"...[T]he Copenhagen Accord is "only" a political agreement, so it does not provide sufficient assurance that countries will take action. But how much difference does it make that the Copenhagen Accord is a political rather than a legal agreement? Obviously, political agreements do not require domestic ratification, so they provide a weaker signal of domestic commitment. But the legal versus non-legal form of an instrument makes less of a difference in other respects, such as judicial enforcement, since even when an agreement is legally-binding, there are relatively few opportunities for adjudication either internationally or domestically. And evidence from other regimes suggests that states often take non-binding agreements quite seriously and make significant efforts to implement them."
"Beyond Copenhagen: Reconciling International Fairness, Economic Development, and Climate Protection"
By Jing Cao, Former Research Fellow, Environment and Natural Resources Program, 2002-2003
This paper proposes a new architecture for international climate policy that might usefully be considered by delegates at COP 17 in Durban. It highlights a top-down approach that is designed to produce a fair distribution of burdens across countries, while achieving objectives of: (a) economic development; (b) decreasing wealth inequality; and (c) emission reductions consistent with holding the expected increase in global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius. In addition, this discussion paper discusses several key design elements that will be important, especially from the perspective of developing countries, to the success of COP 17 and subsequent international climate negotiations. These design elements include agreements on burden sharing, choice of policy instruments, financial mechanisms and technology transfer, penalties for noncompliance, and linkages between trade and climate change.
By Robert Lawrence, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
This paper argues that the growing list of concerns about the impact of biofuel targets and mandates are the predictable result of a failure to follow the basic principles of good policy-making. Good policy-making requires developing a policy goal or target (i.e., reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing oil consumption, or increasing rural economic development) and designing an instrument to efficiently meet that particular goal. The more precise the goal, the better. In addition, for each target, there should be at least one policy instrument. You cannot meet two goals with only one instrument. This paper argues that the current U.S. biofuels mandates do not represent the most efficient or precise instrument to meet any of the policy's stated goals.
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.
June 17, 2010
By Justin Dargin, Former Associate, The Dubai Initiative
Justin Dargin at the Middle East Institute discusses greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Gulf and the pursuit of an effective carbon trading plan.
Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter
By Lucia Cordon
Ruud Kempener is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Belfer Center's Energy Research, Development, Demonstration & Deployment (ERD3) Policy project.
Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter
By Sharon Wilke, Associate Director of Communications
An upcoming report by the Belfer Center's Agricultural Innovation in Africa project was the focus of recent meetings in Tanzania to discuss how efforts around agricultural innovation can spur economic development in Africa.
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.
March 8, 2010
Magazine or Newspaper Article, allafrica.com
By Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development; Director, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project; Principal Investigator, Agricultural Innovation in Africa and Cindy Shiner
"African governments have a unique opportunity to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity. The starting point is for them to start creating domestic markets in clean technologies, many of which are now widely available. They need to define themselves as leaders in "green innovation" since they have not committed themselves too excessively to polluting technologies. They should be vigilant against import of polluting technologies. It is a chance for them to build a new image around their moral standing of being the lowest polluters."
January 13, 2010
In a discussion paper released by Harvard University's Sustainability Science Program and the Belfer Center's Environment and Natural Resources Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, Ricardo Hausmann and Rodrigo Wagner lay out five organizing principles for maximizing the development impact of a global biofuel market.
A disproportionately large amount of the world's agronomic potential for the production of bio-ethanol is concentrated in a subset of developing countries. To develop that potential, countries need both the existence of an appropriate local business ecosystem and reliable global demand. The creation of a global market for green biofuels, however, is affected by a constellation of diverse and sometimes conflicting policy goals, which tend to complicate policy discussion. In this paper we compile a set of principles to guide the design of a global market for green biofuels.