International Climate Policy

Climate change is a defining public issue of the 21st century with the potential to cause significant economic damage globally and to exacerbate inequality within and across countries. Climate change frames all the work we do, but we're also undertaking research to systematically understand international responses to climate change and the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Members of the Lab regularly attend the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties meetings.


journal article

International Climate Change Policy

International cooperation to address the threat of climate change has become more institutionally diverse over the past decade, reflecting multiple scales of governance and the growing inclusion of climate change issues in other policy arenas. Cooperation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has continued to evolve from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the 2015 Paris Agreement, while other governmental and private sector international fora for cooperation have arisen. As the level of activity in international cooperation on climate change mitigation has increased, so too has the related scholarly literature. In this review, we synthesize the literature on international climate change cooperation and identify key policy implications, as well as those findings most relevant for the research community. Our scope includes critical evaluation of the organization and implementation of agreements and instruments, retrospective analysis of cooperative efforts, and explanations of successes and failures.

Chan, Gabriel, Robert Stavins, and Zou Ji. "International Climate Change Policy." Annual Review of Resource Economics 10 (2018).

Journal article

Reforming the IPCC’s Assessment of Climate Change Economics

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is broadly viewed as the world’s most legitimate scientific assessment body that periodically assesses the economics of climate change (among many other topics) for policy audiences. However, growing procedural inefficiencies and limitations to substantive coverage have made the IPCC an increasingly unattractive forum for the most qualified climate economists. Drawing on our observations and personal experience working on the most recent IPCC report, published last year, we propose four reforms to the IPCC’s process that we believe will lower the cost for volunteering as an IPCC author: improving interactions between governments and academics, making IPCC operations more efficient, clarifying and strengthening conflict of interest rules, and expanding outreach. We also propose three reforms to the IPCC’s substantive coverage to clarify the IPCC’s role and to make participation as an author more intellectually rewarding: complementing the IPCC with other initiatives, improving the integration of economics with other disciplines, and providing complete data for policymakers to make decisions. Despite the distinct characteristics of the IPCC that create challenges for authors unlike those in any other review body, we continue to believe in the importance of the IPCC for providing the most visible line of public communication between the scholarly community and policymakers.

Chan, Gabriel, Carlo Carraro, Ottmar Edenhoffer, Charles Kolstad, and Robert Stavins (2016). “Reforming the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Assessment of Climate Economics.” Climate Change Economics 7(1).

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Ahead of COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco, we proposed a set of guidelines for a Sustainable Development Mechanism (SDM), a new market-based mechanism under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. We propose that a new SDM should adopt a sectoral approach for facilitating the international transfer of mitigation outcomes. We suggest ways in which a new sectoral SDM can create a robust, credible market for tradeable carbon offsets, building upon the lessons of the project-based Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and active sectoral-based crediting mechanisms in several domestic contexts.

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