Publications

2009
Stavins, Robert N. “A Portfolio of Domestic Commitments: Implementing Common but Differentiated Responsibilities.” Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

International negotiations are focused on developing a climate policy framework for the post-2012 period, when the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period will have ended. In addition to negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), other intergovernmental outlets, including the G20 and the Major Economies Forum, are trying to reach common ground among the world's major emitters of greenhouse gases. To date, these efforts have not produced a politically, economically, and environmentally viable structure for a future climate agreement. An effective, but more flexible and politically palatable approach could be an international agreement on a "portfolio of domestic commitments." Under such an agreement, nations would agree to honor commitments to greenhouse gas emission reductions laid out in their own domestic laws and regulations. A portfolio of commitments may emerge from a global meeting such as the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, or a smaller number of major economies could negotiate an agreement among themselves, and then invite other countries to join. Despite the obvious differences between such a system and the conventional "targets and timetables" in the Kyoto Protocol, negotiators should not dismiss this new approach out of hand. There are several ways to construct a portfolio of domestic commitments, and negotiators have numerous levers available to tailor an agreement to meet their political, economic, and environmental goals. This Viewpoint outlines some basic features of a portfolio approach, highlights a few major issues and concerns, and discusses the potential feasibility of this approach.

domesticcommitments_final.pdf

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Post-Kyoto International Climate Policy: Summary for Policymakers
Aldy, Joseph E, and Robert N Stavins, ed. Post-Kyoto International Climate Policy: Summary for Policymakers. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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Stavins, Robert N. “The Stimulus and Green Jobs.” The Environmental Forum 26 (2009): 16. column_30.pdf

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Stavins, Robert N. “Towards a Post-Kyoto International Climate Policy Regime.” In Beyond Copenhagen: A Climate Policymaker's Handbook, edited by Juan Delgado and Stephen Gardner, 53–62. Brussels, Belgium: Bruegel Books, 2009. aldy_stavins_bruegel_book_chapter.pdf

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Stavins, Robert N. “Wonderful Politics of Cap-and-Trade.” The Environmental Forum 26 (2009): 16. column_32.pdf

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Stavins, Robert N. “Worried About Competitiveness?The Environmental Forum 26 (2009): 18. column_33.pdf

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2008
Stavins, Robert N, Judson Jaffe, and Todd Schatzki. “Free Greenhouse Gas Cuts: Too Good to Be True?VoxEU.org, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The possibility of “no cost” emission reductions has been raised by research on California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Here is a more sober assessment. Overly optimistic findings leave policymakers with inadequate appreciation of the stakes, and provide little insight into the relative cost of policy design alternatives.
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Stavins, Robert N. “Inspiration for climate change.” Boston.com (2008). Publisher's Version
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Stavins, Robert N. “AB 32 / Combating Global Warming.” San Diego Union‑Tribune (2008). Publisher's Version
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Stavins, Robert N. “Addressing Climate Change with a Comprehensive Us Cap-and-Trade System.” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 24 (2008): 298 –321. Publisher's VersionAbstract

There is growing impetus for a domestic US climate policy that can provide meaningful reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. I describe and analyse an up-stream, economy-wide CO2 cap-and-trade system which implements a gradual trajectory of emissions reductions (with inclusion over time of non-CO2 greenhouse gases), and includes mechanisms to reduce cost uncertainty. Initially, half of the allowances are allocated through auction and half through free distribution, with the share being auctioned gradually increasing to 100 per cent over 25 years. The system provides for linkage with emission-reduction credit projects in other countries, harmonization over time with effective cap-and-trade systems in other countries and regions, and appropriate linkage with actions taken in other countries, in order to establish a level playing field among domestically produced and imported products.

stavins_article_on_us_cap-and-trade_for_oxford_review.pdf

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Stavins, Robert N. “Cap-and-Trade or a Carbon Tax? (methods for Controlling Greenhouse Gases).” The Environmental Forum 25 (2008): 16. column_22.pdf

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Aldy, Joseph E, and Robert N Stavins. “Climate Policy Architectures for the Post-Kyoto World.” Environment 50 (2008): 6–17. Publisher's Version aldy-stavins-environment-1.pdf

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Reinhardt, Forest L, Robert N Stavins, and Richard HK Vietor. “Corporate Social Responsibility Through an Economic Lens.” Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 2 (2008): 219–239. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Business leaders, government officials, and academics are focusing considerable attention on the concept of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR), particularly in the realm of environmental protection. Beyond complete compliance with environmental regulations, do firms have additional moral or social responsibilities to commit resources to environmental protection? How should we think about the notion of firms sacrificing profits in the social interest? May they do so within the scope of their fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders? Can they do so on a sustainable basis, or will the forces of a competitive marketplace render such efforts and their impacts transient at best? Do firms, in fact, frequently or at least sometimes behave this way, reducing their earnings by voluntarily engaging in environmental stewardship? And finally, should firms carry out such profit-sacrificing activities (i.e., is this an efficient use of social resources)? We address these questions through the lens of economics, including insights from legal analysis and business scholarship.

reinhardt_stavins_vietor_reep.pdf

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Stavins, Robert N. “CSR Through an Economic Lens.(corporate Social Responsibility).” The Environmental Forum 25 (2008): 16. column_25.pdf

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Stavins, Robert N. “Enviro Justice and Cap-and-Trade.” The Environmental Forum 25 (2008): 20. column_24.pdf

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Stavins, Robert N. “Environmental Economics.” In The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, edited by Steven N Durlauf and Lawrence Blume. 2nd ed. Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. environmental-economics.pdf

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Stavins, Robert N. “An International Policy Architecture for the Post-Kyoto Era.” In Global Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto, edited by Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, 145–153. Washington, D.C. Brookings Institution Press, 2008.Abstract

"Comprehensive examination of the economic, social, and political context of climate policy in industrialized and developing nations. Calls for a multilateral approach that goes beyond the mitigation-focused Kyoto policies and stresses the importance of generating policies that work within a time frame commensurate with that of climate change itself"–Provided by publisher.

three-part_architecture_paper_for_yale_by_stavins_revsied.pdf

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Stavins, Robert N. “Land-Use Change and Carbon Sinks.” The Environmental Forum 25 (2008): 16. column_27.pdf

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Jaffe, Judson, and Robert N Stavins. “Linkage of Tradable Permit Systems in International Climate Policy Architecture.” Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Cap-and-trade systems have emerged as the preferred national and regional instrument for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases throughout the industrialized world, and the Clean Development Mechanism — an international emission-reduction-credit system — has developed a substantial constituency, despite some concerns about its performance. Because linkage between tradable permit systems can reduce compliance costs and improve market liquidity, there is great interest in linking cap-and-trade systems to each other, as well as to the CDM and other credit systems. We examine the benefits and concerns associated with various types of linkages, and analyze the near-term and long-term role that linkage may play in a future international climate policy architecture. In particular, we evaluate linkage in three potential roles: as an independent bottom-up architecture, as a step in the evolution of a top-down architecture, and as an ongoing element of a larger climate policy agreement. We also assess how the policy elements of climate negotiations can facilitate or impede linkages. Our analysis throughout is both positive and normative.

linkage_paper_hpica.pdf

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Jaffe, Judson, and Robert N Stavins. “Linking a U.S. Cap-and-Trade System for Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Opportunities, Implications, and Challenges.” Washington, D.C. AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, 2008. aei-brookings_epri_paper.pdf

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Pages