News - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Harvard Project: Events and Outreach at COP-23

  • Robert C. Stowe
| Dec. 30, 2017

The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements conducted three side-event panels at the Twenty-Third Conference of the Parties (COP-23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Bonn, Germany, November 6–17, 2017. (The government of Fiji officially presided over the COP.) COP-23 focused on elaborating the Paris Agreement, which was adopted at COP-21 in December 2015 and which entered into force on November 4, 2016. Although the Paris Agreement represents a major step forward in efforts to address global climate change, much remains to be done to specify the “modalities, rules, and guidelines” required to fully implement the Agreement, which primarily deals with action after 2020.

The Harvard Project focused, in particular, on the elaboration of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Article 6 deals with international cooperation to address climate change and has the potential to significantly advance cost-effective, market-oriented mechanisms to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Throughout its activities at COP-23, the Harvard Project drew upon a volume of briefs,  Market Mechanisms and the Paris Agreement, released in October 2017. This volume built in turn on a research workshop conducted in July 2017 at Harvard Kennedy School. The volume, workshop, and the Harvard Project’s participation in COP-23 were supported by the Harvard University Climate Change Solutions Fund. The volume is available here.

The Harvard Project’s first panel, on November 13, was “Heterogeneous Linkage and the Evolution of Article 6.” It was based in large part on a research paper released by the Harvard Project in October 2017, “Linking Heterogeneous Climate Policies (Consistent with the Paris Agreement).” The authors of the paper were Michael Mehling (MIT), Gilbert Metcalf (Tufts University), and Robert Stavins—Harvard Project Director. The three authors participated in the panel.

Jos Delbeke, Director General for Climate Action in the European Commission, and Kelley Kizzier, Co-Chair for the Article 6 negotiations, offered responses to the speakers’ presentations. Over 150 COP participants attended the event, which was hosted by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA).

The Harvard Project’s second event, “Implementing and Linking Carbon Pricing Instruments: Theory and Practice,” was held November 14 and co-organized with the Enel Foundation. Speakers again included Michael Mehling, Gilbert Metcalf, and Robert Stavins. Simone Mori, Head of European Affairs of the Enel Group, provided commentary on the presentations.

Robert Stavins summarizes his co-authored paper on heterogeneous linkage, which figured prominently in the Harvard Project’s first two events at COP-23, in a video produced at the COP by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), an environmental-economics-research institute in Milan and Venice. The video is available  here.

The Harvard Project’s last panel, “Carbon Pricing Policy Design,” was also on November 14, co-sponsored by the Enel Foundation, and hosted by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). Panelists reviewed experiences with cap-and-trade and carbon-tax policies and drew lessons from those experiences. They also examine the choice between—and design of—such policies, through a political-economy lens, in order to highlight important public-policy principles and policy options in carbon-pricing-policy design.

The discussion was based largely on a paper presented via videoconference by Joseph Aldy, “The Political Economy of Carbon Pricing Policy Design.” Aldy is Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and former Co-Director of the Harvard Project. Gilbert Metcalf then explored the applications of the paper to carbon-tax systems, and Robert Stavins examined cap-and-trade systems. Daniele Agostini, Head of Low Carbon Policies and Carbon Regulation, Enel Group provided commentary and additional insights.

Robert Stavins spoke as part of a panel on November 15 at the U.S. Climate Action Center—hosted throughout the COP by U.S. state governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations. The title of the panel was “The Engine of Ambition: University Research and Engagement to Support Climate Action.”

Professor Stavins and the Harvard-Project team also met individually with members of delegations from approximately twenty national governments and several business and civil-society organizations. The Harvard-Project team presented recent research and elicited views of delegations about the progress of the negotiations. Discussions often centered on the evolution of Article 6, but also on other aspects of the Paris Agreement and larger efforts to address climate change.

The Harvard Project received considerable press coverage before, during, and following COP-23.

For more information on this publication: Please contact Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
For Academic Citation: Stowe, Robert C. “Harvard Project: Events and Outreach at COP-23.” News, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, December 30, 2017.

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