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

COP-21 & The Pathway to Paris

January 2016

Harvard Kennedy School at the Paris Climate Conference

Climate change is a global problem that will require global solutions. Harvard Kennedy School expects to be a part of the solution through the development of academically rigorous research and ideas, and by engaging policymakers, non-governmental actors, practitioners, scholars, and others from around the world.

The School is represented at the Twenty-First Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-21) November 30–December 11 by the Belfer Center's Harvard Project on Climate Agreements (HPCA), directed by Professor Robert Stavins. We will document the work of the Project at the COP, as well as the participation of other Harvard faculty, scholars, alumni, and students attending the conference and their important research on climate change issues.

Analysis & Opinions

"At Last, Global Fretting on Climate Change"
Paris agreement greatly expands international commitment to reduce damage, Robert Stavins says.

"At the Paris climate talks, media coverage takes a turn"
Christine Russell, Senior Fellow in Belfer Center's Environment and Natural Resources Program, examines the media coverage at COP-21.

"COP-21 Panelists Praise Joint Climate Efforts Between California and China"
Synopsis of a COP-21 side panel event with HPCA Director Robert Stavins.

"COP21 is Still on Track as Countries Drop Their More Unfeasible Ambitions"
Progress is being made at the Paris climate talks, as negotiators being to accept the limits of what can and can't be delivered.

"Discussion Focuses on Climate Agreement Impacts on Business"
Synopsis of a side panel hosted by the HPCA at COP21 on the most important challenges businesses will face post-Paris.

"Harvard Project Events at COP-21 in Paris"
The Belfer Center's Harvard Project on Climate Agreements will co-host four events at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France in December.

"Harvard’s Stavins, Stowe compare climate change policies in Paris"
A side-event panel titled “Dialogue on the Comparison of Climate Change Policies” on Friday at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) featured Robert Stavins, faculty director of the Harvard Project and Harvard Project Manager Robert Stowe.

"HKS at COP21: Discussion Focuses on Climate Agreement Impacts on Business"
Participants in a side panel hosted on Dec. 9 at COP21 by the Belfer Center's Project on Climate Agreements shared their perspectives on the most important challenges businesses will face post-Paris.

"Joseph Aldy on the Impacts of a Climate Agreement on the Business Community"
Professor Joseph Aldy gives his perspective on "Key Elements of the Paris Agreement and Implications for Business," a side panel event hosted by HPCA at COP-21, and on the prospects for a successful outcome in Paris.

"Mapping the Road Ahead for the IPCC"
Synopsis of scholars sharing their ideas for improving the process by which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) carries out its research agenda, at a side panel at COP-21, which was co-sponsored by HPCA. Also see a related Harvard Gazette news article, "Mapping the Road Ahead for Climate Research."

"Paris Can Be A Key Step"
Robert Stavins explains that the Paris talks may be a key step in international negotiations and a significant step in efforts to address climate change.

"Professor Robert Stavins on the Paris Agreement"
Faculty director of Harvard Project on Climate Agreements calls the deal a 'broad foundation for meaningful progress on climate change'

"Robert Stowe Reflects on the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements (HPCA) and its Role at COP21"
Robert Stowe, who manages HPCA's research and policy-outreach programs, will be part of the Project team participating in the Summit. Harvard Kennedy School spoke with Mr. Stowe prior to his departure for Paris.

"The Paris Climate Conference at the Halfway Point"
The 195 national governments that are members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) met in Paris to draft a major new agreement on climate change. Robert Stowe summarizes what has been accomplished midway through COP-21.

"Top U.S. Scientist: World Must Act Now to Reverse Climate Change"
“The world needs ultimately to completely decarbonize,” says John Holdren, Obama’s science advisor. Here’s what he says about why we need to do it—and whether we can.

"What the WTO Can Learn from Paris Climate Talks"
Negotiators for the discussions to take place in Nairobi should emulate the progress made in the climate change agreements.

Featured Multimedia

WATCH: COP-21 & Robert Stavins
Robert Stavins discusses COP-21

WATCH: The IPCC at a Crossroads: Enhancing the Usefulness of IPCC to the UNFCCC Process
Video Coverage of a side event co-sponsored by HPCA at COP-21

WATCH: COP-21 & The Pathway to Paris
What's the significance of the COP-21 Climate Change Conference in Paris? Belfer Center experts Paula Dobriansky, Daniel Schrag, and Robert Stavins explain how far we've come since the adoption of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change and the new approaches to tackling climate change.

WATCH: Bringing the Global Community to the Table: Paris 2015 UN Climate Change Conference
Harvard President Drew Faust and panelists Daniel Bodansky (Arizona State University), Coral Davenport (New York Times), Zou Ji (China's National Center for Climate Change Strategy), and Robert Stavins joined moderator Richard McCullough (Harvard's Vice-Provost for Research) for a high-level discussion on climate change policy and the Paris conference

LISTEN: Finding Agreement on Climate Policy in Paris
Professor Robert Stavins, Director of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements out of the Belfer Center, explains why the COP21 in Paris is a critical step in addressing anthropogenic global climate change. He discusses the history of past climate summits and lays out both his markers for success and potential impediments to a deal.

LISTEN: What's the bigger risk: Using nuclear energy or turning away from it?
At the Paris climate talks, most everybody is searching for a silver bullet — a technological fix to produce enough clean energy to allow us to continue to grow. Some argue we already have part of the solution: more nuclear energy.

LISTEN: World Leaders To Debate Role Of Nuclear Power At U.N. Climate Summit
NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Matthew Bunn, a nuclear and energy policy analyst and professor of practice at the Harvard Kennedy School, about the role nuclear power will play in the future. As world leaders meet in Paris for the U.N. climate summit, they discuss if countries are moving away or toward nuclear energy and and given safety and budget concerns, whether atomic power makes sense anymore.


"An Assessment of the Energy-Efficiency Gap and its Implications for Climate-Change Policy"
Robert Stavins, Kennedy School Ph.D. student Todd Gerarden, and colleagues explore the challenges to improving end-use energy efficiency, which is often put forward as a low-cost or no-cost options for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

"Comparability of Effort in International Climate Policy Architecture"
Comparing the widely-varying types of mitigation plans under the Paris agreement will be both difficult and important. Joseph Aldy and William Pizer examine a variety of metrics that could be used to evaluate and compare countries' climate change mitigation effort and illustrate their potential application for large developed and developing countries.

"Evaluating Mitigation Effort: Tools and Institutions for Assessing Nationally Determined Contributions"
Joseph Aldy discusses the tools that can inform the assessment and comparison of countries' widely varying mitigation pledges under the Paris agreement.

"Facilitating Linkage of Heterogeneous Regional, National, and Sub-National Climate Policies Through a Future International Agreement"
Robert Stavins and colleagues explore how linkage among emissions-reduction systems can reduce cost and advance equity, enhancing the chances for success of a new 2015 climate agreement.

"Lessons Learned from Three Decades of Experience with Cap-and-Trade"
The authors summarize the past thirty years of cap-and-trade programs throughout the world and explore future applications of market-based approaches to reducing emissions.

"The Role of Integrated Assessment Models in Climate Policy: A User's Guide and Assessment"
James Stock, Harvard Professor of Economics and frequent collaborator with the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, writes with Gilbert Metcalf about why we need to determine a "social cost of carbon" (SCC)—and how we might do so. Consideration of an SCC will become increasingly important as the United States and other countries implement their pledges under the Paris agreement.

The Future of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Robert Stavins and colleagues conducted a research workshop in February 2015 on approaches to improving the process by which research on climate change is assessed through the IPCC. IPCC assessments will be a crucial guide to the UNFCCC and member countries in implementing the Paris agreement. An article in Science captures some of the more important conclusions of this workshop.

Related Past Events

Climate Change Diplomacy Week
Leading experts from Harvard and around the world examined the prospects for success for the ongoing negotiations that are hoped will lead to a new climate-change agreement in Paris. This series of seminars was co-hosted by the Belfer Center's Future of Diplomacy Project.

Climate Change Policy After Paris: Opportunities and Risks for Developing Countries
Seminar with Rene Castro-Salazar, former Minister of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications of Costa Rica and a 2015 Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

Harvard University Climate Week
The Harvard University Center for the Environment, in cooperation with a wide variety of partner institutions across the Harvard campus, organized a week of climate change-related events during "Climate Week," April 6–10, 2015. It was the first of an annual undertaking that gives the Harvard community, as well as the interested public, exposure to some of the best scholarship and thinking related to climate change at the University.

The Paris Negotiations & Other Environmental Forums: Insights and Impacts
Senior Fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project and former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky discussed the development of a U.S. line on climate change negotiations across the years, with a particular emphasis on recent climate deals and the American approach to discussions in Paris.

What's at Stake in Paris — Diplomacy & Policy at the Climate Change Talks
Opening the joint Climate Change Diplomacy Week event series two weeks before the start of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, leading experts from Harvard and around the world examine the propensity for success, the arc of negotiation toward the Paris meeting and the science that must inform diplomatic decision-making on global climate policy.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Dworkin, Arielle. “COP-21 & The Pathway to Paris.” News, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, January 2016.