Project Description: 

Greenhouse gas emissions must fall by nearly half over the next decade to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Towards that end, the Agreement establishes a “pledge-and-review” system under which countries make pledges (“nationally determined contributions,” or NDCs) every five years, report on their progress, and then undergo international review. Yet while the literature is rich with modeling studies showing how domestic policy needs to change in order to deliver on these pledges, how and under what circumstances NDCs interact with domestic policy - such as near-term investments - to mitigate climate change is poorly understood. 

Our project helps address this gap by exploring the relationship between NDCs and COVID-19 recovery packages. We pose the following questions: How ambitious are the climate measures in countries’ updated NDCs and in their COVID-19 recovery packages? To what extent do they correlate? Which political and economic drivers can explain country differences in climate ambition of NDCs and recovery packages? 

Addressing these questions will allow us to identify progress towards higher climate ambition not only based on symbolic goals and targets of NDCs, but also based on implemented policies in the context of the large recovery packages. By focusing on the role of national green coalitions and international financial institutions in explaining variation, we contribute to research on climate ambition at the intersection of recent political science and economics literature. Beyond academic insights, our project will deliver policy recommendations on how to lay the foundations for higher climate ambition. 

Undergraduate's Role: 

We seek undergraduates to gain research experience by assisting with tasks such as the following:

  • Compiling and cleaning datasets on NDCs and economic recovery spending from a range of sources
  • Investigating differences among datasets and proposing solutions to inconsistencies
  • Reviewing literature and summarizing results
  • Creating figures using Excel, Python, and/or R

This project will launch during fall semester and research needs - and associated undergraduate tasks - may evolve. The undergraduate(s) may also assist with other, related projects pertaining to countries’ climate change mitigation commitments.  

Undergraduate's Qualifications: 
  1. Facility working with quantitative data, such as greenhouse gas emissions data and/or economic data
  2. Experience working with spreadsheets (e.g. Excel, Google Sheets)
  3. Relevant coursework, such as ER 100 (Energy and Society) and/or ER C176 (Climate Change Economics)
  4. Strong reading comprehension skills and attention to detail
  5. Enthusiasm for engaging in both quantitative and qualitative research methods
  6. Interest in climate change, public policy, international relations, and related topics
  7. Availability to attend regular research meetings
On Campus
To be negotiated