Reports & Papers

1746 Items

Assorted plastic collected during a spring community cleanup at the shoreline and harborfront of Hamilton, Ontario.

Jasmin Sessler

Paper

Avoiding a Plastic Pandemic: The Future of Sustainability in a Post COVID-19 World

| January 2021

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is upending our lives and the global economy in ways unimaginable until recently. While the overall impacts are still difficult to quantify, ramifications are sure to be felt for decades to come. Providing secure, reliable, and affordable resources for all without causing devastating environmental consequences is perhaps the greatest challenge of the 21st century. But the pandemic has significantly altered dynamics and changed priorities. How is this impacting the quest for sustainability?

In this paper we analyze these challenges by focusing on the plastic industry. There is no doubt that plastic has molded society in many ways that make our lives easier and safer, but it has also created a global environmental and sustainability crisis. In order to curb our addiction to plastic, the world had been waging a war against virgin plastic, but the pandemic has turned an enemy into a much-needed ally. How can we leverage the advantages of plastic without contributing to the world’s environmental crisis? This dilemma poses a significant challenge, but also opens an opportunity to address sustainability at a systemic level through circularity and the transition to low-carbon alternatives to petroleum-based plastics.

Discussion Paper - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Environmental Benefit-Cost Analysis: A Comparative Analysis Between the United States and the United Kingdom

| January 2021

The United States and United Kingdom have longstanding traditions in use of environmental benefit-cost analysis (E-BCA). While there are similarities between how E-BCA is utilized, there are significant differences too, many of which mirror ongoing debates and recent developments in the literature on environmental and natural resource economics. We review the use of E-BCA in both countries across three themes: (a) the role of long-term discounting; (b) the estimation and use of carbon valuation; and, (c) the estimation and use of the value of a statistical life. 

Discussion Paper - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Co-Benefits and Regulatory Impact Analysis: Theory and Evidence from Federal Air Quality Regulations

    Authors:
  • Matthew Kotchen
  • Mary Evans
  • Meredith Fowlie
  • Arik Levinson
  • Karen Palmer
| January 2021

This paper considers the treatment of co-benefits in benefit-cost analysis of federal air quality regulations. Using a comprehensive data set on all major Clean Air Act rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency over the period 1997–2019, the authors show that (1) co-benefits make up a significant share of the monetized benefits; (2) among the categories of co-benefits, those associated with reductions in fine particulate matter are the most significant; and (3) co-benefits have been pivotal to the quantified net benefit calculation in nearly half of cases.

Report - Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship and the German Council on Foreign Relations

Stronger Together: A Strategy to Revitalize Transatlantic Power

| December 2020

Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) convened a strategy group of experts and former government officials from the United States and Europe over the past year to discuss the crisis in the transatlantic relationship and to propose a strategy to revive and strengthen it.

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Paper - SOAS University of London

From dysfunctional to functional corruption: The politics of reform in Lebanon’s electricity sector

    Authors:
  • Neil McCulloch
  • Muzna Al-Masri
  • Marc Ayoub
| December 2020

Corruption in the electricity sector has been a major constraint to economic and social progress in many countries. In Lebanon, the electricity sector’s dysfunction and inefficiency mask deeper political economy challenges, including rampant rent-seeking, captured institutions and a fractured state. Over decades, corruption and mismanagement in Lebanon’s electricity sector has contributed to the draining of public finances and has deprived the Lebanese people of their right to reliable and affordable electricity. When Lebanon witnessed an uprising in October 2019, electricity (or the lack thereof) was a focal point of public grievance and it remains a central concern amidst the economic crisis that the country currently faces.

man takes a rapid COVID-19 test

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File

Staff assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego’s Radiology Department monitor a patient during a brain MRI, Aug. 12, 2020.

DoD

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

The Department of Defense, Artificial Intelligence, and Healthcare

| Nov. 20, 2020

Through interviews with senior military leaders, technologists, medical professionals, and academia, the research examines the potential impacts of leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning within DoD healthcare.

A view of the interior of the U.S. Capitol building

Benn Craig

Report

Building a 21st Century Congress: Improving STEM Policy Advice in the Emerging Technology Era

| November 2020

Many congressional personal offices and committees are already staffed by smart, public-spirited scientists and technologists, and Congress can draw on outside experts to inform its legislation and its hearings. But none of the interviewees for this report or our previous report, argued that the status quo worked as well as it should; no one thought that Congress had enough STEM expertise to effectively reckon with emerging technology issues. Everyone—from members of Congress to their staffers, from non-profit leaders to private sector professionals, from generalists to STEM professionals—thought that Congress can do better. 

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

A U.S. Diplomatic Service for the 21st Century

Many of the most serious challenges the United States will face in 2021 and beyond will require our diplomats to take the lead. These include the return of great power competition, leading a global response to the pandemic and its consequences, supporting American companies overseas during a devastating recession, mounting a major effort on climate change, negotiating an end to the Afghan and Iraq wars, and helping American citizens in every corner of the world who need the support of their government. Morale in the State Department, however, is at an all-time low and efforts to promote greater racial and ethnic diversity have failed just when the country needs women and men of all backgrounds as our primary link to nearly every country in the world. There are challenges to be met inside the Foreign Service, including an honest self-assessment of the Service’s internal culture.

A satellite view of Little Diomede Island, Alaska, in the middle of the Bering Strait. 

CNES/Airbus via Google Earth, used with permission

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

Addressing Dramatic Changes in the Bering Strait Region Requires Governance Adaptations

| Nov. 12, 2020

The Arctic of today does not resemble the Arctic of fifty years ago, and the Arctic of 2070 will be different still, based on everything we know now. Warmer temperatures on land and in the ocean, retreating sea ice and glaciers, thawing permafrost, rapidly changing ecosystems, range expansion of novel species and stress in native species, changing ocean chemistry, and altered seasons all contribute to significant alteration of a region in an extremely compressed timescale. At the same time, globalization and the increasing international interest in the region add new pressures for access, development and geopolitical positioning in the Arctic. Concerns about the implications and impacts of that intensified engagement generate even more anxiety about the transformation to a brand-new Arctic in the 21st Century.