July 14, 2015
By Nicholas Burns, Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations, Harvard Kennedy School
Testimony of Ambassador (ret.) Nicholas Burns
Goodman Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations
Harvard Kennedy School
House Committee on Foreign Affairs
July 14, 2015
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.
June 24, 2015
By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School
Belfer Center Director Graham Allison testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on "Lessons Learned from Past WMD Negotiations" to inform assessment of a comprehensive nuclear deal that will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
June 24, 2015
By William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Senior Fellow William Tobey testified before the Senate Foreign Relations committee discussing the history of past negotiations to prevent nuclear proliferation.
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.
By Sebastian Rosato, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2005–2006
Given the nature of intentions, there is little Washington and Beijing will be able to do or say to persuade the other side that it has and will always have peaceful intentions. In tomorrow's Asia, great power conflict is destiny.