Plants draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, sequestering the carbon in biomass and thus helping to mitigate climate change. This mitigation has an economic value commensurate with reduced damages from climate change. However, the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) has not calculated the carbon-sequestration benefits provided by the 84 million acres of land it manages, even though 85% of this land is vegetated.
The NPS has a dual mission—to foster both tourism ("visitation" to those researching this topic) and land stewardship. Measuring the value of carbon sequestration would complement ongoing attempts to measure the economic value of tourism by providing an initial estimate of the economic importance of one component of the NPS's stewardship obligations.
"The Role of Border Carbon Adjustment in Unilateral Climate Policy: Insights from a Model-Comparison Study—Summary"
In the absence of an effective global agreement to reduce carbon emissions, some industrialized countries have taken unilateral action to reduce emissions. However, unilateral carbon policy can lead to leakage of carbon emissions and precludes abating emissions where such abatement would be least expensive (possibly in other countries). Border carbon adjustment (BCA) is one policy option to mitigate these two disadvantages of unilateral action, but the effectiveness of these measures remains unclear. Comparing the results of simulated carbon policy and BCA in multiple computable general equilibrium (CGE) models of the global economy offers several estimates of the effectiveness of BCA.
By Charles L Glaser, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 1982–1985; Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security
A grand bargain would not constitute the entirety of U.S. policy toward China. Unilateral measures and alliances would remain essential components of U.S. policy. When uncertain about a state's motives and goals, a state should pursue a mix of cooperative and competitive policies.
July 15, 2015
By Gary Samore, Executive Director for Research, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
The July 14, 2015 comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) consists of the agreement itself and five technical annexes: Annex I – Nuclear-related measures; Annex 2 – Sanctions-related commitments; Annex III- Civil Nuclear Cooperation; Annex IV – Joint Commission; and Annex V – Implementation Plan. The version issued by the EU is used here because pages and paragraphs are numbered in proper order.
This article describes the main elements of the JCPOA. In coming days, the Belfer Center plans to publish a more detailed description and assessment of the agreement.
By Bard Harstad
Recent research in economics shows how not to design climate treaties—and suggests how to get it right.
Emitting carbon dioxide (CO2 )—and other greenhouse gases—imposes a cost on society because it contributes to damages from climate change. This "social cost" is also known as an "externality," in that the emitter does not bear this cost. The "Social Cost of Carbon" (SCC), then, is the "marginal monetized externality value" of damages from CO2 emissions, where "marginal" refers to the next incremental unit of emissions. As damages from climate change become more evident, it becomes increasingly useful in formulating public policy (especially in connection with attendant benefit-cost analysis of that policy) to employ an SCC—that is, a numerical, non-zero value for climate damages. This paper examines the process in the U.S. government of specifying an SCC.
By Nickolas Roth, Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
The United States and Russia are the two countries with the vast majority of the world's nuclear weapons and material. In an age of global terrorism, they share both a special responsibility in ensuring that they each employ effective nuclear security systems and an understanding of the unique challenge of securing hundreds of tons of nuclear material. For two decades, the United States and Russia lived up to this responsibility by working together to strengthen nuclear security in Russia and around the globe. That ended in 2014 when Russia halted the majority of its work on nuclear security with the United States. The negative consequences of that decision could seriously affect international security and cooperation in the nuclear realm.
June 16, 2015
This April, the United States assumed the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The Belfer Center Environment and Natural Resources Program is releasing a series of policy briefs on the issues relating to the Arctic. This brief, focusing on security issues, is the first in this series.
"Why Finance Ministers Favor Carbon Taxes, Even if They Do Not Take Climate Change into Account—Summary"
It is difficult for finance ministers to raise revenue by taxing a firm's mobile capital assets because the costs of relocating that capital in response to tax pressure have been reduced by globalization. Countries compete for this capital by reducing their capital tax rates. Governments are still pressured to provide welfare-enhancing public infrastructure investments despite resulting reductions in revenue.
Carbon taxes are a way to raise revenue without chasing firms abroad because carbon assets are not mobile or evenly distributed geographically. A tax on carbon imports cannot be avoided by relocation as easily as a tax on mobile capital. As a result, finance ministers who may not otherwise care about the environment may favor a carbon tax as a way to finance welfare-improving public investment.
"The Optimal Energy Mix in Power Generation and the Contribution from Natural Gas in Reducing Carbon Emissions to 2030 and Beyond—Summary"
This paper analyses a set of new scenarios for energy markets in Europe to evaluate the consistency of economic incentives and climate objectives. It focuses in particular on the role of natural gas across a range of climate policy scenarios (including the Copenhagen Pledges and the EU Roadmap) to identify whether current trend and policies are leading to an economically efficient and, at the same time, climate friendly, energy mix.