HKS Authors

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Teresa and John Heinz Professor of the Practice of Environmental Policy


The comparability of domestic actions to mitigate global climate change has important implications for the stability, equity, and efficiency of international climate agreements. We examine a variety of metrics that could be used to evaluate countries’ climate change mitigation effort and illustrate their potential application for large developed and developing countries. We also explain how transparent measures of the comparability of effort can contribute to the design of international and domestic climate change policy along several dimensions. For example, such measures can facilitate participation and compliance in an agreement if they can illustrate that all parties are doing their “fair share.” Second, these measures can inform the bilateral linking of domestic cap-and-trade programs in a manner akin to how nations negotiate the lowering of trade barriers more generally in trade policy. Third, assessments of the comparability of effort can affect whether to implement and, if necessary, the stringency of unilateral border measures (e.g., a border tax). Finally, such assessments demonstrate the need for a well-functioning policy surveillance regime.


Aldy, Joseph, and William A. Pizer. "Comparability of Effort in International Climate Policy Architecture." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP14-006, February 2014.