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Robert Stavins
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Robert N. Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, Chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Faculty Group at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and Director of Graduate Studies for the Doctoral Program in Public Policy and the Doctoral Program in Political Economy and Government, and Co-Chair of the Harvard Business School-Kennedy School Joint Degree Programs, and director of the Harvard Project on International Climate Agreements. He is a University Fellow of Resources for the Future, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Editor of the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, and a Member of: the Board of Directors of Resources for the Future, the Board of Academic Advisors of the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, the Board of Directors of the Robert and Renée Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the Editorial Boards of Resource and Energy Economics, Environmental Economics Abstracts, Environmental Law and Policy Abstracts, B.E. Journals of Economic Analysis & Policy, and Economic Issues. He is also an editor of the Journal of Wine Economics. Professor Stavins' research has focused on diverse areas of environmental economics and policy, including examinations of: market-based policy instruments; regulatory impact analysis; innovation and diffusion of pollution-control technologies; environmental benefit valuation; policy instrument choice under uncertainty; competitiveness effects of regulation; depletion of forested wetlands; political economy of policy instrument choice; and costs of carbon sequestration.

Harvard Environmental Economics Program


Harvard Project on International Climate Agreements

Entries by Robert Stavins

A Key Moment Is Coming for the IPCC's Future

(5) Comments | Posted July 12, 2015 | 8:05 PM

About six month ago, I posted an essay at this blog (The IPCC at a Crossroads, February 26, 2015) highlighting some of the challenges faced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which plays an important role in global climate change policy around...

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Crude Oil Prices, Climate Change, and Global Welfare

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2015 | 5:02 PM

A few weeks ago I participated in a panel session titled "The Remarkable Transformation of the Energy Sector: Does It Also Transform Our World?" The motivating question was: "Is the dramatic decline in oil prices a complete gift to the West because of the enormous funds being saved, or is...

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Assessing the Energy-Efficiency Gap

(0) Comments | Posted June 2, 2015 | 8:29 PM

Global energy consumption is on a path to grow 30–50 percent over the next 25 years, bringing with it, in many countries, increased local air pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and oil consumption, as well as higher energy prices. Energy-efficient technologies offer considerable promise for reducing the costs and environmental...

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When Reasonable Policy Discussions Become Unreasonable Personal Attacks

(1) Comments | Posted June 2, 2015 | 7:56 PM

I was reminded of the controversy that erupted late in 2014 about remarks made by the distinguished health economist, Jonathan Gruber, professor at MIT for two decades. Professor Gruber, one of the country's leading experts on health policy, had played an important role in the construction of the...

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What to Expect at COP-20 in Lima

(0) Comments | Posted June 1, 2015 | 8:04 PM

On Monday, December 1, the Twentieth Conference of the Parties (COP-20) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commences in Lima, Peru. Over the next two weeks, delegations from 195 countries will discuss and debate the next major international climate agreement,...

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The Final Stage of IPCC AR5 -- Last Week's Outcome in Copenhagen

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2015 | 8:29 PM

Some of you may recall that following the Government Approval Sessions for the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of Working Group 3 (WG3) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Berlin last spring, I expressed my disappointment and dismay regarding that process and...

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What Can Universities Do About Climate Change?

(0) Comments | Posted May 4, 2015 | 4:55 PM

There has been considerable debate about whether universities -- and, for that matter, foundations -- should divest fossil-fuel stocks from their investment portfolios as a way to reduce the risk of global climate change. My own institution, Harvard University, decided that such an action was neither warranted nor wise (a...

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The UN Climate Summit and a Key Issue for the 2015 Paris Agreement

(0) Comments | Posted May 4, 2015 | 2:40 PM

The following post was originally published on Sept. 27, 2014, on Robert Stavins' personal blog.

World leaders converged at the United Nations in New York City this past week for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's much-anticipated Climate Summit, a lead-up to global negotiations that will take place in...

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What Are the Benefits and Costs of EPA's Proposed CO2 Regulation?

(5) Comments | Posted August 8, 2014 | 5:27 PM

­On June 2, the Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited proposed regulation to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing sources in the electricity-generating sector. The regulatory (rule) proposal calls for cutting CO2 emissions from the power sector by 30 percent below 2005...

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EPA's Proposed Greenhouse Gas Regulation: Why Are Conservatives Attacking Its Market-Based Options?

(1) Comments | Posted June 10, 2014 | 4:00 PM

This week, the Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited proposed regulation to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing sources in the electricity-generating sector. The regulatory (rule) proposal calls for cutting CO2 emissions from the power sector by 30 percent below...

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Understanding the IPCC: An Important Follow-Up

(4) Comments | Posted May 4, 2014 | 7:37 PM

A week ago, I wrote at this blog about my recent frustrations with the government approval process of one part of the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) Working Group III (WG3) report, namely...

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Is the IPCC Government Approval Process Broken?

(4) Comments | Posted April 27, 2014 | 6:52 PM

Over the past five years, I have dedicated an immense amount of time and effort to serving as the Co-Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of Chapter 13, "International Cooperation: Agreements and Instruments," of Working Group III (Mitigation) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)....

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Can There Be a Positive Prognosis for Climate Negotiations?

(0) Comments | Posted March 30, 2014 | 7:56 PM

I'm writing this brief essay on board my flight to the USA from Europe (where I participated in a workshop at the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim, Germany). It was an interesting event, the substance of which (the "energy-efficiency paradox") I will write about in...

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Will Europe Scrap Its Renewables Target? That Would Be Good News for the Economy and for the Environment

(5) Comments | Posted January 18, 2014 | 5:09 PM

The European Union is considering scrapping the use of binding renewable energy targets as part of its global climate change policy mix that will extend action from 2020 to 2030. The Financial Times reported that this move — presumably due to concerns over high European energy costs during...

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The Warsaw Climate Negotiations, and Reason for Cautious Optimism

(0) Comments | Posted January 10, 2014 | 4:38 PM

The Nineteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-19) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came to a close in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, November 23rd, after what has become the norm — several all-night sessions culminating in last-minute negotiations that featured...

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While International Climate Negotiations Continue, the World's Ninth Largest Economy Takes an Important Step Forward

(1) Comments | Posted December 5, 2012 | 1:44 PM

A little more than two weeks ago, while some 195 nations prepared to meet in Doha, Qatar, for the Eighteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in an ongoing effort to hammer out a durable...

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Cap-and-Trade, Carbon Taxes, and My Neighbor's Lovely Lawn

(6) Comments | Posted October 22, 2012 | 7:46 PM

The recent demise of serious political consideration of an economy-wide U.S. CO2 cap-and-trade system and the even more recent resurgence in interest among policy wonks in a U.S. carbon tax should prompt reflection on where we've been, where we are, and where we may be going.

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A Challenge for Climate Negotiators, and an Opportunity for Scholars

(1) Comments | Posted September 4, 2012 | 8:14 PM

As I have written in many previous essays at this blog, the challenges standing in the way of an effective international climate change agreement are numerous and severe. It is also true that the prospects for a truly meaningful deal may be better now than at any time in the...

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Two Notable Events Prompt Examination of an Important Property of Cap-and-Trade

(1) Comments | Posted July 24, 2012 | 12:47 PM

In December of 2010, a group of economists and legal scholars gathered at the University of Chicago to celebrate two notable events. One was the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Ronald Coase's The Problem of Social Cost (Coase 1960). The other was Professor...

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Can Market Forces Really Be Employed to Address Climate Change?

(3) Comments | Posted May 29, 2012 | 4:24 PM

Debate continues in the United States, Europe and throughout the world about whether the forces of the marketplace can be harnessed in the interest of environmental protection, in particular, to address the threat of global climate change. In an essay that appears in the Spring 2012 issue of

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