Despite an enormous amount of work done to persuade the world of the dangers of climate change and the need for quick corrective action, there is little progress toward a global compact for managing climate change. In fact, there are some basic differences of perspectives on climate change policies between developed and developing countries which may bedevil future global agreements on climate change for quite some time. Among the reasons for these differences are the issues of historical responsibility for carbon emission by the developed countries, the need for lifestyle changes in both the developed and developing countries, suspicion in the developing countries about the motives of developed countries and too much focus of current discussions on the very long-term and global effects of climate change.
Joseph E. Aldy
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
Market-approaches to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases lie at the heart of any cost-effective set of policies put forward in an international agreement—and will be considered at COP 17 in Durban in both the Kyoto and Long-term Cooperative Action discussions. Joseph Aldy and Robert Stavins "examine the opportunities and challenges associated with the major options for carbon pricing: carbon taxes, cap‐and‐trade, emission reduction credits, clean energy standards, and fossil fuel subsidy reductions."
Mustafa H. Babiker
"The G8 countries propose a goal of a 50% reduction in global emissions by 2050, in an effort that needs to take account of other agreements specifying that developing countries are to be provided with incentives to action and protected from the impact of measures taken by others. To help inform international negotiations of measures to achieve these goals, we develop a technique for endogenously estimating the allowance allocations and associated financial transfers necessary to achieve predetermined distributional outcomes and apply it in the MIT Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model. Possible burden sharing agreements are represented by different allowance allocations (and resulting financial flows) in a global cap-and-trade system. Cases studied include agreements that allocate the burden based on simple allocation rules found in current national proposals and alternatives that specify national equity goals for both developing and developed countries...."
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.
Edward J. Balistreri
"The Role of Border Carbon Adjustment in Unilateral Climate Policy: Insights from a Model-Comparison Study"
A new Harvard-Project Discussion Paper examines the relationships between domestic climate policy and trade. The study compares the output of a range of economic models, using the methodology of the Energy Modeling Forum (EMF).
The current climate regime, which focuses on reducing (net) emissions, can be improved in two ways. First, by breaking up the problem, and addressing each part separately, but treating all parts as a system of agreements, new possibilities emerge for enforcement. Second, by incorporating adaptation, "geoengineering," and the risks associated with mitigation options (such as long term storage of nuclear waste and carbon dioxide) in a portfolio of agreements, more opportunities open up for risk management. A portfolio system of climate treaties would be superior to today's single-track architecture.
Geoffrey J. Blanford
Recent growth in carbon dioxide emissions from China's energy sector has exceeded expectations. In a major US government study of future emissions released in 2007, participating models appear to have substantially underestimated the near-term rate of increase in China's emissions. We present a recalibration of one of those models to be consistent with both current observations and historical development patterns. The implications of the new specification for the feasibility of commonly discussed stabilization targets, particularly when considering incomplete global participation, are profound. Unless China's emissions begin to depart soon from their (newly projected) business-as-usual path, stringent stabilization goals may be unattainable. The current round of global policy negotiations must engage China and other developing countries, not to the exclusion of emissions reductions in the developed world and possibly with the help of significant financial incentives, if such goals are to be achieved. It is in all nations' interests to work cooperatively to limit our interference with the global climate.
Geoengineering grows in salience, the more time that passes without an effective international regime for mitigating climate change. It will be in the background of negotiations at COP 17 in Durban—and, perhaps, in the foreground of some important discussions. This discussion paper by Daniel Bodansky explores the opportunities and risks presented by geoengineering, as well as the particular challenges to crafting an effective system of governance for this set of approaches to addressing climate change
"A successful international climate policy framework will have to meet two conditions, build a coalition of countries that is potentially effective and give each member country sufficient incentives to join and remain in this coalition. Such coalition should be capable of delivering ambitious emission reduction even if some countries do not take mitigation action. In addition, it should meet the target without exceedingly high mitigation costs and deliver a net benefit to member countries as a whole. The novel contribution of this paper is mostly methodological, but it also adds a better qualification of well-known results that are policy relevant."
In a new Harvard Project Discussion Paper, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei's Valentina Bosetti and Enrica De Cian model the behavior of countries not participating in a cooperative climate regime. The regime imposes counterbalancing influences upon these countries, but under some conditions they may act to both reduce emissions and increase clean-energy R&D