Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Human Development Report

The 2007 UN Human Development Report, focussing on climate change, is out! I contributed to this, with a background paper in the spring (a version of which is online here; unfortunately not the final draft!), a box about coral reefs and development, and other inputs, and it's great to see this final result (as well as all the background papers including this one on the role or religions and this one on discounting in the context of climate change economics).

A target of a 50% cut in global emissions by 2050, and a strong critique of the UK government survived into the final report. Newspaper reports include this and this (Robert Mendelsohn's comment at the end of the latter may be worth attention, and some assumptions on which it's based examined).

Meanwhile in another part of the woods Worldwatch releases the optimistically titled Powering China's Development: The Role of Renewable Energy. The blurb says:
In 2006, China burned more than twice as much coal as any other country, according to the latest Vital Sign Update. China's coal use amounted to 39 percent of the global total, followed by the United States with 18 percent. The European Union and India came in third and fourth place, accounting for 10 percent and 8 percent of total coal use...

[Chinese demand]... accounted for more than 70 percent of the global growth in coal use in 2006 and for more than 60 percent of the rise in coal use over the past decade. But China also leads on renewables, and is poised to achieve—and even exceed—its target to obtain 15 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020.
P.S. An enlightening first response to the UNHDR comes from Marc Levy of Columbia University in this comment on the DotEarth blog. Here is an extract:
The HDR is very well suited to help us reframe climate change as a development problem, because its use of Amartya Sen’s human development paradigm is rooted in human choice and agency, as opposed to more narrow economic development. Typically, when the development agenda gets assessed in light of climate change, you tend to see estimates of loss of GDP, and even the Stern report, which tried very hard to break new ground in this area, ultimately came down to a cost-benefit calculus. What the Human Development report provides is a framework for thinking about how climate change affects the range of options for improving human lives, as experienced through food security, education, health, natural disaster risks, migration, and so on. In addition to framing the impacts in a more coherent manner, it also provides a better framework for prioritizing next steps and evaluating actions.

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