Harvard Project and Collaborators Publish Science Article on Future of the IPCC
The article appeared online on October 2, 2015 and captures some of the more important conclusions of a research workshop conducted in February 2015 on approaches to improving the process by which research on climate change is assessed.
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October 6, 2015
By Robert C. Stowe, Executive Director, Harvard Environmental Economics Program; Manager, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
On September 25, 2015, Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Barack Obama of the United States reaffirmed their "shared conviction that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity and that their two countries have a critical role to play in addressing it." The Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change built upon that of November 12, 2014 and contains pledges to cooperate: 1) To produce an ambitious multilateral agreement at the Twenty-First Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris in December 2015; 2) To advance respective domestic actions (detailed in the announcement) to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions; and 3) To enhance bilateral and multilateral cooperation through forums other than the UNFCCC.
This paper calculates, for the top twenty emitting countries, how much pricing of CO2 emissions is in their own national interests due to domestic co-benefits alone. The answer: a significant (though varying) portion of the price that would also include climate benefits.
Uncertainty about "climate sensitivity"—the impact on temperature of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases—grew from the IPCC's 4th to 5th Assessment Reports. The authors conclude that this "bad news" outweighs the "good news": a lower value for the bottom end of the range for temperature rise.
The authors argue that reducing uncertainty about the impacts of climate change will facilitate effective adaptation, even in the absence of effective international climate agreements.
"Internationally-Tradable Permits Can Be Riskier for a Country than an Internally-Imposed Carbon Price"
Uncertainty in the form of country-specific abatement-cost shocks, together with cross-border revenue flows from internationally-tradable permits, can lead to greater country risk from an international emissions-trading system than from the imposition of a uniform carbon price.
"From the Ground Up: the Value of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is Coming into Clear Focus"
Harvard Kennedy School magazine
"We insist on being policy-relevant but not policy-prescriptive," Stavins says. "And that is something the negotiating teams appreciate. Whereas many groups have an ax to grind, we do not; we just want to help them understand the nature and dimensions of specific issues and how they can address them."