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Can an Effective Global Climate Treaty Be Based on Sound Science, Rational Economics, and Pragmatic Politics?

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  • Stavins, Robert

Abstract

The Kyoto Protocol (1997) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) may come into force without U.S. participation, but its effects on climate change will be trivial. At the same time, the economic and scientific consensus points to the need for a credible international approach. A reasonable starting point is the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), which was signed by 161 nations and ratified by 50, including the United States, and entered into force in 1994. In this paper, I remain agnostic on the question of the Kyoto Protocol’s viability. Some analysts see the agreement as deeply flawed, while others see it as an acceptable or even excellent first step. But virtually everyone agrees that the Protocol is not sufficient to the overall challenge, and that further, subsequent steps will be required. This is my starting point for proposing a three-part policy architecture: first, all nations would be involved through the use of economic trigger mechanisms, such as growth targets; second, long-term targets would be required — in the short-term, firm, but moderate targets, and in the long-term, flexible, but much more stringent targets; and third, market-based policy instruments would be part of the package — emissions trading, carbon taxes, or hybrids of the two. This overall approach can be made to be scientifically sound, economically rational, and politically pragmatic.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-04-28.

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Date of creation: 14 May 2004
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-04-28

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Keywords: global climate change; global warming; policy architecture; Kyoto Protocol;

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  1. Stavins, Robert, 1997. "Policy Instruments for Climate Change: How Can National Governments Address a Global Problem?," Discussion Papers dp-97-11, Resources For the Future.
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  3. Stavins, Robert, 2001. "Experience with Market-Based Environmental Policy Instruments," Discussion Papers dp-01-58, Resources For the Future.
  4. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
  5. Warwick J. McKibbin & Peter J. Wilcoxen, 2002. "The Role of Economics in Climate Change Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 107-129, Spring.
  6. Stavins, Robert, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Global Climate Change Policy: A Primer," Working Paper Series rwp00-003, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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  8. Toman, Michael & Shogren, Jason, 2000. "Climate Change Policy," Discussion Papers dp-00-22, Resources For the Future.
  9. Kolstad, Charles D. & Toman, Michael, 2005. "The Economics of Climate Policy," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1561-1618 Elsevier.
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  11. Jaffe, Adam B. & Newell, Richard G. & Stavins, Robert N., 2003. "Chapter 11 Technological change and the environment," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 461-516 Elsevier.
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