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. This paper addresses an important component of potential climate policy architecture for the post-Durban era: links among independent tradable permit systems for greenhouse gases.
Gasoline taxes can be employed to correct externalities associated with automobile use in order to reduce dependency on foreign oil and raise government revenue. This paper examines how gasoline taxes affect consumer behavior as distinct from tax-exclusive gasoline prices. It suggests that traditional analysis could significantly underestimate policy impacts of tax changes and discusses the implications of these findings.
This paper uses housing market data to estimate the welfare costs of shoreline loss along coastal beaches in Florida. The work examines homeowners' willingness to pay for an extra foot of sand and then addresses how changes in beach width generally have little impact on housing prices. The results imply that the welfare costs of sea level rise may be low up to a threshold, and then increase sharply.
Expanding estimates of North America’s supply of accessible shale gas, and more recently, shale oil, have been trumpeted in many circles as the most significant energy resource development since the oil boom in Texas in the late 1920s. How large are these resources? What challenges will need to be overcome if their potential is to be realized? How will they impact U.S. energy policy?
To address these questions, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and two of its programs ― the Environment and Natural Resources Program and the Geopolitics of Energy Project ― convened a group of experts from business, government, and academia on May 1, 2012, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The following report summarizes the major issues discussed at this workshop. Since the discussions were off-the-record, no comments are attributed to any individual. Rather, this report attempts to summarize the arguments on all sides of the issues.
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.
By Leonardo Maugeri, Associate, Environment and Natural Resources Program/Geopolitics of Energy Project
A new study by Belfer Center Geopolitics of Energy researcher Leonardo Maugeri finds that oil production capacity is surging in the United States and several other countries at such a fast pace that global oil output capacity is likely to grow by nearly 20 percent by 2020. This could prompt a plunge or even a collapse in oil prices. The findings by Maugeri, a former oil industry executive who is now a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, are based on an original field-by-field analysis of the world’s major oil formations and exploration projects.
"Perceptions and Narratives of Security: The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iran-Iraq War"
By Annie Tracy Samuel, Research Fellow, International Security Program
This paper explores the importance of the Iran-Iraq War for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) by analyzing how the Guards have used the war to present their positions on Iran's national security.
By Ethan Corbin, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2011–2013
This paper examines the state of Syria's regional armed group allies today in the face of Syrian decline.