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Larson, Donald F.

Development Research Group, World Bank
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Fields of Specialization
Rural Development Policy; Natural Resource Policy; Agricultural Productivity and Growth; Climate Change Policy and Markets; Commodity Markets and Risk
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Development Research Group, World Bank
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Last updated: January 31, 2023
Biography
Donald F. Larson is a Senior Economist with the World Bank’s Development Research Group. He holds a B.A in economics from the College of William and Mary, an M.A. in economics from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland. With colleagues, he has authored or edited five books, including An African Green Revolution: Finding Ways to Boost Productivity on Small Farms, a forthcoming volume from Springer, and The Clean Development Mechanism: An Early History of Unanticipated Outcomes, a forthcoming volume from World Scientific. He has published numerous book chapters and journal articles, with an emphasis on agricultural productivity and growth; food and rural development policies; natural resource policies; the institutions and markets related to climate change; and the performance of commodity futures and risk markets. During his time with the World Bank, Don has participated in policy discussion in Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, East Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. He was a member of the team that launched the World Bank’s Prototype Carbon Fund.  
Citations 168 Scopus

Publication Search Results

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Will the Clean Development Mechanism Mobilize Anticipated Levels of Mitigation?

2010-03-01, Rahman, Shaikh M., Dinar, Ariel, Larson, Donald F.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries can only tap mitigation opportunities in developing countries by investing in projects under the Clean Development Mechanism. Yet Clean Development Mechanism investments have so far failed to reach many of the high-potential sectors identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This raises doubts about whether the Clean Development Mechanism can generate an adequate supply of credits from the limited areas where it has proved successful. This paper examines the current trajectory of mitigation projects entering the Clean Development Mechanism pipeline and projects it forward under the assumption that the diffusion of the Clean Development Mechanism will follow a path similar to other innovations. Projections are then compared with pre-Clean Development Mechanism predictions of the mechanism s potential market size to discern whether limits on the types of projects entering the pipeline have limited the expected supply of certified emission reductions. Parameter tests suggest that this is not the case and that currently identified Clean Development Mechanism investments will generate offsets in excess of early model predictions. In particular, under favorable circumstances, the mechanism is on track to deliver an average annual flow of roughly 700 million certified emission reductions by the close of 2012 and nearly to 1,100 million certified emission reductions by 2020.

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Aligning Climate Change Mitigation and Agricultural Policies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

2012-06, Larson, Donald F., Blankespoor, Brian

Greenhouse gas emissions are largely determined by how energy is created and used, and policies designed to encourage mitigation efforts reflect this reality. However, an unintended consequence of an energy-focused strategy is that the set of policy instruments needed to tap mitigation opportunities in agriculture is incomplete. In particular, market-linked incentives to achieve mitigation targets are disconnected from efforts to better manage carbon sequestered in agricultural land. This is especially important for many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia where once-productive land has been degraded through poor agricultural practices. Often good agricultural policies and prudent natural resource management can compensate for missing links to mitigation incentives, but only partially. At the same time, two international project-based programs, Joint Implementation and the Clean Development Mechanism, have been used to finance other types of agricultural mitigation efforts worldwide. Even so, a review of projects suggests that few countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia take full advantage of these financing paths. This paper discusses mitigation opportunities in the region, the reach of current mitigation incentives, and missed mitigation opportunities in agriculture. The paper concludes with a discussion of alternative policies designed to jointly promote mitigation and co-benefits for agriculture and the environment.

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The Cost Structure of the Clean Development Mechanism

2012-11, Rahman, Shaikh M., Larson, Donald F., Dinar, Ariel

This paper examines the cost of producing emission reduction credits under the Clean Development Mechanism. Using project-specific data, cost functions are estimated using alternative functional forms. The results show that, in general, the distribution of projects in the pipeline does not correspond exclusively to the cost of generating anticipated credits. Rather, investment choices appear to be influenced by location and project type considerations in a way that is consistent with variable transaction costs and investor preferences among hosts and classes of projects. This implies that comparative advantage based on the marginal cost of abatement is only one of several factors driving Clean Development Mechanism investments. This is significant since much of the conceptual and applied numerical literature concerning greenhouse gas mitigation policies relies on presumptions about relative abatement costs. The authors also find that Clean Development Mechanism projects generally exhibit constant or increasing returns to scale. In contrast, they find variations among classes of projects concerning economies of time.

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Carbon Markets, Institutions, Policies, and Research

2008-10, Larson, Donald F., Dinar, Ariel, Rahman, Shaikh Mahfuzur, Entler, Rebecca

The scale of investment needed to slow greenhouse gas emissions is larger than governments can manage through transfers. Therefore, climate change policies rely heavily on markets and private capital. This is especially true in the case of the Kyoto Protocol with its provisions for trade and investment in joint projects. This paper describes institutions and policies important for new carbon markets and explains their origins. Research efforts that explore conceptual aspects of current policy are surveyed along with empirical studies that make predictions about how carbon markets will work and perform. The authors summarize early investment and price outcomes from newly formed markets and point out areas where markets have preformed as predicted and areas where markets remain incomplete. Overall the scale of carbon-market investment planned exceeds earlier expectations, but the geographic dispersion of investment is uneven and important opportunities for abatement remain untapped in some sectors, indicating a need for additional research on how investment markets work. How best to promote the development and deployment of new technologies is another promising area for study identified in the paper.

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Diffusion of Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism

2010, Rahman, Shaikh M., Dinar, Ariel, Larson, Donald F.

To date, developed countries can only tap mitigation opportunities in developing countries by investing in projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Yet CDM investments have so far failed to reach all of the high-potential sectors identified in IPCC reports. This raises doubts about whether the CDM will be able to generate an adequate supply of credits from the limited areas where it has proved successful. Our paper examines the current trajectory of potential mitigation entering the CDM pipeline and projects it forward under the assumption that the diffusion of the CDM will follow a path similar to other kinds of innovations. Projections are then compared to pre-CDM predictions of the mechanism's potential market size used to assess Kyoto's cost, in order to discem whether limits on the types of project entering the pipeline will also limit the eventual supply of certified emission reductions (CERs). The main finding of the paper is that the mechanism is on track to deliver an average annual flow of roughly 700 million CERs by the close of 2012 and nearly to 1100 million tons by 2020. Parameter tests suggest that currently identified CDM investments will exceed early model predictions of the potential market for CDM projects. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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A Review of Carbon Market Policies and Research

2008, Larson, Donald F., Dinar, Ariel, Rahman, Shaikh Mahfuzur, Entler, Rebecca

We describe important institutions that shape climate change policies together with a set of key market-reliant instruments. We selectively review the related economic literature, emphasizing empirical studies that assess the efficacy of current policies and the workings of policy-dependent markets. Special attention is given to new carbon finance markets tied to the Kyoto Protocol's flexibility mechanisms. Promising areas for future research are identified.

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Factors Affecting Levels of International Cooperation in Carbon Abatement Projects

2008-11, Dinar, Ariel, Rahman, Shaikh Mahfuzur, Larson, Donald, Ambrosi, Philippe

The Clean Development Mechanism, a provision of The Kyoto Protocol, allows countries that have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to gain credit toward their treaty obligations by investing in projects located in developing (host) countries. Such projects are expected to benefit both parties by providing low-cost abatement opportunities for the investor-country, while facilitating capital and technology flows to the host country. This paper analyzes the Clean Development Mechanism market, emphasizing the cooperation aspects between host and investor countries. The analysis uses a dichotomous (yes/no) variable and three continuous variants to measure the level of cooperation, namely the number of joint projects, the volume of carbon dioxide abatement, and the volume of investment in the projects. The results suggest that economic development, institutional development, the energy structure of the economies, the level of country vulnerability to various climate change effects, and the state of international relations between the host and investor countries are good predictors of the level of cooperation in Clean Development Mechanism projects. The main policy conclusions include the importance of simplifying the project regulation/clearance cycle; improving the governance structure host and investor countries; and strengthening trade or other long-term economic activities that engage the countries.

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Agriculture and the Clean Development Mechanism

2011-04-01, Larson, Donald F., Frisbie, J. Aapris

Many experts believe that low-cost mitigation opportunities in agriculture are abundant and comparable in scale to those found in the energy sector. They are mostly located in developing countries and have to do with how land is used. By investing in projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), countries can tap these opportunities to meet their own Kyoto Protocol obligations. The CDM has been successful in financing some types of agricultural projects, including projects that capture methane or use agricultural by-products as an energy source. But agricultural land-use projects are scarce under the CDM. This represents a missed opportunity to promote sustainable rural development since land-use projects that sequester carbon in soils can help reverse declining soil fertility, a root cause of stagnant agricultural productivity. This paper reviews the process leading to current CDM implementation rules and describes how the rules, in combination with challenging features of land-use projects, raise transaction costs and lower demand for land-use credits. Procedures by which developed countries assess their own mitigation performance are discussed as a way of redressing current constraints on CDM investments. Nevertheless, even with improvements to the CDM, an under-investment in agricultural land-use projects is likely, since there are hurdles to capturing associated ancillary benefits privately. Alternative approaches outside the CDM are discussed, including those that build on recent decisions taken by governments in Copenhagen and Cancun.