payments, as well as general communications, can help build government capacity to undertake such reforms and respond to changes in fuel markets. The paper outlines the use of digital technology, drawing on four country cases. The technology is only a mechanism; it does not, in itself, create the political drive and constituency to push reform forward. However, it can be employed in a number of ways to increase the prospects for successful and sustainable reform.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Science and Technology, Reform, Digitalization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, India, Latin America
  • Author: Katrina Mullan
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper assesses the scale of the potential co-benefits for residents of developing countries of protecting forest ecosystems in order to mitigate climate change. The objective is to improve understanding among development practitioners of the ways in which services provided by forest ecosystems can also make important contributions to achieving development objectives such as improvements to health and safety, and maintenance of food and energy security. This is achieved by reviewing empirical studies that estimate the value of specific ecosystem services derived from forests in order to evaluate and describe the current state of knowledge on how the wellbeing of local people is likely to be affected by the introduction of global mechanisms for avoided deforestation in developing countries. There are four main ways in which wellbeing can be affected: 1) forests provide soil protection and water regulation services, which in turn reduce waterborne diseases, maintain irrigation water supply, and mitigate risks of natural disaster; 2) forests provide habitat for birds, fish, mammals and insects that affect human health and income generation opportunities; 3) clearing forest through use of fire can lead to respiratory illness and property damage, particularly if the fires spread accidentally; and 4) tropical forests are particularly high in biodiversity, making them important locally as well as globally as a potential source of genetic material for new crop varieties and pharmaceuticals. Evidence on the size of these benefits suggests that while they are highly variable, households in or near forests and poor households benefit most from forest ecosystem services.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources, Water, Food
  • Author: Kevin Ummel
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper describes the creation of a database providing estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) footprints for 6 million US households over the period 2008-2012. The database allows analysis of footprints for 52 types of consumption (e.g. electricity, gasoline, apparel, beef, air travel, etc.) within and across geographic regions as small as individual census tracts. Potential research applications with respect to carbon pricing and tax policy are discussed. Preliminary analysis reveals:
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Martin Persson, Sabine Henders, Thomas Kastner
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper aims to improve our understanding of how and where global supply-chains link consumers of agricultural and forest commodities across the world to forest destruction in tropical countries. A better understanding of these linkages can help inform and support the design of demand-side interventions to reduce tropical deforestation. To that end, we map the link between deforestation for four commodities (beef, soybeans, palm oil, and wood products) in eight case countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea) to consumption, through international trade. Although few, the studied countries comprise a large share of the internationally traded volumes of the analyzed commodities: 83% of beef and 99% of soybean exports from Latin America, 97% of global palm oil exports, and roughly half of (official) tropical wood products trade. The analysis covers the period 2000-2009. We find that roughly a third of tropical deforestation and associated carbon emissions (3.9 Mha and 1.7 GtCO2) in 2009 can be attributed to our four case commodities in our eight case countries. On average a third of analyzed deforestation was embodied in agricultural exports, mainly to the EU and China. However, in all countries but Bolivia and Brazil, export markets are dominant drivers of forest clearing for our case commodities. If one excludes Brazilian beef on average 57% of deforestation attributed to our case commodities was embodied in exports. The share of emissions that was embodied in exported commodities increased between 2000 and 2009 for every country in our study except Bolivia and Malaysia.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Malaysia, Brazil, Argentina, Latin America, Bolivia
  • Author: Rosa C. Goodman, Martin Herold
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Tropical forests have the highest carbon density and cover more land area than forests in any other biome. They also serve a vital role as a natural buffer to climate change ―capturing 2.2–2.7 Gt of carbon per year. Unfortunately, tropical forests, mangroves, and peatlands are also subjected to the highest levels of deforestation and account for nearly all net emissions from Forestry and Other Land Use (FOLU) (1.1–1.4 Gt C / year). Net emissions from FOLU accounted for only 11% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions or 14% of total carbon emissions in 2010, though these figures are somewhat misleading and do not reflect the full potential of tropical forests to mitigate climate change. First, net FOLU emissions have reduced only slightly while emissions from all other sectors have skyrocketed. Secondly, the FOLU net flux is made up of two larger fluxes —deforestation emissions (2.6–2.8 Gt C / year) minus sequestration from forest regrowth (1.2–1.7 Gt C / year). Additionally, intact tropical forests also appear to be capturing at least 1.0 Gt C/ year. Gross deforestation, therefore, accounts for over a quarter of all carbon emissions, and tropical forests have removed 22–26% of all anthropogenic carbon emissions in the 2000s. If deforestation were halted entirely, forests were allowed to regrow, and mature forests were left undisturbed, tropical forests alone could have captured 25–35% of all other anthropogenic carbon emissions. On the other hand, if climate change continues unabated, forests could turn from net sinks to net sources of carbon. Forestrelated activities are among the most economically feasible and cost-effective mitigation strategies, which are important for both short- and long-term mitigation strategies. Action is needed immediately to utilize these natural mitigation solutions, and we need coordinated and comprehensive forest-related policies for mitigation. An international mechanism such as REDD+ is essential to realize the great natural potential for tropical forests to stabilize the climate.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources, Reform
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Jesse Lueders, Cara Horowitz, Ann Carlson, Sean B. Hecht, Edward A. Parson
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: For the last several years, California has considered the idea of recognizing, within its greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program, offsets generated by foreign states and provinces through reduced tropical forest destruction and degradation and related conservation and sustainability efforts, known as REDD+. During their deliberations on the issue, state policymakers have heard arguments from stakeholders in favor of crediting REDD+ offsets, and those against. After years of planning and cooperative efforts undertaken with states in Brazil, Mexico, and elsewhere, California is still determining whether to embrace REDD+ offsets. The most salient and potentially persuasive arguments in favor stem from the opportunity to influence and reduce international forest-related emissions contributing to climate change, while simultaneously reducing the costs imposed by the state's climate change law. The state is still grappling, however, with serious questions about the effectiveness of REDD+ in addressing climate change, as well as the impacts of REDD+ on other social and environmental objectives. The suitability of the state's cap-and-trade program as a tool for reducing emissions outside the state, given the co-benefits that accrue to local communities from in-state reductions, remains another key area of debate. The outcome of this policy discussion will depend on interrelated questions of program design, future offset supply and demand, and the weight given to the importance of prioritizing in-state emissions reductions and co-benefits.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States, Brazil, California, Mexico
  • Author: Antonio G.M. La Viña, Alaya de Leon
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper provides an analysis of the international political dynamics around the reduction of tropical deforestation and forest degradation as a climate mitigation strategy, emphasizing the necessity of an enabling environment and sustainable financing to support the scaling up of these efforts globally. After describing the evolution from the 1990s of international cooperation to combat tropical deforestation, the paper focuses principally on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and how it provided an impetus for a renewed effort on this issue. The paper describes the complex process through which the climate and tropical forest agenda got inserted into UNFCCC processes, from its marginal role in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) created by the Kyoto Protocol to the emergence of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and the Role of Conservation, Sustainable Management of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks) as the forum where decisions have been made on climate and tropical forests. The paper dissects the issues that have dominated the REDD+ negotiations, identifies and characterizes the actors and constituencies that have been influential in the process, analyzes lessons learned from the successes of this UNFCCC agenda, and suggests recommendations to move the REDD+ and overall tropical forests and climate agenda forward. The paper concludes with an anticipation of what to expect in the future, in the light especially of what could possibly be a new climate change agreement in 2015.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Erlend A. T. Hermansen, Sjur Kasa
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Norway – a small northern country with only 5 million inhabitants – is at present a global leader in REDD+ financing. In this paper, we explain why and how this happened by telling the story about the emergence of Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) in 2007 and its institutionalization in the following years. We emphasize how a set of Norwegian climate policy characteristics prepared the ground for NICFI. These characteristics were the relative absence of less expensive potential emission cuts domestically, a tradition of seeking cheaper emission reduction options abroad, and few fiscal constraints due to high petroleum revenues. When the domestic demand for a more proactive climate policy started to increase from 2006 onward, two Norwegian environmental NGOs, The Rainforest Foundation Norway and Friends of the Earth Norway, exploited the window of opportunity that emerged from the tension between high domestic abatement costs and increasing domestic climate policy demands by proposing a large-scale Norwegian rainforest effort. This proposal resonated well with the new emphasis on reduced deforestation as a promising climate policy measure internationally. Towards the end of 2007, these ENGOs managed to convince a broad majority in Parliament that large-scale financing of measures to reduce deforestation globally should become an important part of Norwegian climate policy. Financing NICFI through the growth in the steadily increasing development aid budget dampened opposition from more fiscally conservative actors and facilitated the rapid set-up of a flexible implementing organization directly linked to some of the most proactive politicians. Several agreements with key rainforest countries were rapidly established, and including ENGOs in policy formulation and implementation helped maintaining the momentum and legitimacy for NICFI as a more permanent solution to Norway's climate policy dilemmas. NICFI's robustness and high level of legitimacy are illustrated by the fact that the initiative has survived the recent 2013 change of government quite intact. However, we also suggest that the long-time survival of the initiative may be dependent on the future of the UNFCCC process as well as the destiny of the national projects.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Europe, Norway
  • Author: Kevin Ummel
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: South Africa and many other countries hope to aggressively expand wind and solar power (WSP) in coming decades. The challenge is to turn laudable aspirations into concrete plans that minimize costs, maximize benefits, and ensure reliability. Success hinges largely on the question of how and where to deploy intermittent WSP technologies. This study develops a 10-year database of expected hourly power generation for onshore wind, solar photovoltaic, and concentrating solar power technologies across South Africa. A simple power system model simulates the economic and environmental performance of different WSP spatial deployment strategies in 2040, while ensuring a minimum level of system reliability.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy, Environment, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa
  • Author: Kevin Ummel
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: South Africa and many other countries hope to aggressively expand wind and solar power (WSP) in the coming decades. This presents significant challenges for power system planning. Success hinges largely on the question of how and where to deploy WSP technologies. Well-designed deployment strategies can take advantage of natural variability in resources across space and time to help minimize costs, maximize benefits, and ensure reliability.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics, Energy Policy, Environment, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: South Africa