Discussion Paper - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

Evaluating Mitigation Effort: Tools and Institutions for Assessing Nationally Determined Contributions

| November 2015

Links to full text of the discussion paper and its executive summary are at the bottom of this page.


The emerging pledge and review approach to international climate policy provides countries with substantial discretion in how they craft their intended emission mitigation contributions. The resulting heterogeneity in mitigation pledges places significant demands for a well-functioning transparency and review mechanism. In particular, the specific forms of intended contributions necessitate economic analysis in order to estimate the aggregate effects of these contributions as well as to permit "apples-to-apples" comparisons of mitigation efforts. This paper discusses the tools that can inform such analyses as well as the institutional needs of climate transparency. In light of the negotiating challenges with respect to transparency, the paper describes the potential for countries to implement Living Mitigation Plans that include regular updating of domestic mitigation programs with data and analyses on their outcomes. Such Living Mitigation Plans can serve as the foundation for independent, expert review of domestic mitigation programs. Moreover, they can include the inputs necessary to assess the mitigation value of domestic mitigation. Such assessments could inform the linkage of domestic mitigation policies, especially among disparately designed mitigation policies.

This paper builds in part on the proceedings of a research workshop conducted May 7–8, 2015 at the Harvard Kennedy School, "Comparison and Linkage of Mitigation Efforts in a New Paris Regime." For more information on the workshop and links to most presentations, see here. The author and the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements acknowledge the support and collaboration of the International Emissions Trading Association and the World Bank Group's Networked Carbon Markets Initiative, with regard to the workshop, the paper, and a related side-event panel to be conducted at the Twenty-First Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December 2015.

For more information on this publication: Please contact Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
For Academic Citation: Aldy, Joseph E.. “Evaluating Mitigation Effort: Tools and Institutions for Assessing Nationally Determined Contributions.” Discussion Paper, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center, November 2015.