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GSPA Open Climate Policy Database

Through the GSPA, student researchers from Cornell University, the University of Chicago, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Cambridge worked over the summer and autumn of 2020 to create a database revealing the climate policy commitments of 193 countries.


The teams from each university first conducted initial research on areas of climate policy, proposing 13 possible policy areas. Researchers voted, selecting Energy Production, Agriculture, Environmental Extraction of Fossil Fuels (hereinafter Extraction), Environmental Justice, and Emissions Reporting as the five most important topic areas. The areas were then reduced to four, as it was determined that an environmental justice lens should be incorporated throughout our data collection where quantifiably possible, rather than be siloed separately. The teams wrote summary briefs on each of the four topic areas following  in-depth investigations, including background information on extractive practices, definitions and terms, country-level policies, and international agreements, with the goal of turning the deep-dive investigations into multiple research columns to comprise the database. 


After writing the deep-dives, each team contributed to the development of the database, with a mixture of columns to be filled out by researchers and columns to be filled using external sources. All researchers filled out the information for 10 countries into a database of 194 different columns, excluding the “Characteristics” section pulled from external sources, encompassing all 4 topic areas. Many columns in the database were kept to simplified, broad metrics to account for measurement and reporting discrepancies between countries. For example, future energy mix is not quantified but instead noted as a simple ‘increase’, ‘decrease’ or ‘maintain’ for ease of data collection. Additionally, in the Extraction section, policies for fracking and gas flaring are noted simply as a policy present or absent dichotomy. Characteristics data for each country adds to our data by providing context for the development status of each country (i.e. annex status in the UNFCCC, urban population, GDP per capita, GINI), and the corruption perception index provides a context for how much government-published data can be taken for face-value.

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