Category Archives: Equity

A High-Carbon Partnership? Chinese-Latin American Relations in a Carbon-Constrained World

By Guy Edwards and J. Timmons Roberts 

CDL recoperefineria_g

The Chinese financed project would replace Costa Rica’s old national oil refinery.

China’s rapidly increasing investment, trade and loans in Latin America may be entrenching high-carbon development pathways in the region, a trend scarcely mentioned in policy circles. High-carbon activities include the extraction of fossil fuels and other natural resources, expansion of large-scale agriculture and the energy-intensive stages of processing natural resources into intermediate goods.

This paper addresses three examples, including Chinese investments in Venezuela’s oil sector and a Costa Rican oil refinery, and Chinese investment in and purchases of Brazilian soybeans.

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A New Frontier for Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform?

By David Ciplet and Alison Kirsch


Subsidies to dirty and wealthy fossil fuel companies represent a paradoxical misalignment of priorities. Action to remove fossil fuel subsidies must be a centerpiece of international and national climate efforts.

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Can Chile balance growth and climate action?

By Alison Kirsch and Guy Edwards 


Chile is at a crossroads. Copper prices are falling, the gap between energy supply and demand is widening, and in December the second round of presidential elections will determine who will lead Chile in the next administration. Chile faces a difficult balancing act to maintain its strong economic growth and the energy this requires, while ensuring progress on its climate, environmental and clean energy goals. In this whirlwind of domestic change, Chile has the opportunity to reaffirm its position as a global leader on climate change.

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IIED Briefing Paper for COP19 Released

By Olivia Santiago


The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has partnered with the Climate and Development Lab to provide a concise document to be presented by the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference (UNFCCC) of the Parties (COP19). The briefing policy will be used by LDCs to advocate for more equitable and adequate access to finance to mitigate their vulnerability to climate change.

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Climate Equity, Not Fossil Fuel Subsidies

By David Ciplet and Timmons Roberts

It’s absurd — the countries least responsible for causing climate change are suffering worst and first from its impacts, including droughts, floods and famines. Meanwhile, wealthy countries continue to feed the problem by directing hundreds of billions of dollars to subsidize fossil fuel industries every year. In fact, the support they’ve offered those hit hardest is less than one percent what they give the polluters most driving climate change.

In 2009, these countries promised to end fossil fuel welfare once and for all. It is time that they met this promise. Redirecting this money to the Least Developed Countries and other vulnerable nations would help them to adapt to this new climate reality and level the playing level playing field for clean energy, spurring a transition to a sustainable economy.

In three weeks, representatives of the world’s nations will meet for talks on the United Nations’ climate change treaty. President Obama led the initial charge against handouts to Big Oil, but lost the political will to make it a reality. Hot off his reelection, Obama has a huge chance to be bold and start moving money from the problem to its solution. Sign the petition here — will deliver the petition to wealthy countries at the climate talks when we reach a critical mass!

Ecological Debt and Climate Justice After Durban: Time for Some Practical Politics

By Timmons Roberts*


Photo Cred: Orin Langelle/GJEP

Written December 21, 2011, posted March 21, 2012

In the utilitarian lecture-hall of the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, some of the world’s top scholars and activists on the “ecological debt” spoke to a half-full hall.   Impassioned speeches outlined the big idea: that rather than owing a huge economic debt to private and World Bank lenders and governments of the wealthier nations, the world’s poorer nations are actually owed an “ecological debt” due to the plundering of their natural resources by colonists and neo-colonizing corporations alike.

Who owes by this reckoning?  The global North.  The bill?  By one scholarly estimate: US$1.8 trillion.  Others argue that it is impossible to calculate the value of complex ecological systems, but the first level estimation is that the financial debt of poor nations is tiny in comparison and should be forgiven.

The microphone is passed around the audience in the risers, and finally finds its way to the hands of a Durban labor union leader.

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