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Bard Harstad



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July 2015

"Designing Climate Treaties: Technological Innovation and Duration of Commitment"

Policy Brief

By Bard Harstad

Recent research in economics shows how not to design climate treaties—and suggests how to get it right.



January 2013

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

Policy Brief

By Bard Harstad

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?



AP Photo

December 3, 2009

"Trade Could Hold the Key to a Climate Deal"

Op-Ed, Financial Times

By Bard Harstad

"Implementing such a linkage is possible. The Montreal Protocol, successfully protecting the ozone layer, is already restricting trade with non-participants and non-compliers, although only in the substances controlled by the treaty. To repeat this success and overcome the obstacles for a climate agreement, signatories should become favoured trading partners while non-compliance should trigger a temporary denial of this status. Disputes can be solved by expanding the mandate of the WTO's dispute settlement body or another mediator."



AP Photo

August 27, 2009

"Rules for Negotiating and Updating Climate Treaties"

Policy Brief

By Bard Harstad

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.



July 2009

"The Dynamics of Climate Agreements"

Discussion Paper

By Bard Harstad

This paper provides a novel dynamic model of private provision of public goods. The agents can also invest in cost-reducing technologies but, nevertheless, the Markov-Perfect Equilibrium (MPE) is unique and the analysis tractable. The non-cooperative outcome is compared to scenarios where the agents can contract on contributions investment), and the optimal contract is derived.

While the model fits a variety of contexts, the policy implications for climate agree- ments are particularly important. Environmental agreements (e.g. the Kyoto protocol) are typically specifying emissions but not investments in technology, since such e¤orts would be hard to verify. They often have a limited time horizon and future commitments remain to be negotiated.



November 2008

"How to Negotiate and Update Climate Agreements"

Discussion Paper

By Bard Harstad

Any climate change agreement ought to be negotiated and updated later on, as we learn more about the costs and benefits of abatements. Anticipating such negotiations, countries may distort domestic decisions (regarding R&D and adaptation, for example) trying to increase their future bargaining power. This can make a situation with an agreement worse than no agreement at all — unless one specifies rules governing the negotiation process. This paper argues that harmonization and the use of formulas, the time span for the agreement, the default outcome if the negotiations should fail, the voting rule and a minimum participation requirement can all be efficiency enhancing rules. Each rule would be more credible and efficient if the climate agreement is linked to a trade agreement, since that would discourage members from opting out or free-riding if they should be adversely affected by the rules.

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.