“I use ‘disruptive’ in both its good and bad connotations. Disruptive scientific and technological progress is not to me inherently good or inherently evil. But its arc is for us to shape. Technology’s progress is furthermore in my judgment unstoppable. But it is quite incorrect that it unfolds inexorably according to its own internal logic and the laws of nature.”
The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements hosted Susan Biniaz, former lead attorney for the U.S. climate-change negotiating team on April 17–19, 2018 at Harvard Kennedy School. Ms. Biniaz conducted a public seminar, “The Paris Agreement: Thoughts of a Negotiator on its Significance and Future,” on April 19, which attracted students, faculty, and other members of the academic community from Harvard, Tufts University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology interested in hearing her unique perspective on the past, present, and future of the treaty.
The goal of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, which was established in 2007, is to identify and advance scientifically sound, economically sensible, and politically pragmatic public policy options for addressing global climate change. Drawing upon leading thinkers from around the world, the Project conducts research on policy architecture, key design elements, and institutional dimensions of international and domestic climate-change 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 reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions that are changing the Earth's climate. Nearly all of the 196 national governments that are members of the UNFCCC submitted plans, under the Paris Agreement, 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 most 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.
For More Information: For research results, news of events and presentations, and other information, see the the footer of this page. You may sign up for email updates on the Project's research and events by selecting "Environment & Climate Change" on the subscribe page.
As of October 2017, the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements had released 100 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 systems in a voluntary climate-policy regime
- Linkage among emissions trading systems—and among heterogeneous mitigation systems
- Interaction between international, national, and sub-national climate policy
The Harvard Project has conducted research workshops in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Venice, Italy; Berlin, Germany; and Beijing and Shanghai, 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.
In addition to its research workshops, the Harvard Project has conducted numerous roundtables 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), Twenty-First (Paris, France), Twenty-Second (Marrakech, Morocco), and Twenty-Third (Bonn, Germany) 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; BP; and Christopher P. Kaneb (Harvard AB 1990).
Previous sponsors of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements include: ClimateWorks Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation, the Qatar National Food Security Programme, and the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA).
The closely affiliated, University-wide Harvard Environmental Economics Program receives additional support from the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, the Enel Endowment for Environmental Economics at Harvard University, Chevron Services Company, and Shell.
Duke University Energy Initiative, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation of China’s 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)