Green Economy Initiative Highlights

Harvard expert calls for steady progress at climate talks

Geneva, 29 November 2011 - Professor Robert Stavins from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government provided a timely lecture on “Trade-offs of Performance, Efficiency and Equity of International Climate Policy," at a special briefing hosted by the Centre for International Environmental Studies (CIES) of the Graduate Institute of Geneva in association with UNEP's Economics and Trade Branch and the Geneva Environmental Network.

Professor Stavins presented the progress made at the previous Conference of Parties (COP) in Copenhagen and Cancun, and reviewed the challenges for COP 17 currently taking place in Durban (28 Nov - 9 Dec 2011).  Highlighting the essential interplay of economics and geopolitics behind the international climate change negotiations, he outlined the potential global benefits from commitments taken at the local and national levels.

“A sensible goal for the climate negotiations is to progress on a sound foundation for meaningful, long-term action,” said Professor Stavins, who is also Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (U.S.)

He stressed the importance of climate policies that make “economic sense” and cited the US stimulus package which had allocated US$ 80 billion for renewals and energy efficiency, and also the implementation of regulatory measures to foster a low-carbon economy, for example through energy efficiency standards for automobiles and appliances.  He also noted the potential of the Clean Development Mechanism moving forward, with or without a renewed commitments to the Kyoto Protocol.  The CDM is one of the "flexibility" mechanisms defined in the Kyoto Protocol to assist parties included in Annex I in achieving compliance with their quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments and is set to expire in 2012.

  1. For more information, visit his blog here ( or the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements (