34 Items

View of the crescent moon through the top of the earth's atmosphere. Photographed above 21.5°N, 113.3°E by International Space Station crew Expedition 13 over the South China Sea, just south of Macau (NASA image ID: ISS013-E-54329).


Discussion Paper

Governance of Highly Decentralized Nonstate Actors: the Case of Solar Geoengineering

| November 2018

We here introduce the idea of highly decentralized solar geoengineering, plausibly done in form of small high-altitude balloons. While solar geoengineering has the potential to greatly reduce climate change, it has generally been conceived as centralized and state deployed. Potential highly decentralized deployment moves the activity from the already contested arena of state action to that of environmentally motivated nongovernmental organizations and individuals, which could disrupt international relations and pose novel challenges for technology and environmental policy. We explore its feasibility, political implications, and governance.

President John F. Kennedy signs the Arms Control and Disarmament Act.

C Stoughton, White House

Discussion Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Organizing for Arms Control: The National Security Implications of the Loss of an Independent Arms Control Agency

  • Leon Ratz
| Sep. 23, 2013

Fourteen years since the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) was dissolved, Leon Ratz (HKS '13) explores the national security implications of the loss of America's independent arms control agency. Ratz argues that the organizational merger has weakened the federal government's decision-making and analytic capabilities when it comes to addressing critical arms control and non-proliferation challenges.

Discussion Paper - Energy Technology Innovation Policy Project, Belfer Center

The Next Frontier in United States Unconventional Shale Gas and Tight Oil Extraction: Strategic Reduction of Environmental Impact

  • Vanessa R. Palmer
  • Yiqiao Tang
  • A. Patrick Behrer
| March 2013

The unconventional fossil fuel extraction industry—in the U.S., primarily shale gas and tight oil—is expected to continue expanding dramatically in coming decades as conventionally recoverable reserves wane. At the global scale, a long-term domestic supply of natural gas is expected to yield environmental benefits over alternative sources of fossil energy. At the local level, however, the environmental impacts of shale gas and tight oil development may be significant. The development of technology, management practices, and regulatory policies that mitigate the associated environmental impacts of shale gas development is quickly becoming the next frontier in U.S. unconventional fossil resource extraction.

Report Chapter - Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity

Impacts of Climate-Related Geoengineering on Biological Diversity

  • Phillip Williamson
  • Robert Watson
  • Georgina Mace
  • Paulo Artaxo
  • Ralph Bodle
  • Victor Galaz
  • David Santillo
  • Chris Vivian
  • David Cooper
  • Jaime Webbe
  • Annie Cung
  • Emma Woods
| September 2012

Working from a mandate from the 2010 Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), this report compiles and synthesizes available scientific information on the possible impacts of geoengineering techniques on biodiversity, including preliminary information on associated social, economic, and cultural considerations.

Discussion Paper - Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, Belfer Center

WikiLeaks 2010: A Glimpse of the Future?

  • Tim Maurer
| August 2011

The recent publications on WikiLeaks reveal a story about money, fame, sex, underground hackers, and betrayal. But it also involves fundamental questions regarding cyber-security and foreign policy. This paper argues WikiLeaks is only the symptom of a new, larger problem which is the result of technological advances that allow a large quantity of data to be 'stolen' at low or no cost by one or more individuals and to be potentially made public and to go 'viral', spreading exponentially online.

A Nissan Leaf charging in Portland, Ore. A series of fast-charging stations for electric cars will be installed this year along Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon to become one of the first links in a Green Highway stretching down the West Coast from Canada.

AP Photo

Discussion Paper

Will Electric Cars Transform the U.S. Vehicle Market?

| July 2011

For the past forty years, United States Presidents have repeatedly called for a reduction in the country's dependence on fossil fuels in general and foreign oil specifically. Some officials advocate the electrification of the passenger vehicle fleet as a path to meeting this goal. The Obama administration has embraced a goal of having one million electric-powered vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015, while others proposed a medium-term goal where electric vehicles would consist of 20% of the passenger vehicle fleet by 2030 — approximately 30 million electric vehicles. The technology itself is not in question; many of the global automobile companies are planning to sell plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and/or battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2012. The key question is, will Americans buy them?


Proposed Liability Framework for Geological Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide

  • Wendy B. Jacobs
| October 2010

This paper proposes a framework for a liability regime for geological sites for sequestration of carbon dioxide. It incorporates issues that were discussed at the the June 21, 2010 Expert Workshop Addressing CCS Liability, Oversight, and Trust Fund Issues.

Harvard Law School’s Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic* supports immediate large-scale carbon capture and sequestration (“CCS”) demonstration projects as part of a larger national and global effort to address climate change. Large-scale CCS projects (those that sequester at least 1.5 million tons of captured carbon dioxide (“CO2”) annually) must be demonstrated soon to confirm CCS as a viable strategy to combat climate change and to show the commitment of the United States to achieving meaningful reductions in domestic CO2 emissions.


Summary Report of Expert Workshop Addressing CCS Liability, Oversight, and Trust Fund Issues

  • Wendy B. Jacobs
| October 29, 2010

This paper summarizes the discussions from a workshop convened by the Harvard Law School's Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic in Washington, DC on June 21, 2010.

There is broad consensus in scientific, business, and political circles that carbon capture and sequestration ("CCS") must be demonstrated quickly on a large scale because it is likely to be an important technology for reducing carbon dioxide ("CO2") emissions throughout the world. Indeed, a number of commentators predict that it may be impossible to achieve significant emissions reduction in the United States and abroad without the use of CCS.

Derry Township Police Chief William D. Smith uses a photo during a news conference, July 6, 2006, to explain the contents of several chemical tanker cars that derailed near Hershey, Pa. 14 families and several businesses were evacuated.

AP Photo

Discussion Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Rail Transportation of Toxic Inhalation Hazards: Policy Responses to the Safety and Security Externality

| February 2010

Toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) chemicals such as chlorine gas and anhydrous ammonia are among the most dangerous of hazardous materials. Rail transportation of TIH creates risk that is not adequately reflected in the costs, creating a TIH safety and security externality. This paper describes and evaluates policy alternatives that might effectively mitigate the dangers of TIH transportation by rail. After describing the nature of TIH risk and defining the TIH externality, general policy approaches to externalities from other arenas are examined. Potential risk reduction strategies and approaches for each segment of the supply chain are reviewed. The paper concludes by summarizing policy options and assessing some of the most promising means to reduce the risks of transportation of toxic inhalation hazards. Four policy approaches are recommended: internalizing external costs through creation of a fund for liability and claims, improving supply chain operations, enhancing emergency response and focusing regulatory authority. It is further suggested that the Department of Transportation convene a discussion among stakeholder representatives to evaluate policy alternatives.

Discussion Paper

Biofuels and Certification

| June 2009

Liquid biofuels can provide a substitute for fossil fuels in the transportation sector. Many countries have mandated the use of biofuels, by creating targets for their use. If not implemented with care, however, actions that increase biofuel production can put upward pressure on food prices, increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and exacerbate degradation of land, forest, and water sources. A strong global biofuels industry will not emerge unless these environmental and social concerns are addressed.