Analyzing Risks and Incentives for Global Climate Policy Challenges

August 7, 2018

By Tasfia Nayem, Master of Environmental Management student

Tasfia NayemWhen Professor Jonathan Wiener first mentioned D-CIPHER, a project with which he was involved, my interest was immediately piqued. As a graduate student studying international climate policy, I was excited to dissect the Montreal Protocol to glean best practices and lessons learned to use in my career.

While the content I learned over the course of the semester was directly relevant to my career interests and immensely useful in my fellowship on international climate mitigation, I left the project with so much more than information about the treaty.

Also valuable is the deep and critical exploration that D-CIPHER encouraged on general strategies to approach policy on complex international environmental challenges. These challenges involve risk-risk tradeoffs, evolving science, conflicting intergovernmental incentives, diverse stakeholders and degrees of uncertainty. The project provided me with a framework through which I can analyze international challenges more broadly, beyond the Montreal Protocol, to develop robust and durable solutions that account for countervailing risks and harness stakeholders’ incentives to ensure ambitious climate progress.

The strong interdisciplinary nature of the project helped frame the issue of climate change through a number of perspectives: science, law, philosophy, engineering, policy, ethics. The project also provided the opportunity to have intimate discussions with leaders of the field. I gained insights from top officials of the Protocol, NGO thought leaders involved in its passage, scientists who were critical in identifying the problems of ozone depletion and climate change – and even the lead U.S. negotiator who shaped the way the Protocol exists today.

D-CIPHER provided a hands-on – and minds-on – learning experience that perfectly complemented my academic coursework. I have already been using insights from the project in my career, and will continue carrying this knowledge with me as I work to progress ambitious climate action.

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