Reports & Papers

29 Items

Discussion Paper - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Creating Subnational Climate Institutions in China

| December 2019

This discussion paper (available in English and Chinese) describes the evolution of decentralization over the reform period that began in China in 1978, different theories of institutional change in China, and how the empirical and theoretical literatures help scholars and policymakers understand the development of institutions for governing GHG-emitting activities.

A prototype Tesla Semi truck at Tesla HQ in California, April 22, 2019.

Flickr/Steve Jurveston

Paper - Environment and Natural Resources Program, Belfer Center

Environmental Implications and Policy Challenges for Bringing Long-Haul Electric Trucks into China: The Case of the Tesla Semi

    Author:
  • Jonathan M. Moch
| July 2019

The Tesla Semi is a battery powered electric long haul truck currently in the prototype phase. Since cost and technological barriers have prevented electric vehicles from making significant inroads into the market for long haul trucks, the announcement of the Tesla Semi marks one of the first major attempts to bring electrification to on-road long haul freight transport. China, as the world’s largest carbon emitter, is an important market for truck electrification. China has a bourgeoning passenger electric vehicle market but, like the rest of the world, is reliant on heavily polluting diesel trucks for on-road freight transport. 

This paper addresses two main questions:

  1. What are the potential impacts on carbon emissions of electric long haul trucks in China? 
  2. What are the barriers to the adoption of electric long haul trucks in China? 

A man prepares to charge his electric-powered vehicle parked at a shopping mall in Beijing, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.

AP Photo/Andy Wong

Paper - Environment and Natural Resources Program, Belfer Center

The Role of Electric Vehicles in Decarbonizing China’s Transportation Sector

| April 2019

This paper focuses on the deep decarbonization of the transportation sector. The first part of the paper provides an assessment of China’s efforts to stimulate the rapid deployment of electric vehicles. The second part analyzes the CO2 equivalent reductions from a 20% electric vehicle deployment scenario. It concludes that under most assumptions, emissions will be reduced, but the total reduction will be less than many people believe due to the carbon intensity of battery manufacturing.

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).

NASA

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.

A satellite view of the Gansu Dunhuang Solar Park, a photovoltaic power station under construction in Gansu Provence, as seen on June 9, 2018.

DigitalGlobe, CNES/Airbus, Google Earth, used with permission

Report - Environment and Natural Resources Program, Belfer Center

Harvard-Tsinghua Workshop on Low-Carbon Development and Public Policy

| September 2018

The Belfer Center’s Environment and Natural Resources Program and the Center for Science, Technology, and Education Policy at Tsinghua University held the fifth annual Tsinghua-Harvard Workshop on Low-Carbon Development and Public Policy. This event brought together leading experts on climate and energy from academic, business, and government communities in both the United States and China. This year’s workshop focused on electricity systems and renewable energy penetration.

Report

Foundations of Decarbonization in China: A Post-2030 Perspective

| July 2017

The Harvard-Tsinghua Workshop on Low-Carbon Development and Public Policy is the fourth annual joint workshop between the Harvard Kennedy School’s Environment and Natural Resources Program and the Center for Science, Technology, and Education Policy at Tsinghua University. The workshop convened leading experts on climate and energy from the United States and China at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, on June 1-2, 2017.

The workshop was divided into five sessions. The first two sessions focused on the scope of the climate problem and the options for addressing it. The following three sessions explored specific options: renewable energy, nuclear power, and air pollution regulation.

Discussion Paper - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

Federal Coal Program Reform, the Clean Power Plan, and the Interaction of Upstream and Downstream Climate Policies

    Authors:
  • Todd D. Gerarden
  • W. Spencer Reeder
  • James Stock
| June 2016

Can supply-side environmental policies that limit the extraction of fossil fuels reduce CO2 emissions? We study interactions between a specific supply-side policy — an environmental charge on federal coal — and demand-side emissions regulation under the Clean Power Plan (CPP). Using a detailed dynamic model of the power sector, we estimate that, absent the CPP, an environmental charge equal to the social cost of carbon would generate three-quarters of the projected CPP emissions reductions. With the CPP in place, the charge reduces emissions by reducing leakage and causing the CPP to be non-binding in some scenarios.

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

The Cost of Reprocessing in China

| January 2016

Faced with the twin pressures of a still-quickly growing economy and unprecedented smog from coal-fired plants, China is racing to expand its fleet of nuclear power plants. As it does so, Beijing is considering making large capital investments in facilities to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and recycle the resulting plutonium in fast neutron reactors that breed more plutonium. This report outlines the enormous costs China would likely face if it decides to build large-scale plants for reprocessing plutonium from spent nuclear fuel and recycling the plutonium in fast neutron reactors.

Discussion Paper - Energy Technology Innovation Policy Project, Belfer Center

Electricity Technology Investments under Solar RD&D Uncertainty: How Interim Learning and Adaptation Affect the Optimal Decision Strategy

| December 2014

The authors present a new modeling framework for studying optimal generating capacity and public RD&D investments in the electricity sector under decision-dependent RD&D uncertainty and learning.