Gernot Wagner, Clinical Associate Professor at New York University and former economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, shared his thoughts on the impact of politics on climate policy in the latest episode of “Environmental Insights: Discussions on Policy and Practice from the Harvard Environmental Economics Program,” a podcast produced by the Harvard Environmental Economics Program.
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 197 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.
As of June 2019, the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements had released 107 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 that will be characteristic of the new Paris regime
- Carbon-pricing policy, including cap-and-trade and carbon-tax systems; linkage among emissions trading systems—and among heterogeneous mitigation systems
- Interaction between international, national, and sub-national climate policy
For research publications, news of events, presentations, and other information, see 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.
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, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, and Doha. Summaries of most roundtables 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), Twenty-Third (Bonn, Germany), and Twenty-Fourth (Katowice, Poland) COPs. At the COPs, 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.
Climate Change Policy: Economics and Politics is an online executive program developed by Harvard Kennedy School faculty to address the significant challenge of climate change and its impacts on the environment, as well as society and the global economy. Through an engaging virtual curriculum, participants will explore potential policies to address climate change; why some governments might choose to address climate change more or less vigorously; and how sub-national governments and non-governmental actors might complement action by national governments.
Led by Professor Robert Stavins, this interactive program is designed for managers, analysts, and leaders from government, corporations, and non-governmental organizations from around the world. This five-day executive program will provide:
Deep insights into the science, economics, and policy of climate change.
Cutting-edge research from the field
Analytical tools and conceptual frameworks to better understand climate-related policies
Climate Change Policy: Economics and Politics
Session Dates: October 5, 2020 – October 9, 2020
Application Deadline: September 21, 2020
Faculty Chair: Robert Stavins
Executive Certificate Offered: This program is part of the Economic Development and Public Policy Executive Certificate series.
For more information, please visit the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education website: Climate Change Policy: Economics and Politics.
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.
- 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)
The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is grateful for support from the Harvard Global Institute, the Enel Foundation, Harvard University Climate Change Solutions Fund, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, and the Harvard University Center for the Environment.
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 Harvard Kennedy School, BP, and Chevron Services Company.
Previous sponsors of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements include: The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, Christopher P. Kaneb, ClimateWorks Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation, the Qatar National Food Security Programme, and Shell.
Project and Press Inquiries, Jason Chapman