John Mueller, Mark G. Stewart and Benjamin H. Friedman
In one respect at least, the reaction to the Boston Marathon bombings was commendably restrained. A number of commentators across the political spectrum have tried to put the danger in context and argued that the best way to undermine terrorism is to avoid being frightened by it.
To be sure there were some overwrought responses by public officials. The Federal Aviation Administration established a no-fly zone over the bombing site, San Francisco banned back packs at crowded events, and tourists near the White House were backed off an additional 40 yards.
And a few pundits immediately began making extravagant claims about the relevance of the attacks. The New York Daily News proclaimed that the Boston bombs “once again blew up the idea that any of us will ever be safe again,” and The National Journal’s Ron Fournier claimed that the bombing “makes every place (and everybody) less secure.”
“The best way to undermine terrorism is to avoid being frightened by it.”
Yet for pretty much the first time there has been a considerable amount of media commentary seeking to put terrorism in context — commentary that concludes, as a Doyle McManus article in the Los Angeles Times put it a day after the attack, “We’re safer than we think.”
Similar tunes were sung by Tom Friedman of the New York Times, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe, David Rothkopf writing for CNN.com, Josh Barro at Bloomberg, John Cassidy at the New Yorker, and Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune, even as the Washington Post told us “why terrorism is not scary” and published statistics on its rarity. Bruce Schneier, who has been making these arguments for over a decade, got 360,000 hits doing so forThe Atlantic. Even neoconservative Max Boot, a strong advocate of the war in Iraq as a response to 9/11, argues in the Wall Street Journal, “we must do our best to make sure that the terrorists don’t achieve their objective — to terrorize us.”
James Carafano of the conservative Heritage Foundation noted in a radio interview that “the odds of you being killed by a terrorist are less than you being hit by a meteorite.” Carafano’s odds may be a bit off, but his basic point isn’t. At present rates, an American’s chance of being killed by a terrorist is about one in 3.5 million per year — compared, for example, to a yearly chance of dying in an automobile crash of one in 8,200. That could change, of course, if terrorists suddenly become vastly more capable of inflicting damage — as much commentary on terrorism has predicted over the past decade. But we’re not hearing much of that anymore.
In a 60 Minutes interview a decade ago filmmaker Michael Moore noted, “The chances of any of us dying in a terrorist incident is very, very, very small.” Bob Simon, his interlocutor, responded, “No one sees the world like that.”
Both statements were pretty much true then. However, the unprecedented set of articles projecting a more restrained, and broader, perspective suggests that Simon’s wisdom may need some updating, and that Moore is beginning to have some company.
When evaluating post-9/11 U.S. counterterrorism policy, including the increase of over $1 trillion on domestic homeland-security spending, the starting question has typically been the wrong one: “are we safer?” Instead, reflected in the new commentary, it should have been “how safe are we?” Or, as risk analyst Howard Kunreuther put it in 2002, “How much should we be willing to pay for a small reduction in probabilities that are already extremely low?”
The beginnings of an adult reaction to the Boston attacks in the media suggest that politicians and policymakers might safely start to ask Kunreuther’s question. In doing so they would be following the lead of New York mayor Michael Bloomberg who declaimed in 2007, “Get a life. You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist.”
Thus far, that has been just about the only instance in which an official has said such a thing, and Bloomberg received quite a bit of flack for the remark at the time. But politicians should note that he was still handily reelected two years later.John Mueller is a political scientist at Ohio State and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Mark Stewart is a civil engineer at the University of Newcastle in Australia and a visiting fellow at Cato. Benjamin H. Friedman is a research fellow at Cato and co-editor of Terrorizing Ourselves. Mueller and Stewart are the authors of Terror, Security, and Money.
ECFR reports: Julien Barnes-Dacey on Syria's conflict
ECFR reports: Yan Xuetong & Mark Leonard on China's rise
ECFR español: Sergio Cebrián sobre comuniación europea
ECFR agenda: the Italian 'Sleeping Beauty'
ECFR Deutsch: Thomas König erklärt die Nord Korea Krise
ECFR italiano: Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi sull' Iran
A rare moment of opportunity has emerged to renew diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syria conflict. The priority now must be de-escalating the level of violence and the reducing the threat of regional spill-over
Despite the record number of immigrants coming to Germany, the Bertelsmann Stiftung is calling for a strategic realignment of the country's policy on immigration. "Germany will need more qualified immigrants than ever before," said JÃ¶rg DrÃ¤ger, member of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board. "Unfortunately, it is still not attractive enough, especially to people from outside the EU." DrÃ¤ger also warned against expectations that the influx of workers from Europe's crisis-ridden southern countries would remain strong. In order to attract more highly skilled workers to Germany over the long term, the GÃ¼tersloh-based foundation is thus proposing a range of measures consisting of new immigration regulations, a revised right to citizenship and increased efforts to make newcomers feel welcome. According to a recent study carried out on behalf of the foundation, if these measures were put into place, Germany's social welfare systems and labor market would benefit from immigration to an even greater extent than is currently the case.
Industrialized countries have repeatedly committed to provide new and additional finance to help developing countries transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient growth. This assessment addresses German efforts to provide “fast start finance” (FSF) as a contribution to the pledge by developed countries to provide USD 30 billion from 2010 to 2012 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is part of a series of studies scrutinizing how developed countries are defining, delivering, and reporting FSF.
Germany has increased climate finance in recent years and met its self-defined FSF pledge. According to the government’s FSF reporting, from 2010-2012 Germany provided a total of EUR 1.29 billion (approximately USD 1.7 billion) for climate action in developing countries that was counted towards FSF. Germany has therefore slightly exceeded its FSF pledge for the period 2010-2012. Even before the start of the FSF period, Germany was already providing significant funding for climate change-related activities in developing countries, particularly for renewable energy and energy efficiency. It therefore started from a relatively high climate finance baseline. Moreover, FSF is only a part of what the German government provides in climate-related finance for developing countries. Overall, Germany has increased delivery of international climate finance when compared to climate-related spending prior to the FSF period: In 2011, Germany committed about EUR 1.8 billion in total for climate finance, an increase from EUR 470 million in 2005.
Germany’s FSF is roughly evenly distributed be¬tween bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Out of the EUR 1.29 billion, EUR 585 million was channelled through multilateral funds. The largest single channel is the World Bank-administered Climate Technology Fund (CTF), which received EUR 375 million from Germany from 2010-2012. Substantial amounts of funding were also transferred to adaptation-related multilateral funds and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Two federal ministries, the German Federal Ministry Economic Coop¬eration and Development (BMZ), and the German Federal Ministry Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), are responsible for the disbursement of FSF resources. Nearly half of this funding has been channelled through the German development cooperation agencies GIZ and KfW. Relatively few resources were delivered directly to developing country domestic institutions.
Germany FSF has primarily supported general mitigation (45 percent), and efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (26 percent), while 28 percent supports adaptation. Germany aimed to provide 50 percent of its climate finance for mitigation, 33 percent for adaptation activities, and 27 percent (EUR 350 million) for REDD+. The Copenhagen Accord sought a balance between adap¬tation and mitigation (including REDD+) during the FSF period. Adaptation has received less finance than expected at the outset of the FSF period. Overall, most German FSF resources have been allocated to the regions of Africa (34 percent) and Asia (29 percent). Additionally, roughly 60 percent of all adaptation finance and 50 percent of bilateral adaptation finance has been allocated to Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries, and African countries.
The majority of Germany’s FSF is provided through grants. Loans are provided to the CTF, and account for about 29 percent of the overall FSF contribution. Germany is relatively transparent about its FSF. Through BMU and BMZ, the German government publishes lists of the FSF projects it supports, reporting on the recipient country, project name, project description, objective, amount, implementing agency, financial instrument, and expected project duration. It also reports to the European Commission (EC) on an annual basis. In addition, Germany has commissioned a study on lessons learned from FSF for long-term finance. However, official reporting would be strengthened through the inclusion of information on the actual disbursements and on project impact.
Germany is one of the few countries which has applied and published a specific definition of “new and additional” for its FSF. Germany only counts those funds towards FSF which were committed in addition to a 2009 baseline (as part of Official Development Assistance, or ODA, spending) and/or which are generated by new financing sources, namely the auctioning revenues under the EU ETS. Nonetheless, some of the financial resources counted as FSF were pledged before the FSF period: for example, Germany pledged finance to the CIFs in 2008, but only funding delivered from 2010 onwards was counted as FSF. All German FSF is counted towards ODA. However, Germany has yet to meet its commitment to provide 0.7 percent of its Gross National Income as ODA, and in fact its ODA contributions have recently declined. Also, Germany’s climate finance is committed in the context of a complementary commitment to scale up finance for biodiversity under the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). It will be important to monitor reporting against both of these commitments in order to understand whether pledges have been duplicated or recycled.
Most of the projects counted towards FSF seem to have a principal or at least significant climate objective. An independent application of the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) climate markers to the FSF projects suggests that the vast majority of projects seems to have a clear climate element, based on limited project informaiton. However, a focus on only bilateral projects reveals that the share of principally climate-driven projects may be lower than bilateral projects committed to other climate objectives. Furthermore, an assessment of the incremental climate change costs that are covered through the projects is not available.
Germany is one of the few developed countries to have committed climate finance beyond the FSF period. At COP18, Germany pledged to deliver EUR 1.8 billion in climate finance in 2013, an increase from the EUR 1.4 billion delivered in 2012.1 These funds will come from the general budget and from the “Sondervermögen Energie und Klimafonds” (“Special Energy and Climate Fund”). This separate budget structure is financed by auctioning revenues from the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). The current low prices of carbon, however, may reduce available climate finance beyond 2012.
With regard to reporting on international climate finance, we suggest the following actions to further in¬crease transparency:
Continue to publish annual, project-level information after the close of the FSF period. Reporting systems could be updated to reflect the parameters of the new United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) common reporting format (for example, by specifying the sectors to which funding is directed). It could also seek to improve reporting on the actual state of implementation of projects, and actual disbursement of committed funds. Therefore, Germany may explore practical options for providing some project-level information on the results of at least the larger programs funded in real time, e.g on the basis of the project reporting that is required of implementers (such as through annual or evaluation reports).
Provide additional information on which projects are funded by which ministries.
Provide more detailed financial information on projects that meet commitments to increase both climate and biodiversity finance to provide greater clarity on synergies, and assure that finance has not been double-counted. Such reporting can also be related to climate finance reporting under the OECD climate markers, in order to ensure consistency with FSF reporting.
Further strengthen and harmonize reporting and transparency standards for implementing institutions, in particular dedicated multilateral climate funds. Ger¬many can support progress to this end as a member of the governing bodies of these funds.
With regard to Germany’s international climate finance approach as a whole, we offer the following recommendations:
Continue to work to increase support for adaptation, with the goal of achieving a greater balance between adaptation and mitigation.
Explore ways to work more closely with recipient country-based institutions through its delivery of climate finance. This may need to be accompanied by capacity building support in order to increase these countries’ capacity to access such funding and use it effectively.
Explore options to ensure that increasing climate finance as part of efforts to deliver ODA does not reduce support available to help countries address development challenges as a whole. In the German case, the fact that ODA has been declining while climate finance increases at a relatively rapid rate presents a particular challenge.
Consider options to find more reliable sources of climate finance. The German climate finance approach has been largely sourced through the revenues from emission-trading. Nevertheless, there is a need for all countries to further scale-up climate finance in order to meet agreed goals of mobilising USD 100 billion from a mix of public and private sources by 2020. Options might include multilateral efforts to strengthen the EU ETS through increased EU mitigation targets, as well as the deployment of other innovative sources, such as financial transaction taxes or revenues from international transport. A clear pathway for scaling up climate finance would help create greater predictability of finance, and help generate trust and ambition in developing countries.