The annual climate negotiations are set to begin at the end of this month in Cancun, Mexico. Faculty, students, and staff from the LBJ School's Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law have written a number of important studies that will inform discussions about the effects of climate change and how to address the problem.
Dr. Josh Busby, an Assistant Professor and Crook Distinguished Scholar at the Strauss Center, co-authored a recent report for the German Marshall Fund entitled Mapping Climate Change and Security in North Africa. The report was written with Strauss Center research associate Kaiba White and PhD student Todd Smith as part of the Centerâ€™s broader project on Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS). The report details the areas of North Africa most vulnerable to the effects of climate change that are priorities for foreign assistance to adapt to climate change.
In work that bridges the research on climate vulnerability, LBJ students and faculty are also identifying which foreign assistance projects in Africa support efforts to adapt to climate change. Dr. Catherine Weaver, an Associate Professor in the LBJ School and the Strauss Center's Research Coordinator, along with LBJ student Christian Peratsakis, recently published International Development Assistance for Climate Change Adaptation in Africa: The Aid Scramble as part of the Strauss Centerâ€™s CCAPS program.
â€œAfrica is the least able among developing regions of the world to quickly adapt to climate change because of the complex political, social, economic, and ecological drivers of climate change vulnerability,â€ said Weaver. â€œEndemic poverty, weak institutions, high urban population growth in coastal cities, lack of capital and infrastructure, limited access to technology, complex natural disasters, and enduring conflict all hinder efforts to invest in long-term adaptation.â€
Dr. Weaver is leading a year-long Policy Research Project (PRP) on the topic sponsored by the CCAPS program. Christine Ackerson, Master of Public Affairs student, will attend the Cancun conference to present preliminary results of the PRP, which aims to develop a comprehensive database of aid programs that contribute to climate change adaptation in Africa. In the coming months, students in the PRP will travel to Kenya, Malawi and Ethiopia to carry out fieldwork in support of the project.
Dr. Weaver is also working with researchers from AidData to geo-reference development aid projects to Africa. Maps of aid combined with Busbyâ€™s vulnerability mapping will allow exploration of the relationship between the geographic location of development assistance projects and the climate vulnerability of these areas. It will help answer the question of whether climate adaptation aid is going to where it is most needed.
Beyond the Africa-specific focus of the CCAPS project, Busby recently published a report for the Washington think tank Resources for the Future entitled China and Climate Change: A Strategy for U.S. Engagement. This critical review of Chinaâ€™s role in climate policy offers recommendations for how the Obama administration can more effectively influence Chinaâ€™s climate policy and suggests how America might productively engage China on such issues as carbon measurement, reporting and verification as well as ways to encourage private sector involvement.
â€œIn the absence of comprehensive domestic legislation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has limited influence over Chinaâ€™s climate policy,â€ said Busby. â€œChinaâ€™s actions have their own internal logic.â€ He encouraged the Obama Administration to â€œ1) follow through on the modest technology agreements completed in November 2009 in Copenhagen; (2) prioritize domestic legislation at home to boost the pressure on China to do more; (3) depoliticize the transparency regime of measurement, reporting and verification; (4) explore with great care the possibility of border tax adjustments; (5) instruct U.S. negotiators to avoid hectoring China on climate change; (6) pursue sectoral agreements with China to restrain emissions in heavy industry; and, (7) establish an overall policy environment in both countries to give private actors the incentive to alter their behavior to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.â€