Jevons" has been watching the telly, and saw Sebastian Mallaby
telling Fareed Zakaria what Robert Zoellick
should be doing at the World Bank. He thinks Mallaby’s on the right track (see
from about 7:10 onwards):
One of the big, big challenges and opportunities for the World Bank, I think,
is climate change. Because the world has got to a point where it sees there
is a problem: something has to be done. At the same time, a second Kyoto kind
of deal is extraordinarily unlikely and, if you had it, it would not bring
in China and India, which are two of the big sources of carbon emissions now.
And so you need to have something which is global, because it’s a global problem,
but which is short of a kind of huge great treaty. And I think brokering action
through the World Bank, using the World Bank as a convener of countries from
around the world, which has the technical expertise to do projects, which
knows how to manage large sums of money, that is something where the World
Bank can make a big difference.
Mallaby and Zakaria together then cook up a scheme whereby the G7 will give
the World Bank some gazillions of dollars to bribe the Chinese and Indians into
burning clean coal. (They never mention the word "sequestration",
which is disappointing, since even "clean" coal emits enormous amounts
of greenhouse gases, and the World Bank might be very well placed to encourage
China and India to capture and store their carbon emissions underground.)
I’m not convinced that this kind of mission creep is necessarily a good idea
for the Bank: it feels like a desperate casting-around for Something To Do in
a context of increasing irrelevancy for the World Bank. In any case, the idea
that the G7 is suddenly going to find vast amounts of money to simply give to
India and China is, shall we say, even less likely than a second Kyoto treaty.
If Zoellick is going to make his mark on the Bank, I think he might be well
advised to continue to look at development issues and global poverty reduction,
rather than disappearing off on a climate-change tangent, important though the
climate-change issue is.