By Balachandra Patil, Former Research Fellow, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program/Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, 2009–2010
Expanding energy access to the rural population of India presents a critical challenge for its government. The presence of about 364 million people without access to electricity and about 726 million who rely on biomass for cooking indicate both the failure of past policies and programs, and the dire need is for a radical redesign of the current system that will address the need to expand energy access for these people.
Because forests play a critical role in the global carbon cycle, the international community is actively pursuing policies and programs to increase the amount of carbon stored in forests. Recent estimates suggest that forestry could contribute an average 6.7 billion tons of emissions reductions annually, with over two-thirds of this potential coming from tropical nations. Making full use of the forest carbon sink is appealing to both the developed and the developing world. Developed nations see forest carbon projects as a low-cost option for mitigating climate change. For the developing world, forest carbon payments could provide a sustainable source of much-needed income. At the most recent climate negotiation talks in Copenhagen, even as negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions limits stalled, the parties moved closer to a framework agreement on forest carbon.
This paper describes and evaluates the system for trading CO2 emission permits introduced by the European Union to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to help abate climate change. This system represents a live example of a functioning trading system under the so-called cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
This paper reexamines responsibility for climate change. Claims of responsibility are based on legal and ethical principles concerning liability for wrongdoing. They are, in essence, tort claims. Tort-law principles might be used in actual legal disputes, to make quasi-legal arguments in a negotiation, or to simply claim moral wrongdoing by a set of actors. The goal, therefore, will be to examine whether tort-law or similar theories of obligation apply to past greenhouse gas emissions
If negotiations at COP 17 in Durban fail to produce an agreement on a Kyoto second-commitment period and on a broader climate regime, linking national climate policies would become more salient as a possible de facto international climate regime. Linking cap-and-trade systems is relatively straightforward, but linking disparate policies is harder. Metcalf and Weisbach address the linkage of heterogeneous climate policies.
By Sheila M. Olmstead, Former Research Fellow, Environment and Natural Resources Program, 2001–2002 and Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government; Member of the Board; Director, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
We describe three essential elements of an effective post-2012 international global climate policy architecture: a means to ensure that key industrialized and developing nations are involved in differentiated but meaningful ways; an emphasis on an extended time path of targets; and inclusion of flexible market-based policy instruments to keep costs down and facilitate international equity. This architecture is consistent with fundamental aspects of the science, economics, and politics of global climate change; addresses specific shortcomings of the Kyoto Protocol; and builds upon the foundation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Federal action addressing climate change is likely to emerge either through new legislation or via the U.S. EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act. The prospect of federal action raises important questions regarding the interconnections between federal efforts and state-level climate policy developments. In the presence of federal policies, to what extent will state efforts be costeffective? How does the co-existence of state- and federal-level policies affect the ability of state efforts to achieve emissions reductions?
The authors compare the targets and actions to which countries have committed under the Copenhagen Accord. The Accord allows participating countries to express their commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions in a variety of ways—most broadly, through economy-wide quantified emissions targets for developed countries and mitigation "actions" by developing countries. These are difficult to compare. However, even mitigation commitments that look similar can require very different levels of effort in different countries, and commitments that produce similar economic outcomes can look inequitable. These variations in effort and equity depend on historical patterns of energy use, marginal costs of greenhouse-gas abatement, choice of base year, methods for determining "business as usual" projections, and other factors.
By David Ekbladh, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2009–2010
With the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the "War on Terror" that followed, development aid was shoved back into the spotlight. Many ideas and institutions that had lain dormant in international affairs, insinuated their return into U.S. strategy and the agenda of the international community. "Nation building" in Afghanistan and Iraq along with a hope that development would stifle the appeal of extremist ideologies and the movements that they stirred has returned development to a prominent place in U.S. grand strategy.
April 14, 2010
The Dominican Republic is well positioned to benefit from the development of an ethanol industry. It has adequate land resources and, under favorable market conditions, can produce ethanol cost-competitively for both domestic consumption and export. The circumstances of the Dominican Republic are common to many developing nations considering biofuels development. The framework approach used in this paper and its conclusions may be applicable to biofuels initiatives in other developing nations.