Environment & Climate Change

14 Items

Emissions from coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H.

AP

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

The United States and the Paris Agreement: A Pivotal Moment

| April 2017

The authors break down the reasons for the United States to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement, arguing that the benefits far outweigh any potential costs. The Agreement gives the United States a seat at the table, and the ability to influence international policy on climate change, showing that the United States is open and willing to cooperate.

The world's first full-scale floating wind turbine, assembled in the Åmøy Fjord near Stavanger, Norway. Norway made the most ambitious pledge for voluntary carbon cuts through 2020.

Lars Christopher

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

A Pre-Lima Scorecard for Evaluating which Countries are Doing Their Fair Share in Pledged Carbon Cuts

| November 2014

The authors explore a novel approach to evaluating the ambition and fairness of countries' voluntary pledges to reduce emissions. This approach could facilitate negotiations at the upcoming UN climate conference in Lima—and the broader process leading to a new 2015 international climate agreement.

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

A Climate Diplomacy Proposal: Carbon Pricing Consultations

    Authors:
  • Adele Morris
  • Warwick McKibbin
  • Peter Wilcoxen
| February 2013

The United States has considerable tax administration and cap-and-trade expertise that could highlight potentially successful carbon pricing approaches. Although this experience is not climate-related, the United States deploys an efficient and highly compliant excise tax system, and it could assist developing country efforts to build their own capacity to tax carbon. The United States also has long experience with cap-and-trade systems for criteria air pollutants, much of which is transferable to greenhouse-gas emissions trading.

The United Kingdom's Chris Huhne, then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, speaks at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's 17th Conference of the Parties in Durban, South Africa, Dec 8, 2011.

AP Photo

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

The Durban Platform Negotiations: Goals and Options

    Author:
  • Daniel Bodansky
| July 2012

In December 2011, parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which launched a new round of negotiations aimed at developing "a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force" for the post-2020 period. The Durban Platform negotiations got underway this year and are scheduled to conclude in 2015. This Viewpoint analyzes the elements of the Durban Platform and the possible role that a new instrument might play.

South Africa's Minister of International Relations & Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabaneat at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin, July 3, 2011. International delegations met for 2 days to prepare the upcoming UN climate conference in Durban.

AP Photo

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

Whither the Kyoto Protocol? Durban and Beyond

    Author:
  • Daniel Bodansky
| August 2011

The Kyoto Protocol establishes a very complex and ambitious regime, in architecture if not stringency. The problem is that relatively few states, representing only about a quarter of the world's emissions, have been willing to assume emission targets under Kyoto....The future of the Protocol thus seems doubtful at best. Even in the most optimistic scenario, a new round of emissions targets couldn't be agreed in time to prevent a legal gap between the first and second commitment periods. A possible middle ground would be to establish a transitional regime that would be political in nature, but that could evolve over time into a legally-binding regime.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, center, upon his arrival in Bangalore, India, Dec. 4, 2010. Sarkozy arrived on a 4-day visit to sign agreements to set up nuclear power plants in India and jointly develop satellites to study climate change.

AP Photo

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

Towards a Breakthrough for Deadlocked Climate Change Negotiations

    Author:
  • Akihiro Sawa
| December 2010

With regard to developing a new international framework, developed countries should acknowledge how grave the consequences would be to easily give in to a Kyoto extension. Merely extending the Kyoto Protocol would surely delay mitigation actions on the part of developing countries and discourage the U.S. from making serious efforts to reduce its large energy consumption. In other words, no country should end up being a "climate-killer" in its attempts to avoid being called a "Kyoto-killer."

Mexican President Felipe Calderon delivers his speech on "Preserving Our Common Heritage: Promoting a Fair Agreement on Climate Change" during a lecture at the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 2, 2010.

AP Photo

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

Institutions for International Climate Governance

    Author:
  • Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
| November 2010

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has significant advantages but also real challenges as a venue for international negotiations on climate change policy. In the wake of the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-15) in Copenhagen, December 2009, it is important to reflect on institutional options going forward for negotiating and implementing climate change policy.

Sept. 1, 2010:  A coal-fired power plant emits smoke during the night in Changchun, China. Widely seen as an obstacle in the Copenhagen climate summit, China spent $34.6 billion on clean energy in 2009, nearly double the U.S. investment.

AP Photo

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

The International Climate Change Regime: The Road from Copenhagen

    Author:
  • Daniel Bodansky
| October 2010

"...[T]he Copenhagen Accord is "only" a political agreement, so it does not provide sufficient assurance that countries will take action. But how much difference does it make that the Copenhagen Accord is a political rather than a legal agreement? Obviously, political agreements do not require domestic ratification, so they provide a weaker signal of domestic commitment. But the legal versus non-legal form of an instrument makes less of a difference in other respects, such as judicial enforcement, since even when an agreement is legally-binding, there are relatively few opportunities for adjudication either internationally or domestically. And evidence from other regimes suggests that states often take non-binding agreements quite seriously and make significant efforts to implement them."

Cattle graze in front of wind turbines of the Spanish utility Endesa in the Eolico Park, Spain, Aug. 3, 2006.

AP Photo

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

Toward a Post-2012 International Climate Agreement

    Author:
  • Fulvio Conti
| March 2010

Negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Copenhagen in December 2009 did not produce a new international treaty with binding emissions commitments, but have defined a roadmap for dealing with global climate change in the post-2012 era. As countries continue to pursue new models for global agreement, it will be important to learn from the weaknesses of past approaches, while building on positive aspects of the experience with the Kyoto Protocol so far.