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Kyoto’s Climate Game and How to Fix It



The Kyoto summit initiated an international game of cap and trade. Unlike a national policy, the essence of this game is the self-selection of national emission targets. This differs from the standard global public-goods game because targets are met in the context of a global carbon market. This changes the outcome of the notoriously uncooperative public-goods game. The equilibrium of the new game may increase or decrease total abatement. If it increases abatement the resulting carbon price will be no greater than the average public-goods price. Typically, high abaters in the public goods game will target more abatement in the cap-and-trade game, while low abaters will target less. Given such a dismal outcome the policy game should be changed to the global price-target game. In the same setting where cap-and-trade reduces abatement, this game induces optimal abatement. But, realistically, it must include a Green Fund whose strength is linked to the price target. This will induce poor countries to favor as high a price target as rich countries, reversing the polarizing and anti-cooperative tendencies of cap and trade.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Cramton & Steven Stoft, 2010. "Kyoto’s Climate Game and How to Fix It," Papers of Peter Cramton 10kcg, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:pcc:pccumd:10kcg

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    More about this item


    global warming; climate change; climate treaty; cap and trade; carbon tax; carbon price; public goods;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation


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