Robert Stavins

Robert N. Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, and Chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Faculty Group at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

option packed

The real options for U.S. climate policy

The time has not yet come to throw in the towel regarding the possible enactment in 2010 of meaningful economy-wide climate change policy (such as that found in the Waxman-Markey legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June, 2009, or the more recent Kerry-Lieberman proposal in the Senate). Meaningful action of some kind is still possible, or at least conceivable. But with debates regarding national climate change policy becoming more acrimonious in Washington as midterm elections approach, it is important to ask, what are the real options for climate policy in the United States — not only in …

Here We Go Again

A closer look at the Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade proposal

As with the Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454), passed by the House of Representatives last June, there is now some confusing commentary in the press and blogosphere about the allocation of allowances in the new Senate proposal — the American Power Act of 2010 — sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). As before, the mistake is being made of confusing the share of allowances that are freely allocated versus auctioned with (the appropriate analysis of) the actual incidence of the allowance value, that is, who ultimately benefits from the allocation and auction revenue. In this essay, I …

Eyes on the Prize

Federal climate policy should preempt state and regional initiatives

In just a few days, Sens. John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman will release their much-anticipated proposal for comprehensive climate and energy legislation — the best remaining shot at forging a bipartisan consensus on this issue in 2010. Their proposal has many strengths, but there’s an issue brewing that could undermine its effectiveness and drive up its costs. I wrote about this in a Boston Globe op-ed on Earth Day, April 22. Government officials from California, New England, New York, and other northeastern states are vociferously lobbying in Washington to retain their existing state and regional systems for reducing …