By Terence Roehrig, Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom
A nuclear North Korea makes it crucial that all countries in Northeast Asia work hard at maintaining a stable security environment that avoids the dangers of a crisis while encouraging North Korea to adopt a nuclear strategy that retains its "no first use" pledge, a strong command and control system, and a stable nuclear weapons posture. Given its relationship with North Korea, China is best positioned to encourage DPRK leaders in these directions.
By Donna Lee
Forests can play a significant role in helping to avoid dangerous climate change, and a global agreement under the UNFCCC would be uniquely placed to support efforts in this regard. The rising global demand for agricultural and other land-based products means that pressures on land are increasingly cross-border, and there is an accelerating expansion of the deforestation frontier. Smart domestic policies are critical to solving the deforestation challenge, and recent private sector interest in "sustainable agriculture" is encouraging. However, global agreements that value standing forests and provide incentives that positively impact land use change decisions can be an equally important tool.
The United States' extended system of security commitments creates a set of institutional relationships that foster political communication. Alliance institutions are first about security protection, but they also bind states together and create institutional channels of communication. For example, NATO has facilitated ties and associated institutions that increase the ability of the United States and Europe to talk to each other and to do business. Likewise, the bilateral alliances in East Asia also play a communication role beyond narrow security issues. Consultations and exchanges spill over into other policy areas. This gives the United States the capacity to work across issue areas, using assets and bargaining chips in one area to make progress in another.
Critics of the linkage argument argue that the United States and Russia have cut their nuclear arsenals substantially without any noticeable subsequent increase in support for nonproliferation. Nonnuclear weapon states, however, tend not to view nuclear arms reductions as the best indicator of compliance with Article 6; they attach greater weight to policies that convey an intent among weapon states to keep nuclear weapons indefinitely.
The United States has considerable tax administration and cap-and-trade expertise that could highlight potentially successful carbon pricing approaches. Although this experience is not climate-related, the United States deploys an efficient and highly compliant excise tax system, and it could assist developing country efforts to build their own capacity to tax carbon. The United States also has long experience with cap-and-trade systems for criteria air pollutants, much of which is transferable to greenhouse-gas emissions trading.
By Bard Harstad
Climate policy is complicated. For a treaty to be beneficial, one must think through carefully how it will work, once it is implemented. Crucial questions include the following: How should an international treaty be designed? Should one negotiate commitments for a five-year period, or for much longer? Assuming that the treaty specifies aggregate or country-specific emission caps, what should these caps be and how should they change over time? How should the agreement be updated once policymakers, scholars, and the public learn more about the severity of the climate-change problem, or about the effects of the policy? Can the treaty be designed to encourage investments in "green" abatement technology or renewable energy sources? Finally, how can one motivate countries to participate and comply with such an agreement?
By John S. Park, Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
John S. Park, Stanton Nuclear Security Junior Faculty Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Project on Managing the Atom Associate, argues that cooperation between North Korea and Iran has been a critical—yet underexamined—enabler of North Korea's recent success. He concludes that the time has come for the United States to view the two previously independent missile programs as two sides of the same coin and recommends strategies for disrupting the procurement channels between Iran and North Korea.
By Stephen Biddle, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 1985–1987; Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security, Jeffrey A. Friedman, Research Fellow, International Security Program and Jacob N. Shapiro
Why did violence decline in Iraq in 2007? Many credit the "surge," or the program of U.S. reinforcements and doctrinal changes that began in January 2007. Others cite the voluntary insurgent stand-downs of the Sunni Awakening or say that the violence had simply run its course after a wave of sectarian cleansing. Evidence drawn from recently declassified data on violence at local levels and a series of seventy structured interviews with coalition participants finds little support for the cleansing or Awakening theses. This analysis constitutes the first attempt to gather systematic evidence across space and time to help resolve this debate, and it shows that a synergistic interaction between the surge and the Awakening was required for violence to drop as quickly and widely as it did.
By Joseph E. Aldy, Faculty Affiliate, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements and Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government; Member of the Board; Director, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action represents an important milestone in the history of climate negotiations. The challenge is to find a way to include all key countries in a structure that brings about meaningful emission reduction on an appropriate timetable at acceptable cost, while recognizing the different circumstances of countries in a way that is more subtle, more sophisticated, and more effective than the dichotomous distinction of years past. This policy brief expands upon the authors' Science article, "Climate Negotiators Create an Opportunity for Scholars."
In December 2011, parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which launched a new round of negotiations aimed at developing "a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force" for the post-2020 period. The Durban Platform negotiations got underway this year and are scheduled to conclude in 2015. This Viewpoint analyzes the elements of the Durban Platform and the possible role that a new instrument might play.