Addressing Climate Change at the World Bank


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.

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