Saturday, June 28, 2014

The World Bank and Henry Paulson on Climate Change and Risky Business

We can deal with climate change AND create jobs.
June 2014.  Introducing his 'Risky Business' program, Henry Paulson recently wrote in the New York Times1 that its goals are to:

"..develop technologies, lower the costs of clean energy and create jobs as we and other nations develop new energy products and infrastructure. This would strengthen national security by reducing the world’s dependence on governments like Russia and Iran. Climate change is the challenge of our time."

Paulson served as secretary of the U.S. Treasury from July 2006 to January 2009, and is thus well positioned to learn from the past. It was on his watch that the 2008 financial crash developed, and all leaders could emulate his candour: "We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy."

The Risky Business project ( is intended to mitigate climate change while strengthening alternative energy economies and jobs. What is risky is that it plans to act now rather than waiting for all the science to come in. It's courageous because Paulson is a conservative, as is his partner in this project former Mayor Bloomberg, and these notions are not popular in quarters where many deny climate change even exists. As Paulson puts it, "We’ll never know enough to resolve all of the uncertainties. But we know enough to recognize that we must act now."

In the same week, The World Bank issued a report3 - "Climate-Smart Development." It shows that the practical benefits from actual projects illustrate how the goal of mitigating climate change while boosting economies can be achieved. The case studies involve:
  • Sustainable Transport in India
  • Cleaner Coookstoves in China
  • Solid Waste Management in Brazil
  • Biogas digestion and solar photovoltaics in Agriculture - Mexico
These projects showed that the aggregate benefits over 20 years of the four development projects will accomplish:
  • 195,000 to 261,000 new jobs
  • 1million–1.5 million tons of crop loss avoided
  • About 1 million lives saved
  • $37 billion–$60 billion increases to GDP
  • 350–520 Megaton (million metric tons) CO2 equivalents3 reduction
The World Bank is very confident that climate-smart development will "secure growth, increase jobs and competitiveness, save lives and slow the rate of climate changes."

Avoiding the progress trap
Henry Paulson could not have expressed the progress trap paradox better: "I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course."

by Daniel O'Leary, Montreal, 28 June 2014

See also:
What's all this about a Win-Win climate situation? (IMF and Paul Krugman)

1. Henry M. Paulson Jr. The Coming Climate Crash, New York Times,  June 21, 2014
2. World Bank Climate-Smart Development report
3. CO2, BC, methane (CH4), HFCs, and nitrous oxide (N2O).