Climate Change

If you could choose how to curb greenhouse gas emissions, would you choose a carbon tax or cap-and-trade? In this post, which first appeared on Views from the Center, we say the economic arguments are pretty finely balanced. (In the next post, we'll say that the political and practical considerations lean heavily towards cap-and-trade.)

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Europe’s approach to development could be characterized as energetically tackling the symptoms of poor economic opportunities for developing countries by providing substantial and effective aid, while doing relatively little to tackle the underlying structural causes of poverty.

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The Guardian development blog is running a series of end of year reflections on development, including one by me. Many of the articles are upbeat about progress in developing countries, but pessimistic about the short term economic prospects for the industrialised world and for global cooperation to tackle shared global problems.

The series so far includes:

  • Duncan Green from Oxfam, who contrasts progress in developing countries over the last year with the gloom of the ‘formerly rich’ countries of the G-8.
  • Calestous Juma from Harvard, who identifies regional integration and better links with the diaspora as key drivers of Africa’s growth.
  • Shanta Devarajan from the World Bank, who is cautiously optimistic, especially in the light  of increased demand by Africans for their governments to be accountable.
  • Linda Raftree from Plan, who also emphasizes progress towards more inclusive and open societies.
  • Kevin Watkins from Brookings and UNESCO, calling for “a properly financed global fund for education like those that have delivered such striking results in the health sector“.
  • Jonathan Glennie from ODI and the Guardian, who is pessimistic about the prospects for international cooperation in the face of rising protectionism and nationalism as a result of poor economic prospects in the US and Europe.
  • and my contribution, reproduced below, which gives a positive account of progress in many countries in Africa over the past year, and emphasizes the importance for developing countries of better global decision-making.

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The development policy debate focuses too much on aid. Aid policies may help to improve the living conditions of people in developing countries, but it is development policies that will result in lasting transformation. If we are serious about promoting long-term change, we should talk less about aid, and more about the other rich-world policies and behaviours that affect developing countries. Continue reading
Air travel is a public good; eating meat is a public bad. The livestock industry is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions - more than all forms of travel put together. So why are we so fixated on the carbon footprint of air travel and not on reducing meat consumption? Continue reading
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