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.
Despite an enormous amount of work done to persuade the world of the dangers of climate change and the need for quick corrective action, there is little progress toward a global compact for managing climate change. In fact, there are some basic differences of perspectives on climate change policies between developed and developing countries which may bedevil future global agreements on climate change for quite some time. Among the reasons for these differences are the issues of historical responsibility for carbon emission by the developed countries, the need for lifestyle changes in both the developed and developing countries, suspicion in the developing countries about the motives of developed countries and too much focus of current discussions on the very long-term and global effects of climate change.
By Akihiro Sawa
This paper seeks to explore the potential of sectoral approaches as a post-Kyoto framework.
The shared understanding of sectoral approaches in the academic community can be outlined as follows:
- Sectoral approaches can potentially engage developing countries in mitigation actions, which would be an accomplishment unachieved by the Kyoto Protocol, and determine politically acceptable national targets anddomestic allowance allocations based on the analysis of reduction potentials from technological perspectives.
- Sectoral approaches are inherently at a disadvantage compared to the Kyoto-type top-down approach with flexibility mechanisms in terms of cost effectiveness and environmental effectiveness.
- Sectoral approach-based negotiations will be substantially complex, encompassing data collection issues and multiple sector-specific negotiation processes. Therefore, they are not cost-effective enough to constitute an international framework and can only be complementary or additional to the Protocol.
Given these drawbacks, this paper will propose the Policy-Based Sectoral Approach, under which sectoral approaches would be employed to establish national emission targets and governments would internationally pledge the implementation of policies and measures to achieve the targets.
"Climate Accession Deals: New Strategies for Taming Growth of Greenhouse Gases in Developing Countries"
"Effective strategies for managing the dangers of global climate change are proving very difficult to design and implement. They require governments to undertake a portfolio of efforts that are politically challenging because they require large expenditures today for uncertain benefits that accrue far into the future. That portfolio includes tasks such as putting a price on carbon, fixing the tendency for firms to under-invest in the public good of new technologies and knowledge that will be needed for achieving cost-effective and deep cuts in emissions; and preparing for a changing climate through investments in adaptation and climate engineering. Many of those efforts require international coordination that has proven especially difficult to mobilize and sustain because international institutions are usually weak and thus unable to force collective action...."
In the Kyoto Protocol, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was set up by Article 12 to achieve two-fold objectives: to help Annex I countries to meet their emission targets in a cost-effective way and to support non-Annex I countries in achieving the goal of sustainable development. Although technology transfer is not a requirement for CDM, experience shows that CDM may contribute significantly to technology transfer. However, it is difficult to induce large-scale technology transfer through CDM in its present form. The project-specific nature of CDM leads to high transaction costs and makes it difficult to create economies of scale and pool risks across projects of the same type. Thus CDM is not effective in attracting more low-carbon investors. The CDM does not address the competitiveness concerns of the private sector in developed countries.This paper addresses these challenging issues by proposing an enhanced CDM regime with greater emphasis on technology transfer from developed countries to developing countries.
"What Do We Expect from an International Climate Agreement? A Perspective from a Low-income Country"
"...[I]t is not clear that emissions trade between developed and developing countries is either feasible or desirable at this juncture. Technological change that lowers the prices of competitors to fossil fuels is the only way out. This can be promoted by regulation, tax, and tradeable permits in developed countries that provide inducements for R&D, and no less importantly, by the direct subsidization of R&D. The bulk of the finance for this will have to come from the developed countries. An international agreement involving developing countries should, at least in the coming round of negotiations, confine itself to promoting technical cooperation between regulators and other entities from all countries. It should include financial support from the developed countries for spreading energy conservation technologies and practices. Tropical agriculture will need a major thrust to develop new varieties that will withstand climate change. The necessary research and development cooperation should be part of the new agreement and needs major funding from developed countries. Research can also include emissions cuts from agricultural sources as long as this is financially well supported so that it does not reduce the funds available for promoting research into agricultural productivity."
"Reconciling Human Development and Climate Protection: Perspectives from Developing Countries on Post-2012 International Climate Change Policy"
By Jing Cao, Former Research Fellow, Environment and Natural Resources Program, 2002-2003
"...[T]his paper provides a new multi-stage climate policy framework based on a revised Global Development Right (GDR) calculation, and proposes a feasible hybrid negotiation framework from the perspective of developing countries. According to the "common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities" principle in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), we recognize that due to the historical emissions contributions and different pace of industrialization and growth around the world, a successful international climate policy needs to balance equity and efficiency and eventually achieve an overall carbon mitigation target."
"Modeling Economic Impacts of Alternative International Climate Policy Architectures: A Quantitative and Comparative Assessment of Architectures for Agreement"
This paper provides a quantitative comparison of the main architectures for an agreement on climate policy. Possible successors to the Kyoto protocol are assessed according to four criteria: economic efficiency; environmental effectiveness; distributional implications; and their political acceptability which is measured in terms of feasibility and enforceability. The ultimate aim is to derive useful information for designing a future agreement on climate change control.
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.
"Metrics for Evaluating Policy Commitments in a Fragmented World: The Challenges of Equity and Integrity"
"Despite the uncertainties about the nature and stringency of national emission reduction commitments, some things are clear: the international negotiations not only will include national targets and timetables, but also will have to take account of diverse policies and measures undertaken by individual nations, including those inside the current Kyoto group, as well as among developing countries. The evaluation of these diverse policies poses a number of challenges. For example, how can one assess the fairness of the relative contributions of different nations? And even if fairness is agreed upon, how is it possible to determine the credibility of the commitments?"
"To estimate the emissions reductions and costs of a climate policy, analysts usually compare a policy scenario with a baseline scenario of future economic conditions without the policy. Both scenarios require assumptions about the future course of numerous factors such as population growth, technical change, and non-climate policies like taxes. The results are only reliable to the extent that the future turns out to be reasonably close to the assumptions that went into the model.
In this paper we examine the effects of unanticipated macroeconomic shocks to growth in developing countries or a global financial crisis on the performance of three climate policy regimes: a globally-harmonized carbon tax; a global cap and trade system; and the McKibbin-Wilcoxen hybrid...."