By Laura Diaz Anadon, Assistant Professor of Public Policy; Associate Director, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program; Co-PI, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, Valentina Bosetti, Gabe Chan, Research Fellow, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, Gregory Nemet, Former Visiting Scholar, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program/Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, January–June 2011 and Elena Verdolini
Characterizing the future performance of energy technologies can improve the development of energy policies that have net benefits under a broad set of future conditions. In particular, decisions about public investments in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) that promote technological change can benefit from (1) an explicit consideration of the uncertainty inherent in the innovation process and (2) a systematic evaluation of the tradeoffs in investment allocations across different technologies. To shed light on these questions, over the past five years several groups in the United States and Europe have conducted expert elicitations and modeled the resulting societal benefits. In this paper, the authors discuss the lessons learned from the design and implementation of these initiatives.
The Harvard-Tsinghua Workshop on Market Mechanisms to Achieve a Low-Carbon Future for China explored both the opportunities and challenges for market-oriented climate, technology, and water resources policy in China. The workshop convened prominent members of the academic and policy communities from China, the United States, and Europe at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, on June 3-4, 2014.
October 20, 2014
"How the international safeguards regime can benefit from efforts to enhance the identification method used for UF6 cylinders"
By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Improvements to the current methods used by nuclear industry to track and identify uranium hexafluoride (UF6) cylinders would benefit International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, nuclear inspectorates, and regulatory authorities, as well as facility operators. A move towards a standardized UF6 cylinder identifier is gaining momentum within industry. A National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) team has analyzed how a cylinder identification and monitoring system could be useful to IAEA safeguards and has also engaged industry stakeholders to seek feedback on concepts related to unique cylinder identification and monitoring. While industry initiative is central to developing a system for identifying UF6 cylinders, the IAEA has been monitoring the maturation of identification/tracking technologies in support of possible safeguards use at facilities at the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle.
October 10, 2014
By Melissa Hathaway, Senior Advisor, Project on Technology, Security, and Conflict in the Cyber Age
"Cybersecurity is a major concern at companies of all sizes and has a measureable impact on many facets of operations, and certainly profitability. Yet the scale of that impact is often obscured or lost in translation. Unless directors can cut through the technical jargon in what are often massive amounts of information they receive, the size of the risk and the steps to mitigate it may not be clear. Instead, Hathaway says, the risks need to be translated into a language most directors know well: dollars and cents."
October 10, 2014
Boards are increasingly taking responsibility for cybersecurity because they recognize it for what it is: the latest form of risk, which, while in a new guise, must be managed with the same diligence and processes applied to other risks. Since most boards lack specific cybersecurity expertise we recommend several avenues to getting that crucial input and, importantly, translating it from tech-talk to the language of business most directors understand.
October 9, 2014
Project on Middle East Political Science
By Tarek Masoud, Faculty Affiliate, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
"The scholarly literature has long argued that one of the reasons that parties like the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt are able to earn the loyalties of voters is through their provision of health, welfare, and educational services that the cash-strapped states of the Arab world are increasingly unable (or unwilling) to provide. However, in recent years, the provision of social services by Islamist parties has gone from being an explanation of Islamist success to something to be explained in itself."
Small Wars and Insurgencies, issue 5-6, volume 25
By Ches Thurber, Research Fellow, International Security Program
"The Shia militia has emerged as one of the most powerful and important actors in the Middle East security environment. Despite this trend, they remain poorly understood by scholars and policymakers alike. This article seeks to expand our understanding of the militia as a type of non-state armed group through an examination of Shia militia movements in Iraq between 2003 and 2009."
Environment Systems and Decisions
The frequency and severity of many types of extreme weather events may be changing because of climate change. To date, most vulnerability studies and resulting toolkits for decision makers, while state of the art, only address a specific subset of possible extreme weather events and mitigation and adaptation efforts. This paper extends Haddon's strategies to facilitate a holistic, systematic analysis of the options that communities have to cope with uncertain impacts from multiple hazards in multiple sector of society. This framework distinguishes between efforts to reduce the hazard, the exposure, and the vulnerability, thus helping end the semantic confusion of the meaning of adaptation and mitigation.
Environmental Science and Technology
By Chao Zhang, Former Giorgio Ruffolo Fellow, Sustainability Science Program/Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, 2012–July 2013, Laura Diaz Anadon, Assistant Professor of Public Policy; Associate Director, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program; Co-PI, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, Hongpin Mo, Zhongnan Zhao and Zhu Liu, Giorgio Ruffolo Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sustainability Science Program/Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group
The energy sector is increasingly facing water scarcity constraints in many regions around the globe, especially in China, where the unprecedented large-scale construction of coal-fired thermal power plants is taking place in its extremely arid northwest regions. As a response to water scarcity, air-cooled coal power plants have experienced dramatic diffusion in China since middle 2000s. By the end of 2012, air-cooled coal-fired thermal power plants in China amounted to 112 GW, making up 14% of China's thermal power generation capacity. But the water conservation benefit of air-cooled units is achieved at the cost of lower thermal efficiency and consequently higher carbon emissions intensity.
"Facilitating Linkage of Heterogeneous Regional, National, and Sub-National Climate Policies Through a Future International Agreement"
Linkage among emissions-reduction systems can reduce cost and advance equity, enhancing the chances for success of a new 2015 climate agreement.