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Comparing Climate Commitments: A Model-Based Analysis of the Copenhagen Accord


  • Warwick J. McKibbin
  • Adele C. Morris
  • Peter J. Wilcoxen


The political accord struck by world leaders at the United Nations negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009 allows participating countries to express their greenhouse gas commitments in a variety of ways. For example, developed countries promised different percent emissions reductions relative to different base years by 2020. China and India committed to reducing their emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) relative to 2005 by 40 and 20 percent respectively. Such flexibility promotes consensus by allowing each country to use its preferred commitment formulation. However, the disparate approaches and widely varying baseline trends across different economies complicate comparing the likely emissions reductions and economic efforts required to achieve the commitments. This paper provides such a comparison by analyzing the Copenhagen targets using the G-Cubed model of the global economy. We begin by formulating a no-policy baseline projection for major world economies. We then model the Copenhagen Accord’s economy-wide commitments, with a focus on fossil-fuel-related CO2. We show how different formulations make the same targets appear quite different in stringency, and we estimate and compare the likely economic and environmental performance of major emitters’ Copenhagen targets. The analysis also explores the spillover effects of emission reductions efforts on countries that did not adopt economy-wide emissions targets at Copenhagen.

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  • Warwick J. McKibbin & Adele C. Morris & Peter J. Wilcoxen, 2010. "Comparing Climate Commitments: A Model-Based Analysis of the Copenhagen Accord," CAMA Working Papers 2010-24, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:camaaa:2010-24

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Warwick J. McKibbin & Adele Morris & Peter J. Wilcoxen & Yiyong Cai, 2009. "Consequences Of Alternative U.S. Cap-And-Trade Policies: Controlling Both Emissions And Costs," CAMA Working Papers 2009-18, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    2. Rob Dellink & Gregory Briner & Christa Clapp, 2010. "Costs, Revenues, and Effectiveness of the Copenhagen Accord Emission Pledges for 2020," OECD Environment Working Papers 22, OECD Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frank Jotzo, 2010. "Comparing the Copenhagen Emissions Targets," CCEP Working Papers 0110, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    2. repec:wsi:ccexxx:v:02:y:2011:i:01:n:s2010007811000206 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:eneeco:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:116-128 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Stern, David I. & Jotzo, Frank, 2010. "How ambitious are China and India's emissions intensity targets?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 6776-6783, November.
    5. Standardi, Gabriele & Cai, Yiyong & Yeh, Sonia, 2017. "Sensitivity of modeling results to technological and regional details: The case of Italy's carbon mitigation policy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 116-128.
    6. William Pizer & Joseph Aldy & Keigo Akimoto, 2015. "Comparing Emissions Mitigation Efforts across Countries," Working Papers id:7843, eSocialSciences.
    7. Aldy, Joseph E. & Pizer, William A., 2014. "Comparability of Effort in International Climate Policy Architecture," Working Paper Series rwp14-006, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    8. Aldy, Joseph E. & Pizer, William A. & Akimoto, Keigo, 2015. "A natural outcome of the emerging pledge and review approach to international climate change policy is the interest in comparing mitigation efforts among countries. Domestic publics and stakeholders w," Discussion Papers dp-15-32, Resources For the Future.
    9. Aldy, Joseph Edgar & Pizer, William, 2016. "Alternative Metrics for Comparing Domestic Climate Change Mitigation Efforts and the Emerging International Climate Policy Architecture," Scholarly Articles 22808338, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    10. repec:spr:annopr:v:255:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10479-015-1927-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. McKibbin, Warwick J. & Wilcoxen, Peter J., 2013. "A Global Approach to Energy and the Environment," Handbook of Computable General Equilibrium Modeling, Elsevier.
    12. Frank Jotzo & Steve Hatfield-Dodds, 2011. "Price Floors in Emissions Trading to Reduce Policy Related Investment Risks: an Australian View," CCEP Working Papers 1105, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

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