With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) is a global database that gathers and presents the best available estimates of CO2 emissions for 50,000 power plants around the world and the identities of the 4,000 firms that own them. Electricity production is responsible for about one-quarter of all climate-warming greenhouse gas pollution, and CARMA is the only global database for tracking specific sources of CO2, the most important greenhouse gas. First launched in 2007, CARMA was expanded and upgraded in 2012 to incorporate data from authorities in the United States, European Union, Canada, India, and South Africa as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency. For facilities lacking publicly-disclosed data, estimates are generated using a new suite of statistical models.
The objective of CARMA is to provide information necessary to create a cleaner, low-carbon future. By providing complete information for both clean and dirty power producers, CARMA hopes to influence the opinions and decisions of consumers, investors, shareholders, managers, workers, activists, and policymakers. CARMA builds on experience with public information disclosure techniques that have proven successful in reducing traditional pollutants.
The airwaves have recently been filled with advertisements heralding a plethora of clean energy technologies. GE promoted its smart grid technologies in a Wizard of Oz-themed Super Bowl ad. Vestas, the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world, has branded itself No. 1 in Modern Energy. Various groups have designed commercials touting the potential of "clean coal," including a GE ad featuring models-turned-miners (tagline: "Harnessing the power of coal is looking more beautiful every day."). And environmental groups have struck back against the branding of coal as "clean" with satirical advertisements (tagline: "Clean coal harnesses the awesome power of the word ‘clean!’". In this maelstrom of marketing, who can say which clean energy technology is best?
Nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine whether greenhouse gases (GHGs) pose a threat to peoples’ health or welfare – the first step toward regulation -- the EPA this week issued a draft rule on a national GHG registry:
This is a joint posting with Kevin Ummel
Q: What can we do to save the earth?
Wendell Berry: "Stay put."
Economists are always irritating their colleagues by harping about opportunity cost, but the concept can be useful nonetheless. For example, consider the “carbon account” announced for the Poznan climate change meeting. According to the sponsors, travel and other logistics for the 8,000 conference participants will generate 13,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Participants have duly announced the purchase of “carbon offsets” as atonement for their logistical sins (which begins to sound like the sale of indulgences by the medieval Church, but that’s another story). The whole thing projects a reassuring aura: By purchasing offsets, the participants can cover the “climate cost” of the meeting.