The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is supporting more than twenty-seven research projects from leading thinkers around the world, including from Europe, China, Japan, India, Australia, and the United States. These projects range in topic from complete architectures to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, to proposed solutions to specific problems climate negotiators face, such as facilitating technology transfer to developing countries, preventing deforestation, and enforcing a global climate agreement.
The research papers will go live on our website as they are received by the Project, and announcements will be sent out via email.
"A Voting Architecture for the Governance of Free-Driver Externalities, with Application to Geoengineering"
Climate change is a global "free rider" problem because significant abatement of greenhouse gases is an expensive public good requiring international cooperation to apportion compliance among states. But it is also a global "free driver" problem because geoengineering the stratosphere with reflective particles to block incoming solar radiation is so cheap that it could essentially be undertaken unilaterally by one state perceiving itself to be in peril.
"The Role of Border Carbon Adjustment in Unilateral Climate Policy: Insights from a Model-Comparison Study"
A new Harvard-Project Discussion Paper examines the relationships between domestic climate policy and trade. The study compares the output of a range of economic models, using the methodology of the Energy Modeling Forum (EMF).
In a new discussion paper, authors Richard Schmalensee, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Robert N. Stavins, director of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, explore four ironic outcomes associated with the otherwise very successful sulfur-dioxide cap-and-trade system created by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
A treaty satisfies what we call International Paretianism if it advances the interests of all states that join it, so that no state is made worse off. The principle might seem obvious, but it rules out nearly all the major proposals for a climate treaty, including proposals advanced by academics and by government officials. We defend International Paretianism, and for that reason urge commentators in the debate over climate justice to abandon efforts to right past wrongs, redistribute wealth, and achieve other abstract ideals through a climate treaty
The outcome of the December 2011 United Nations climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, provides an important new opportunity to move toward an international climate policy architecture that is capable of delivering broad international participation and significant global CO2 emissions reductions at reasonable cost. We evaluate one important component of potential climate policy architecture for the post-Durban era: links among independent tradable permit systems for greenhouse gases.
"A successful international climate policy framework will have to meet two conditions, build a coalition of countries that is potentially effective and give each member country sufficient incentives to join and remain in this coalition. Such coalition should be capable of delivering ambitious emission reduction even if some countries do not take mitigation action. In addition, it should meet the target without exceedingly high mitigation costs and deliver a net benefit to member countries as a whole. The novel contribution of this paper is mostly methodological, but it also adds a better qualification of well-known results that are policy relevant."
In a new Harvard Project Discussion Paper, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei's Valentina Bosetti and Enrica De Cian model the behavior of countries not participating in a cooperative climate regime. The regime imposes counterbalancing influences upon these countries, but under some conditions they may act to both reduce emissions and increase clean-energy R&D
By Joseph E. Aldy, Faculty Affiliate, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements and Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government; Member of the Board; Director, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
Market-approaches to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases lie at the heart of any cost-effective set of policies put forward in an international agreement—and will be considered at COP 17 in Durban in both the Kyoto and Long-term Cooperative Action discussions. Joseph Aldy and Robert Stavins "examine the opportunities and challenges associated with the major options for carbon pricing: carbon taxes, cap‐and‐trade, emission reduction credits, clean energy standards, and fossil fuel subsidy reductions."
Geoengineering grows in salience, the more time that passes without an effective international regime for mitigating climate change. It will be in the background of negotiations at COP 17 in Durban—and, perhaps, in the foreground of some important discussions. This discussion paper by Daniel Bodansky explores the opportunities and risks presented by geoengineering, as well as the particular challenges to crafting an effective system of governance for this set of approaches to addressing climate change
"Sustainable Cooperation in Global Climate Policy: Specific Formulas and Emission Targets to Build on Copenhagen and Cancun"
In pursuit of a workable successor to the Kyoto Protocol, this study offers a framework of formulas that produces precise numerical targets for emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, in all regions of the world in all decades of this century....Firms, consumers, and researchers base their current decisions to invest in plant and equipment, consumer durables, or new technological possibilities on the expected future price of carbon: If government commitments are not credible from the start, then they will not raise the expected future carbon price.