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  • Author: Elizabeth N. Saunders
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: When and how do domestic politics influence a state's nuclear choices? Recent scholarship on nuclear security develops many domestic-political explanations for different nuclear decisions. These explanations are partly the result of two welcome trends: first, scholars have expanded the nuclear timeline, examining state behavior before and after nuclear proliferation; and second, scholars have moved beyond blunt distinctions between democracies and autocracies to more fine-grained understandings of domestic constraints. But without linkages between them, new domestic-political findings could be dismissed as a laundry list of factors that do not explain significant variation in nuclear decisions. This review essay assesses recent research on domestic politics and nuclear security, and develops a framework that illuminates when and how domestic-political mechanisms are likely to affect nuclear choices. In contrast to most previous domestic arguments, many of the newer domestic-political mechanisms posited in the literature are in some way top-down; that is, they show leaders deliberately maintaining or loosening control over nuclear choices. Two dimensions govern the extent and nature of domestic-political influence on nuclear choices: the degree of threat uncertainty and the costs and benefits to leaders of expanding the circle of domestic actors involved in a nuclear decision. The framework developed in this review essay helps make sense of several cases explored in the recent nuclear security literature. It also has implications for understanding when and how domestic-political arguments might diverge from the predictions of security-based analyses.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Security, Domestic politics, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Iran, North Korea
  • 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: René Castro
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In 2014, world per capita greenhouse gas emissions, expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent terms (CO2e), exceeded 7 tons. Per capita emissions for Latin America and the Caribbean were even higher, at 9 tons CO2e. To achieve international goals for the stabilization of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is calling for annual emissions to fall to 2 tons per capita by the year 2050 and 1 ton per capita by the year 2100. It is clear that we face a moral problem: everyone needs to, and can contribute to, the fight against climate change (Pope Francis, 2015). Improvements in eco-efficiency—defined as a combination of reducing waste and reducing the use of raw inputs—offer one strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while also lowering production costs. In addition, changes in culture—at the level of individual businesses, countries, or both—can enhance the eco-competitive position of these businesses and countries. This paper describes three examples from Costa Rica and shows how the goal of achieving carbon neutrality can provide incentives for improving eco-efficiency and eco-competitiveness.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Industrial Policy, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Governance
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Joseph E. Aldy
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: An extensive literature shows that information-creating mechanisms enhance the transparency of and can support participation and compliance in international agreements. This paper draws from game theory, international relations, and legal scholarship to make the case for how transparency through policy surveillance can facilitate more effective international climate change policy architecture. This paper critically evaluates the historic practice of monitoring and reporting under the global climate regime, with a focus on how surveillance affects the legitimacy, reciprocity, and adequacy of climate agreements. Given the inadequate nature of climate policy surveillance, I draw lessons from policy surveillance in multilateral economic, environmental, national security, and other contexts. I also describe how the institution of policy surveillance can facilitate a variety of climate policy architectures. This evaluation of policy surveillance suggests that transparency is necessary for global climate policy architecture.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Author: Robert N. Stavins, Ottmar Edenhofer, Christian Flachsland
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The goal of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements is to help identify and advance scientifically sound, economically rational, and politically pragmatic public policy options for addressing global climate change. Drawing upon leading thinkers in Argentina, Australia, China, Europe, India, Japan, and the United States, the Project conducts research on policy architecture, key design elements, and institutional dimensions of domestic climate policy and a post-2015 international climate policy regime. The Project is directed by Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy, Industrial Policy, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, India
  • Author: Daniel Bodansky
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In December 2011, parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which launched a new round of negotiations aimed at developing "a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force" for the post-2020 period. The Durban Platform negotiations got underway this year and are scheduled to conclude in 2015. This Viewpoint analyzes the elements of the Durban Platform and the possible role that a new instrument might play.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations
  • Author: Robert N. Stavins, Joseph E. Aldy
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: A key outcome of the Seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP-17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Durban, South Africa, late in 2011 — the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action — represents an important milestone in the history of climate negotiations. This is because it departs from the long-standing and problematic dichotomous division of the world's countries into those with serious emissions-reduction responsibilities and the others — with no such responsibilities whatsoever. That distinction, now apparently abandoned, has prevented meaningful progress for decades. The Durban Platform — by replacing the Berlin Mandate's (1995) division of the world into a set of countries with ambitious responsibilities and another set of countries with no responsibilities — has opened an important window. National delegations from around the world now have a challenging task before them: to identify a new international climate policy architecture that is consistent with the process, pathway, and principles laid out in the Durban Platform, while still being consistent with the UNFCCC. The challenge is to find a way to include all key countries in a structure that brings about meaningful emission reduction on an appropriate timetable at acceptable cost, while recognizing the different circumstances of countries in a way that is more subtle, more sophisticated, and — most important — more effective than the dichotomous distinction of years past.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: South Africa, United Nations, Durban
  • Author: Robert N. Stavins, Richard Schmalensee
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Two decades have passed since the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 launched a grand experiment in market-based environmental policy: the SO2 cap-and-trade system. That system performed well but created four striking ironies. First, by creating this system to reduce SO2 emissions to curb acid rain, the government did the right thing for the wrong reason. Second, a substantial source of this system's cost-effectiveness was an unanticipated consequence of earlier railroad deregulation. Third, it is ironic that cap-and-trade has come to be demonized by conservative politicians in recent years, since this market-based, cost-effective policy innovation was initially championed and implemented by Republican administrations. Fourth, court decisions and subsequent regulatory responses have led to the collapse of the SO2 market, demonstrating that what the government gives, the government can take away.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Government, Markets, Treaties and Agreements, Law
  • Author: Eric A. Posner, David Weisbach
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: A treaty satisfies what we call International Paretianism if it advances the interests of all states that join it, so that no state is made worse off. The principle might seem obvious, but it rules out nearly all the major proposals for a climate treaty, including proposals advanced by academics and by government officials. We defend International Paretianism, and for that reason urge commentators in the debate over climate justice to abandon efforts to right past wrongs, redistribute wealth, and achieve other abstract ideals through a climate treaty.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Author: Robert N. Stavins
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The outcome of the December 2011 United Nations climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, provides an important new opportunity to move toward an international climate policy architecture that is capable of delivering broad international participation and significant global CO2 emissions reductions at reasonable cost. We evaluate one important component of potential climate policy architecture for the post-Durban era: links among independent tradable permit systems for greenhouse gases. Because linkage reduces the cost of achieving given targets, there is tremendous pressure to link existing and planned cap-and-trade systems, and in fact, a number of links already or will soon exist. We draw on recent political and economic experience with linkage to evaluate potential roles that linkage may play in post-Durban international climate policy, both in a near-term, de facto architecture of indirect links between regional, national, and sub-national cap-and-trade systems, and in longer-term, more comprehensive bottom-up architecture of direct links. Although linkage will certainly help to reduce long-term abatement costs, it may also serve as an effective mechanism for building institutional and political structure to support a future climate agreement.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Environment, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: South Africa, Durban