Author page for Sivan Kartha


Sivan Kartha

Sivan Kartha is a Senior Scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute and co-leader of the institute-wide research theme Reducing Climate Risk. His research and publications for the past twenty years have focused on technological options and policy strategies for addressing climate change. His work has enabled him to advise and collaborate with diverse organizations, including the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), various UN and World Bank programs, numerous government policy-making bodies and agencies, foundations, and civil society organizations throughout the developing and industrialized world. He is an author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (Working Group III), co-leading the chapter on Sustainable Development and Equity. He received his PhD in theoretical physics from Cornell University in 1993.



Tellus Publications (Selected)


Climate Change: Redemption through Crisis

Sivan Kartha

Sivan Kartha explores the complexity of the climate problem and ways to address it. He considers contrasting optimistic and pessimistic narratives of the future, and outlines a Great Transition society living in peace with its climatic constraints. He then discusses the pathway toward such a society.

Essay #13 in the GTI Paper Series: Frontiers of a Great Transition

Cutting the Gordian Knot: Adequacy, Realism and Equity

Sivan Kartha, Tom Athanasiou, P. Baer, D. Cornland

Despite the almost impossible complexity of the climate deadlock, it is possible to map its most profound contours. They range, unsurprisingly, outside the traditional domains of climate politics, across lands defined by post-Cold War geopolitics, the struggle for development, the challenges of sustainability. For all this, however, they define a tangle—a Gordian Knot—in which three principle strands may be clearly discerned: adequacy, realism, and equity. To help map the way forward, this paper proposes the concept of an "equity reference framework"—a framework that allows us to ask, before we prejudge what is and isn't realistic, what would actually be fair. There will be no adequate way forward that does not involve a radical redefinition of realism.

South-North Dialogue: Equity in the Greenhouse

H. Ott, Sivan Kartha, B. Brouns, H. Winkler

Regardless of when or whether the Kyoto Protocol enters into force, the challenge of future climate negotiations will be to embed the next steps in a long-term framework that aims at an adequate and equitable global climate agreement that takes into account the right to sustainable development of all countries. This proposal examines equitable approaches to mitigation—including both deep cuts in the North and differentiated mitigation commitments for developing countries. It also examines adaptation, as no agreement will be equitable or adequate if it fails to incorporate appropriate burden sharing mechanisms to address the needs of those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Baseline Recommendations for Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Projects in the Electric Power Sector

Michael Lazarus, Sivan Kartha

This report constructs a decision framework that can be applied to all electricity projects. No single methodology can suit all the potential diversity of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism projects in the electricity sector, which span a wide range of scales, fuels, and technologies and will take place in a varied set of electric sector contexts, both on and off the grid. This paper proposes a three-category framework for the different projects, with baseline and additionality methods specific to each, in order to balance the objectives of low transaction costs and environmental accuracy.

Coal: America's Past, America's Future

Steve Bernow, Michael Lazarus, Sivan Kartha

As this report shows, a coal-focused national energy strategy would be fundamentally misguided. Wearing foggy and myopic lenses, one might perceive the California power crunch, high natural gas prices, and talk of "clean coal" as ample economic and technical justification for more coal. But closer and clearer examination reveals that there is a long way to go before coal will be truly, if ever, clean and an even longer way before such coal would be competitive. Policy efforts to promote coal would threaten to seriously exacerbate pollution, climate change, and health risks and would would render the chances of international accord in tackling global climate change even more remote.

Powering America: Myths vs. Facts in the US Energy and Global Warming Debates

Steve Bernow, Michael Lazarus, Sivan Kartha

This report provides fact-based arguments disproving the current myths of today's "energy crisis." It covers such topics as foreign oil dependency, domestic production of oil, renewable energy, California's energy crisis, and global warming.

Clean Energy: Jobs for America's Future

Alison Bailie, Steve Bernow, William Dougherty, Michael Lazarus, Sivan Kartha

In order to create a responsible, forward-looking energy policy, the United States will need to examine a number of important issues. Will the policy help meet America’s energy needs? Will it enhance national security? Will it contribute to a strong economy? Will it help meet America’s needs for a safe and healthy environment? In order to begin to answer these questions, World Wildlife Fund commissioned the Tellus Institute to consider the potential impacts of implementing a broad suite of clean energy policies over the next twenty years. This study analyzes the employment, macroeconomic, energy, and environmental impacts of implementing such policies.

Using Modern Bioenergy to Reduce Rural Poverty

Sivan Kartha, Gerald Leach

This report considers village-scale biomass energy as a means of providing modern energy services to the billions who lack them, thus helping to reduce poverty. It concludes that there are large opportunities for meeting this goal effectively, affordably, and sustainably. However, persistent world-wide efforts to develop and improve bioenergy systems will be needed to achieve this goal and to resolve some key problems associated with bioenergy.

Cleaner Generation, Free Riders, and Environmental Integrity: Clean Development Mechanism and the Power Sector

Steve Bernow, Sivan Kartha, Michael Lazarus, Thomas Page

This study provides a first-cut estimate of the potential carbon emissions impacts of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), focusing on new power plants in the power sector of non-Annex 1 countries. We conclude that while the CDM could induce some legitimate lower-emission electricity generation in host countries, it could also give rise to a considerable amount of spurious emissions allowances by crediting non-additional ("free-rider") activities—activities that would have taken place even in the absence of the CDM. We find that under some plausible CDM regimes, the CDM could serve primarily as an instrument for generating spurious credits, and only secondarily as an instrument for economic efficiency or sustainable development.

America's Global Warming Solutions

Steve Bernow, Sivan Kartha, William Dougherty, Karlynn Cory, Maxim Duckworth, Michael Ruth

This study finds that the US could reduce its carbon emissions to its Kyoto target and, indeed, to significantly below that target. Moreover, this can be achieved with overall net savings in the costs of energy and energy-using equipment. These policies and measures yield many other benefits, such as for human and ecosystem health, technological innovation, and job growth. They would also demonstrate clearly to the rest of the world the seriousness with which the US is acting to meet its climate protection responsibilities and, thereby, to help advance the goals of the climate convention.