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  • Author: Joseph E. Aldy
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper examines the choice between—and design of—CO2 cap-and-trade and tax policies through a political-economy lens. It draws from insights in economics and political economy to highlight important public policy principles and policy options in carbon-pricing policy design. The paper illustrates each of these insights with examples from cap-and-trade and tax-policy experiences. Revealed political preferences about carbon-pricing-policy design can, in practice, inform our understanding of how decision-makers weigh various policy principles, as well as policy objectives. The balance of the paper examines the following design choices: establishing and phasing-in policy targets; setting the point of compliance and scope of coverage; addressing uncertainties in emission and cost outcomes under carbon pricing; updating carbon-pricing targets over time; using revenue and other forms of economic value created by carbon pricing; mitigating adverse competitiveness impacts of pricing carbon; accounting for the existing, complex policy landscape in designing carbon pricing; and linking of carbon-pricing programs. The final section concludes with a discussion of policy implications and next steps for policy-relevant scholarship.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Climate Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Stig Jarle Hansen, Mohamed Husein Gaas, Ida Bary
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Although it may seem that the Muslim Brotherhood has weakened since the onset of the "Arab Winter" in 2013 and onward, organizations with their origins in the Brotherhood still have access to power in countries as diverse as Somalia, Bahrain, Morocco, and Yemen, and might regain power in other countries as well. Most Brotherhood-affiliated movements are committed to some form of democracy, unlike many of their rivals in the Middle East. Even the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have sought allies among Brotherhood affiliates, despite banning a majority of affiliated organizations.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Poneman
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Today, as a species, we face two existential threats: nuclear annihilation and catastrophic climate change. Both stem from human origins. We need to fight both threats aggressively. There are many things we can and should do to tackle the climate threat, beginning with putting a price on carbon emissions, promoting market mechanisms that reward efficiency, leveling the playing field for all lower-carbon energy sources, and leveraging the Paris Climate Agreement into more effective international action. But even adding up all existing national commitments to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, and assuming perfect execution, the world falls far short of the cuts needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. The expanded use of nuclear energy can make a major contribution to closing that gap and meeting our climate goals. But inherent in the use of atomic fission is the risk that the technology and materials can be diverted to terrorists or hostile nations.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Human Welfare, Markets, Nuclear Weapons, International Security, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Poneman
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Today, as a species, we face two existential threats: nuclear annihilation and catastrophic climate change. Both stem from human origins. We need to fight both threats aggressively. There are many things we can and should do to tackle the climate threat, beginning with putting a price on carbon emissions, promoting market mechanisms that reward efficiency, leveling the playing field for all lower-carbon energy sources, and leveraging the Paris Climate Agreement into more effective international action. But even adding up all existing national commitments to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, and assuming perfect execution, the world falls far short of the cuts needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. The expanded use of nuclear energy can make a major contribution to closing that gap and meeting our climate goals. But inherent in the use of atomic fission is the risk that the technology and materials can be diverted to terrorists or hostile nations.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Human Welfare, Markets, Nuclear Weapons, International Security, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Poneman
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Today, as a species, we face two existential threats: nuclear annihilation and catastrophic climate change. Both stem from human origins. We need to fight both threats aggressively. There are many things we can and should do to tackle the climate threat, beginning with putting a price on carbon emissions, promoting market mechanisms that reward efficiency, leveling the playing field for all lower-carbon energy sources, and leveraging the Paris Climate Agreement into more effective international action. But even adding up all existing national commitments to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, and assuming perfect execution, the world falls far short of the cuts needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. The expanded use of nuclear energy can make a major contribution to closing that gap and meeting our climate goals. But inherent in the use of atomic fission is the risk that the technology and materials can be diverted to terrorists or hostile nations.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Human Welfare, Markets, Nuclear Weapons, International Security, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Olli Heinonen
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Iran's nuclear program dates from the late 1950s. By the 1960s, the united states had supplied the iranians with a small research reactor. Later, the shah had ambitious plans to construct twenty-three nuclear power reactors, and initial orders were placed with west german and french companies. Iran also started to invest in nuclear fuel-cycle services, though was unable, due to u.s. Pressure, to obtain reprocessing or uranium enrichment plants. It did, however, invest in the eurodif enrichment plant in france and the roessing uranium mine in namibia, shareholdings it maintains today. When iran signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1968 and ratified it in 1970, all its nuclear activities became subject to inspection by the international atomic energy agency (iaea).
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Namibia
  • Author: Gary Samore
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This report has been produced in the interest of contributing to informed Congressional review and public discourse on a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It provides a concise description of the agreement and the accompanying UN Security Council Resolution 2231. It also includes a balanced assessment of the agreement's strengths and weaknesses with respect to its central objective to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The team of experts who prepared the report includes Democrats, Republications, independents, and internationals. Noting areas of disagreement among themselves, they agreed that this report provides an accurate description and balanced assessment of the agreement.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Joseph E. Aldy, William A. Pizer
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The comparability of domestic actions to mitigate global climate change has important implications for the stability, equity, and efficiency of international climate agreements. We examine a variety of metrics that could be used to evaluate countries' climate change mitigation effort and illustrate their potential application for large developed and developing countries. We also explain how transparent measures of the comparability of effort can contribute to the design of international and domestic climate change policy along several dimensions. For example, such measures can facilitate participation and compliance in an agreement if they can illustrate that all parties are doing their "fair share." Second, these measures can inform the bilateral linking of domestic cap-and-trade programs in a manner akin to how nations negotiate the lowering of trade barriers more generally in trade policy. Third, assessments of the comparability of effort can affect whether to implement and, if necessary, the stringency of unilateral border measures (e.g., a border tax). Finally, such assessments demonstrate the need for a well-functioning policy surveillance regime.
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Martin L. Weitzman
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: It is difficult to resolve the global warming free-rider externality problem by negotiating quantity targets. By contrast, negotiating a single binding minimum carbon price (the proceeds from which are domestically retained) counters self interest by incentivizing agents to internalize the externality. The model of this paper indicates an exact sense in which each agent's extra cost from a higher emissions price is counterbalanced by that agent's extra benefit from inducing all other agents to simultaneously lower their emissions. Some implications are discussed.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy, Industrial Policy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Claude Bruderlein
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The Syrian refugee crisis represents one of the greatest humanitarian challenges the international community has faced over the recent years, prompting record-high levels of international aid. In view of the complexity of the political and social environment in which these challenges arise and the historical scale of the population affected, innovative and creative programmatic responses are essential to address the short and middle-term needs of refugees and reducing instability in the Middle East region. Over 20 students from Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard School of Public Health participated in "Assessment of the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan and Critical Review of the National and International Responses," a winter field study course in Jordan supported by the Middle East Initiative and led by Professor Claude Bruderlein. Read more about their learning experience below and in the attached report.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria