Globalization and Scarcity - Center on International Cooperation ...

Globalization and Scarcity - Center on International Cooperation ...


Admittedly, political concerns on energy security ong>andong>

peak oil will drive changes in energy systems even

without a comprehensive international climate regime.

Unfortunately, though, there is nothing to say that energy

security must necessarily be low-carbon. To take one

example, the technology has long existed to derive liquid

fuels from coal – which could reduce countries’ reliance

on foreign oil, but at a severe cost in climate change

terms. Similarly, while electric power can be used to run

vehicles, the electricity can (as noted above) be generated

as easily from coal-fired power stations as from nuclear or

renewable energy.

In all, then, the policy requirement is for governments

to jump-start the emergence of a low-carbon economy,

which would simultaneously address energy security ong>andong>

climate change concerns. Achieving this requires a much

more favorable investment climate, however; the paper

returns shortly to the question of what this would require

from the multilateral system.

Agriculture is the second key area in which investment is

needed. As noted earlier, the productivity gains driven by

the agricultural ‘Green Revolution’ during the 20th century

have shown signs of running out of steam in recent years –

just as demong>andong> is rising rapidly in line with rising affluence

ong>andong> a growing global population.

A 21st century ‘Green Revolution’ will need to replicate

the improvements in crop yields made by its 20th century

predecessor. But it will also need to achieve three more

objectives. First, it must be far more resource-efficient.

Agriculture, more than any other sector, is where the battle

on water security will be won or lost: as noted earlier,

it accounts for 70% of human water use. Agriculture’s

reliance on fossil fuels ong>andong> high greenhouse gas emissions

will also need to be reduced dramatically.

Second, a 21st century Green Revolution must be resilient

to the shocks ong>andong> stresses that can be expected in years

to come, especially changing weather patterns. Third

ong>andong> finally, it must reduce poverty: three quarters of the

world’s poor live in rural areas, ong>andong> the countries in which

the greatest potential for productivity improvements

exists are those that missed out on the 20th century Green

Revolution, particularly in Africa ong>andong> Asia.

One of the most important areas for investment is

improving producers’ access to markets – a broad

category of tasks that includes upgrading transport ong>andong>

distribution infrastructure (everything from rural roads

to ports) as well as mechanisms to allow small farmers to

aggregate their output in order to sell to large purchasers

like supermarkets or global food companies. A second

priority is investing in access to knowledge, particularly

through scaling up rural extension services that can diffuse

science ong>andong> technology innovations out to producers in

the countryside. Other key areas for investment are access

to credit, access to risk management ong>andong> access to assets

(including long>andong> ong>andong> water). 138

As with energy, agricultural objectives are challenged by

a historical problem of under-investment. The proportion

of official development assistance going to agriculture

fell from 17% of the total in 1980 to 3% in 2006; the

amount of public investment in agricultural research ong>andong>

development has roughly halved over the last 15 years;

ong>andong> despite the fact that some of the greatest potential

gains in agricultural productivity are to be found in Africa,

in 2008 only 4.5% of public sector spending there went on

agriculture, despite an African Union target to spend 10%

of public expenditure on agriculture by 2008. 139 At the

same time, while private sector investment in developing

country agriculture has increased markedly, there have

been concerns over whether such investments benefit

the host country, ong>andong> particularly poor people (an issue

discussed in the International Trade section of the paper).

In future, the Food ong>andong> Agriculture Organization suggests

that roughly $30 billion a year is needed to improve

agricultural productivity in low income countries, while

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has put the same

figure at $15-20 billion. These estimates would put the

total between now ong>andong> 2030 in the range of $420 billion,

using the upper end of the UNSG’s estimated range – an

order of magnitude lower than the amounts that the IEA

estimate are needed in the energy sector, but a massive

sum nonetheless.



ong>Globalizationong> ong>andong> ong>Scarcityong> | Multilateralism for a world with limits

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