2014

In Climate Talks, Soft is the New Hard – and That’s a Good Thing

December 15, 2014

[The New York Times ]...In a 1998 book, edited by Bill Nordhaus (Economics and Policy Issues in Climate Change), Dick Schmalensee wrote about “Greenhouse Policy Architectures and Institutions,” and lamented that the Kyoto Protocol exhibited narrow scope (covering only the Annex I countries) but aggressive ambition for that small set of nations. He presciently noted that this was precisely the opposite of what would be a sensible way forward, namely broad participation, even if the initial ambition… Read more about In Climate Talks, Soft is the New Hard – and That’s a Good Thing

Philippines Pushes Developing Countries to Cut Their Emissions

December 8, 2014

[International New York Times ]...The announcement by the Philippines “builds on the dramatic U.S.-China announcement two weeks ago,” said Robert N. Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. “It shows that there can be a deal in which emerging economies and countries on the growth path from developed to developing are now willing to negotiate.”

The Language of Climate Change

November 26, 2014

[Harvard Political Review ]...In past reports, the IPCC has maintained its scientific focus and has consistently reminded people that humans are to blame for shifts in climate and in ecology. In an interview with the HPR, Harvard economics professor Richard Cooper said that throughout the years IPCC reports have “gotten more sophisticated and longer” and that the IPCC is now “treated more authoritatively than it was initially.” … Read more about The Language of Climate Change

The U.S.-China Climate Deal is Historic, but it Will Still Take More to Save the Planet

November 12, 2014

[The Washington Post ]..."I take what happened last night as really one of the most important developments that I’ve seen in the international negotiations over the last 5 to ten years," says Robert Stavins, an environmental economist at the Harvard Kennedy School. That is not because of the literal emissions reductions that China and the United States have pledged, but rather because of the fact that they lay a foundation for more movement in reducing the emissions of other developing nations (besides China… Read more about The U.S.-China Climate Deal is Historic, but it Will Still Take More to Save the Planet

The Final Stage of IPCC AR5 – Last Week’s Outcome in Copenhagen

November 4, 2014

[Robert Stavins' blog] Some of you may recall that following the Government Approval Sessions for the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of Working Group 3 (WG3) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Berlin last spring, I expressed my disappointment and dismay regarding that process and its outcome in regard to the greatly abbreviated text of the SPM on the topic for which I was responsible, “International and Regional Cooperation.”  I expressed my frustration (and my hopes for the future) in two essays at this blog:

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Ghost of Milton Friedman Materializes in Chicago, Endorses a Price on Carbon

October 29, 2014

[The Huffington Post ]...Steve Cicala, who is an assistant professor at the U of C's Harris School of Public Policy, then brings us into the logic of Friedman's conclusion with a hypothetical. Let's pretend, he says, that he owns a steel mill that sells its product for $100 a ton. And let's further pretend that co-panelist Michael Greenstone, who is the U of C's Milton Friedman Professor of Economics, lives downwind from his mill.… Read more about Ghost of Milton Friedman Materializes in Chicago, Endorses a Price on Carbon

E.U. Greenhouse Gas Deal Falls Short of Expectations

October 24, 2014

[The New York Times ]...The deal requires a 40 percent cut in emissions from levels in 1990, a period when carbon pollution from European coal plants was at high levels. In the United States, President Obama is pushing policies to cut carbon pollution by 17 percent from levels in 2005, a year in which carbon pollution was much lower, according to Robert N. Stavins of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements. The European Union deal could still top that, but probably by only a few percentage points using the… Read more about E.U. Greenhouse Gas Deal Falls Short of Expectations