Established in 2007, the goal of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is to help identify and advance scientifically sound, economically rational, and politically pragmatic public policy options for addressing global climate change. Drawing upon leading thinkers in Argentina, Australia, China, Europe, India, Japan, and the United States, the Project conducts research on policy architecture, key design elements, and institutional dimensions of international and domestic climate policy.
The Kyoto Protocol marked the first attempt to curb the greenhouse-gas emissions that are changing the Earth's climate. Some observers have supported the policy approach embodied in Kyoto, which limited emissions during the period 2008–2012. Others have maintained that a fundamentally new approach is required. The Eighteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Doha, Qatar in late 2012, extended the Kyoto Protocol, for another eight years, through 2020—although with a smaller group of countries reducing emissions.
A year earlier at COP-17 in South Africa, national delegations adopted the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which represents a potential milestone in the evolution of an international regime to address the problem of global climate change. The Platform calls for the Conference of the Parties to adopt a new agreement by 2015, at COP-21 in Paris, which would come into force by 2020. This new regime will depart from Kyoto in that all major-emitting countries will have (voluntarily-specified) obligations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, rather than only the industrialized countries. The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is engaging leading scholars and policy practitioners to identify and assess research-based options that will be useful to policy makers and negotiators as they design the 2015 Paris agreement.
The Durban Platform is, however, only a sketch of a new climate regime; much work must be done to determine the architecture and design elements of a post-2020 agreement. The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is engaging leading scholars and policy practitioners to identify and assess research-based options that will be useful to policy makers and negotiators as they build upon the Durban Platform.
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As of January 2015, the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements had released 69 Discussion Papers, three edited books (published by Cambridge University Press), and a number of policy briefs, all written by leading scholars in the fields of economics, political science, international relations, and law. These documents are posted on the Project's website. Examples of topics addressed by Project authors are:
- Options for designing a policy architecture for global climate change
- Methods for comparing the ambition and effectiveness of mitigation pledges in a voluntary climate-policy regime
- Incentives for compliance and participation in an international agreement
- Equity and justice in international climate agreements
- Options for institutional venues for negotiating and implementing international climate change policy
- Interaction between international, national, and sub-national climate policy
- Linkage among emissions trading systems
The Harvard Project has conducted research workshops in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Venice, Italy, and Berlin, Germany—for Project authors and other scholars studying climate change policy. The Harvard Project has collaborated with leading research institutes focusing on environmental economics and policy: Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, based in Venice and Milan; the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, in Berlin; and Resources for the Future, in Washington, D.C.
The Project has conducted numerous roundtables and workshops for policy makers and stakeholders, in Brussels, Washington, D.C., Canberra, Rome, London, Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, Mexico City, Beijing, and Doha. Summaries are available on the Project's website.
The Project has conducted policy-outreach meetings at the Thirteenth (Bali, Indonesia), Fourteenth (Poznan, Poland), Fifteenth (Copenhagen, Denmark), and Sixteenth (Cancun, Mexico), Eighteenth (Doha, Qatar), and Nineteenth (Warsaw, Poland), and Twentieth (Lima, Peru) COPs. At the COPs—and at intermediate U.N. negotiating sessions—Project leaders have also held meetings with individual negotiating teams from over 50 countries. At all of these meetings, the Project receives valuable insights, suggestions, and feedback with regard to international climate change policy.
ABOUT THE PROJECT'S DIRECTOR
Robert Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government and Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, as well as a University Fellow of Resources for the Future and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He has been a Coordinating Lead Author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Chair of the U.S. EPA's Environmental Economics Advisory Committee. His research has examined climate strategies, cap-and-trade systems, carbon sequestration, and technology innovation and diffusion.
The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is grateful to the Harvard University Center for the Environment for generous current support. The Harvard Project also receives support from Christopher P. Kaneb (Harvard AB 1990); ClimateWorks Foundation; the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Hui Research Fund for Generating Powerful Ideas at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation (The Belfer and Ash Centers are located at the Harvard Kennedy School.)
The closely affiliated, University-wide Harvard Environmental Economics Program receives additional support from the Enel Endowment for Environmental Economics at Harvard University, the Enel Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, Bank of America, BP, Castleton Commodities International LLC, Chevron Services Company, Duke Energy Corporation, and Shell.
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