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Public policy on global warming has reached a critical new phase. Calls for action are escalating, reflecting such developments as heightened public awareness after Hurricane Katrina, the influential documentary film by former US Vice President Al Gore, and the high-profile “Stern Review” by
Sir Nicholas Stern for the UK Treasury. In the United States, several states are adopting measures to discourage carbon dioxide emissions, and the
Supreme Court has ruled that CO
2 is a pollutant to be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Internationally, the European Union has established a functioning system of trading in carbon emission permits.
Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, negotiations could begin later this year on the post-Kyoto regime after 2012.
Relatively little attention has gone, however, to the likely impact of global warming at the country level, especially in the developing world, and the social and economic implications in China, India, Brazil, and the poor countries of the tropical belt in Africa and Latin America. This book, on the stakes for world agriculture, by William R. Cline of the Center for
Global Development and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, makes a major contribution on this score. Cline’s analysis has sobering implications for all concerned about global poverty and longterm economic development. This study starkly confirms the asymmetry between potentially severe agricultural damages in many poor countries and milder effects in rich countries.
Cline provided an early broad analysis of climate change 15 years ago in the pioneering Institute book,
The Economics of Global Warming.
In this new study, he uses agricultural impact models of two separate types, “Ricardian” statistical economic models and process-based agronomic crop models, combined with leading climate model projections, to develop comprehensive estimates for agricultural effects in over 100 countries. He develops
00--FM--iv-xvi 6/28/07 10:28 AM Page x a “consensus” set of geographically detailed estimates for changes in temperature and precipitation by the 2080s and applies these climatic changes to the agricultural impact models.
His findings confirm the view that aggregate world agricultural impacts will be negative, if moderate, by late this century, rather than the alternative view that world agriculture would actually benefit in the aggregate from business as usual global warming over that horizon. His findings also confirm in greater detail and on a more systematic basis than previously available the prognosis that damages will be disproportionately concentrated in developing countries.
The findings of this study strongly suggest that policymakers in both industrial and developing countries should have a keen interest in helping ensure that international action begins in earnest to curb global warming from its business as usual path. Otherwise losses in agricultural output potential could be severe in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America in particular. Policymakers concerned about the future of global poverty thus also need to be concerned about the future of global warming.
Center for Global Development
Peterson Institute for
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The Center for Global Development is an independent, nonprofit policy research organization dedicated to reducing global poverty and inequality and to making globalization work for the poor. Through a combination of research and strategic outreach, the Center actively engages policymakers and the public to influence the policies of the United States, other rich countries, and such institutions as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization to improve the economic and social development prospects in poor countries. The Center’s Board of
Directors bears overall responsibility for the Center and includes distinguished leaders of nongovernmental organizations, former officials, business executives, and some of the world’s leading scholars of development.
The Center receives advice on its research and policy programs from the
Board and from an Advisory Committee that comprises respected development specialists and advocates.
The Center’s president works with the Board, the Advisory Committee, and the Center’s senior staff in setting the research and program priorities and approves all formal publications. The Center is supported by an initial significant financial contribution from Edward W. Scott Jr. and by funding from philanthropic foundations and other organizations.
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The Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics is a private, nonprofit institution for the study and discussion of international economic policy. Its purpose is to analyze important issues in that area and to develop and communicate practical new approaches for dealing with them. The Institute is completely nonpartisan.
The Institute is funded by a highly diversified group of philanthropic foundations, private corporations, and interested individuals. About 30 percent of the Institute’s resources in our latest fiscal year were provided by contributors outside the United States, including about 12 percent from
The Institute’s Board of Directors bears overall responsibilities for the
Institute and gives general guidance and approval to its research program, including the identification of topics that are likely to become important over the medium run (one to three years) and that should be addressed by the Institute. The director, working closely with the staff and outside
Advisory Committee, is responsible for the development of particular projects and makes the final decision to publish an individual study.
The Institute hopes that its studies and other activities will contribute to building a stronger foundation for international economic policy around the world. We invite readers of these publications to let us know how they think we can best accomplish this objective.