The world has witnessed a new era of cooperation on climate change between the United States and China. This cooperation between the world’s two largest economies and carbon emitters played a fundamental role in the international negotiations leading up to the adoption of the Paris Agreement in December 2015. This includes, in particular, the joint announcement of their respective post-2020 climate actions in November 2014 and the crafting of common visions on key issues related to the Paris Outcome in September 2015. The world has high expectations that the United States and China will enhance their future collaboration on climate change. These expectations will be the cornerstone of translating the Paris vision into action. Furthermore, the Joint Presidential Statement released in March 2016 also stressed that “joint efforts by the United States and China on climate change will serve as an enduring legacy of the partnership between our two countries”.
By Robert C. Stowe
The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements conducted two side-event panels at the Twenty-Second Conference of the Parties (COP-22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Marrakech, Morocco November 7–18, 2016. COP-22 focused on elaborating the Paris Agreement, which was adopted at COP-21 in December 2015 and which entered into force on November 4, 2016.
The goal of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, which was established in 2007, is to help identify and advance scientifically sound, economically sensible, and politically pragmatic public policy options for addressing global climate change. Drawing upon leading thinkers in countries around the world (including Argentina, Australia, China, Europe, India, Japan, and the United States), the Project conducts research on policy architecture, key design elements, and institutional dimensions of international and domestic climate policy.
The Twenty-First Conference of the Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Paris in December 2015, adopted a major new international agreement to curb the greenhouse-gas emissions that are changing the Earth's climate. The Agreement also supports adaptation to climate change and advances other key functions of the new international climate regime.
The Paris Agreement represents a significant step of progress in global efforts to address climate change. Nearly all of the 195 national governments that are members of the UNFCCC submitted plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions—a level of participation far exceeding that of the Kyoto Protocol, which was the first major international climate-change agreement. The Paris Agreement also provides a pathway for member countries to increase the ambition of their mitigation plans over time.
The Paris Agreement will, for many important purposes, become effective in 2020. A great deal of work remains to be done before that time to define how the new regime will operate and how the Agreement will be implemented, if it is to fulfill its promise. The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is engaging leading scholars and policy practitioners to identify and assess research-based options that might prove useful as the Paris Agreement is elaborated and then implemented.
As of October 2016, the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements had released 91 Discussion Papers, three edited books (published by Cambridge University Press), and a number of policy briefs, all written by leading scholars in the fields of economics, political science, international relations, and law. These documents are available at the Project's website. Examples of topics addressed by Project authors are:
- Options for international policy architectures and institutional venues for global climate change—including alternatives and complements to the UNFCCC (for example, separate aviation or trade agreements—and various types of climate policy clubs)
- Methods for comparing the ambition and effectiveness of heterogeneous mitigation pledges in a voluntary climate-policy regime
- Interaction between international, national, and sub-national climate policy
- Linkage among emissions trading systems—and among the disparate mitigation systems that will be characteristic of the new Paris regime
The Harvard Project has conducted research workshops in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Venice, Italy, Berlin, Germany, and Beijing, China—for Project authors and other scholars studying climate change policy. The Harvard Project has collaborated with leading research institutes focusing on environmental economics and policy: Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, based in Venice and Milan; the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, in Berlin; the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation in Beijing; and Resources for the Future, in Washington, D.C.
The Project has conducted numerous roundtables and workshops bringing together researchers, policy makers, and stakeholders (advocates and leaders in business and non-governmental organizations), in Brussels, Washington, D.C., Canberra, Rome, London, Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, Mexico City, Beijing, and Doha. Summaries are available on the Project's website.
The Project has conducted policy-outreach meetings at the Thirteenth (Bali, Indonesia), Fourteenth (Poznan, Poland), Fifteenth (Copenhagen, Denmark), Sixteenth (Cancun, Mexico), Eighteenth (Doha, Qatar), Nineteenth (Warsaw, Poland), Twentieth (Lima, Peru), and Twenty-First (Paris, France) COPs. At the COPs—and at intermediate UNFCCC negotiating sessions—Harvard Project leaders have also held meetings with individual negotiating teams from over 50 countries. At all of these meetings, the Project receives valuable insights, suggestions, and feedback with regard to international climate change policy.
Our Zotero library includes both publications by the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements and later versions of these publications published in peer-reviewed journals. Zotero is a bibliographic-management solution with both a web and plug-in interface.
A Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education program in October 2017 will convene U.S. and international policymakers and corporate leaders to address the policy solutions and implications of one of the most critical global public policy issues of our time.
The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is grateful for support from the Harvard University Climate Change Solutions Fund; the Enel Foundation; the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation—both located at the Harvard Kennedy School; the Harvard University Center for the Environment; Christopher P. Kaneb (Harvard AB 1990); and the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA).
Previous sponsors of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements include: ClimateWorks Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation.
The closely affiliated, University-wide Harvard Environmental Economics Program receives additional support from the Enel Endowment for Environmental Economics at Harvard University, the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, BP, Chevron Services Company, Duke Energy Corporation, and Shell.
Duke University Energy Initiative, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, National Development and Reform Commission, Resources for the Future
- Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
- Centre for Policy Research (Environmental Law and Governance research area)
- Climate-L News, a listserv maintained by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and an excellent source of news about climate-change research, events, and negotiations. One can subscribe to the list or read recent updates here.
- Ecofys: Ecofys is a research consultancy focusing on energy and climate. The "Publications" and "News" sections of its web site have publicly-available information and reports on climate policy.
- Evidence for Action on Energy Efficiency (E2e; based at Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley)
- Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (Climate Change and Sustainable Development research area). See also the associated International Center for Climate Governance.
- Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics
- Harvard Law School Environmental Law Program: Harvard faculty participating in the Program are leading scholars and practitioners in the field of environmental law, including law pertaining to climate change.
- IISD Reporting Services: IISD Reporting provides nearly-real-time web-based and video coverage of UNFCCC (see below) negotiating sessions.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Working Groups II and III ("Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" and "Mitigation," respectively) each deal in part with policy.
- International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP), presenting recently-updated data on carbon markets, including an interactive global map of regional, national, and sub-national emissions trading systems.
- International Emissions Trading Association (IETA): IETA is a business association with an interest in promoting emissions trading. It provides useful reports and news on the development and operation of market-based mechanisms to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
- International Energy Agency ("Climate Change" portion of web site)
- Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change
- Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development ("Climate Change" portion of web site)
- Resources for the Future ("Climate" research area)
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): The UNFCCC, with the associated Kyoto Protocol, is the primary international treaty addressing climate change. This site provides background and information on negotiations hosted by the Convention and its Secretariat.
- World Bank ("Climate Change" portion of web site)
Jason Chapman, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements Coordinator: 617-496-8054.