Sivan Kartha

Senior Scientist


Somerville, MA
skartha@sei-us.org
skype: skartha
+1 (617) 627-3786 x5#

Sivan Kartha is a Senior Scientist at SEI and co-leader of the institute-wide research theme Reducing Climate Risk. His research and publications for the past 20 years have focused on technological options and policy strategies for addressing climate change, and he has concentrated most recently on equity and efficiency in the design of an international climate regime.

His most recent work has involved the elaboration of the Greenhouse Development Rights approach to burden-sharing in the global climate regime – an approach that places the urgency of the climate crisis in the context of the equally dire development crisis afflicting the world's poor majority.

Dr. Kartha has also worked on mitigation scenarios, market mechanisms for climate actions, and the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of biomass energy. 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 Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Cornell University in 1993.


Recent Publications by Sivan Kartha

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The Three Salient Global Mitigation Pathways Assessed in Light of the IPCC Carbon Budgets

SEI discussion brief, co-authored with EcoEquity

Author(s): Baer, P. ; Kartha, S. ; Athanasiou, T.
Year: 2013

Research Area(s): Climate Equity

Description: This briefing paper examines the levels of risk associated with three widely discussed global mitigation pathways: a 1.5°C marker pathway, a 2°C marker pathway, and a G8 marker pathway, in light of the latest IPCC report. These pathways or very similar ones them figure in a very large number of analyses and policy debates, as they correspond to three extremely important socio-political storylines. The authors assesses the three pathways in the light of Working Group I's recently released contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, which provides three specific global carbon dioxide (CO2) budgets, and associates them with specific risks of a global surface temperature increase of more than 2°C by the end of this century, relative to the 1850-1900 average.
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Biomass in a Low-Carbon Economy: Resource Scarcity, Climate Change, and Business in a Finite World (Policy brief)

SEI Policy Brief

Author(s): Kemp-Benedict, E. ; Kartha, S. ; Fencl, A.
Year: 2012

Research Area(s): Sustainable Futures ; Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This policy brief, based on a report produced through a partnership between the business leaders' initiative 3C (Combat Climate Change) and the Stockholm Environment Institute, gauges the availability of biomass for low-carbon energy and other uses in the context of sustainability and competing demands. It explores four scenarios for future biomass use, depending on the relative emphasis on climate change mitigation, agriculture, or both, and finds that while all of the scenarios require trade-offs, a "Sustainability Transition" that uses biomass for food, energy, industrial materials, and more could yield great benefits, helping address the urgent climate problem while spurring improvements in agriculture to boost food production and result in new agricultural products.
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Biomass in a Low-Carbon Economy: Resource Scarcity, Climate Change, and Business in a Finite World

SEI Project Report

Author(s): Kemp-Benedict, E. ; Kartha, S. ; Fencl, A.
Year: 2012

Research Area(s): Sustainable Futures ; Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This report, produced through a partnership between the business leaders' initiative 3C (Combat Climate Change) and the Stockholm Environment Institute, gauges the availability of biomass for low-carbon energy and other uses in the context of sustainability and competing demands. It explores four scenarios for future biomass use, depending on the relative emphasis on climate change mitigation, agriculture, or both, and finds that while all of the scenarios require trade-offs, a "Sustainability Transition" that uses biomass for food, energy, industrial materials, and more could yield great benefits, helping address the urgent climate problem while spurring improvements in agriculture to boost food production and result in new agricultural products.
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Comparison of Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 pledges under the Cancun Agreements (Policy Brief)

SEI Policy Brief

Author(s): Kartha, S. ; Erickson, P.
Year: 2011

Research Area(s): Climate Equity ; Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This policy brief, which summarizes SEI Working Paper No. 2011-06, of the same title, examines four recent detailed studies of countries' mitigation pledges under the Cancún Agreements, for the purpose of comparing developed (Annex 1) country pledges to developing (non-Annex 1) country pledges. It finds that there is broad agreement that developing country pledges amount to more mitigation than developed country pledges. That conclusion applies across all four studies and across all their various cases, despite the diversity of assumptions and methodologies employed and the substantial differences in their quantification of the pledges. The studies also find that the Annex 1 pledges could be significantly diminished by several factors, such as lenient accounting rules on the use of surplus allowances, double-counting of offsets, and loose accounting methodologies for land use, land-use change, and forestry, and they note that the mitigation pledged globally is consistent with a global temperature rise of greater than 2°C – and possibly as much as 5°C.
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Comparison of Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 pledges under the Cancun Agreements

SEI Working Paper 2011-06

Author(s): Kartha, S. ; Erickson, P.
Year: 2011

Research Area(s): Climate Equity ; Climate Mitigation Policy

Description: This report, based on an analysis conducted for Oxfam International, examines four recent detailed studies of countries' mitigation pledges under the Cancun Agreements, for the purpose of comparing developed (Annex 1) country pledges to developing (non-Annex 1) country pledges. It finds that there is broad agreement that developing country pledges amount to more mitigation than developed country pledges. The studies further note that the mitigation pledged globally is consistent with a global temperature rise of greater than 2°C – and possibly as much as 5°C. Avoiding this much warming would require developed countries to raise their pledges and fulfill them through actual mitigation.

Note: This paper was originally published in June 2011 as SEI-US Working Paper WP-US-1107. For a summary of the key findings, download this policy brief.
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