Environment & Climate Change

12 Items

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.

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

Treaty Design and Duration: Effects on R&D, Participation, and Compliance

    Author:
  • Bard Harstad
| January 2013

Climate policy is complicated. For a treaty to be beneficial, one must think through carefully how it will work, once it is implemented. Crucial questions include the following: How should an international treaty be designed? Should one negotiate commitments for a five-year period, or for much longer? Assuming that the treaty specifies aggregate or country-specific emission caps, what should these caps be and how should they change over time? How should the agreement be updated once policymakers, scholars, and the public learn more about the severity of the climate-change problem, or about the effects of the policy? Can the treaty be designed to encourage investments in "green" abatement technology or renewable energy sources? Finally, how can one motivate countries to participate and comply with such an agreement?

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.

12th Summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, COMESA, at the United Nations Complex in Nairobi, Kenya, May 22, 2007. Leaders of Africa's largest trade bloc discuss a timetable for creating a 20-state customs union.

AP Photo

Policy Brief - Science, Technology, and Globalization Project, Belfer Center

Africa Can Feed Itself in a Generation

| January 2011

African agriculture is at a crossroads. Persistent food shortages are now being compounded by new threats arising from climate change. But Africa also has three major opportunities that can help transform its agriculture to be a force for economic growth. First, advances in science, technology, and engineering worldwide offer Africa new tools needed to promote sustainable agriculture. Second, efforts to create regional markets will provide new incentives for agricultural production and trade. Third, a new generation of African leaders is helping the continent focus on long-term economic transformation.

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.

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.

Ships anchor near the entrance of the Long Beach Harbor on Aug. 25, 2004. Marine terminal operators at the largest U.S. port revealed a plan to expand their cargo operations into the evening and weekend hours to ease traffic congestion & GHG emissions.

AP Photo

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

The São Paulo Proposal for an Improved International Climate Agreement

    Author:
  • Erik Haites
| January 2010

An effective international climate agreement poses formidable challenges. Existing agreements, naturally, have some good features. Further improvements are being discussed in the current negotiations. But the cost and uncertainty associated with regular renegotiation of commitments is not being addressed. The São Paulo Proposal suggests mechanisms that would avoid the need for regular renegotiation of commitments and suggests other ways to make international climate agreements more effective.

The room where G8 leaders met in L'Aquila, Italy, July 7, 2009. Leaders of developing countries that emit the most GHGs join the world's wealthiest states at the G8 summit to try to unblock troubled climate negotiations.

AP Photo

Policy Brief - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, Belfer Center

Rules for Negotiating and Updating Climate Treaties

    Author:
  • Bard Harstad
| August 27, 2009

A climate treaty is characterized by a large number of parameters: What should the abatement or emission levels be? How should the burden to abate be distributed across countries? What should the time profile for the emission levels be? Should there be issue linkages with other policy areas? Should there be any side transfers between some countries and, if so, what should the transfers be? This richness in parameters implies that there is a lot to decide and negotiate before the final climate treaty is ready.

Moreover, there is great uncertainty regarding the future costs and benefits of abatement. Today, it is not yet known how much abatement will be desirable in the future. This means that any climate treaty must be updated, or renegotiated, quite frequently in the coming years. The realized climate policies depend on future international negotiations—and the rules governing these.