Improving on Kyoto: Greenhouse Gas Control as the Purchase of a Global Public Good
One way to obtain a global public good is to set up an institution to buy it, with the nations of the world contributing to the cost according to whatever sharing arrangements make political sense. An example would be the purchase of the services of national armed forces to carry out peacekeeping, with the cost separately apportioned. In these notes I suggest a way to exploit this approach to limiting accumulations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The “service” that produces the control is the reduction, by nations, in the levels of emissions over time from what they would otherwise choose, also known as the “business as usual” emissions path. In the scheme as envisioned, which could be used in a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, the fact that all nations are sellers of reductions ameliorates the enforcement problems typical of commitments to particular emission paths. Another difference from the Kyoto-style system: In the scheme sketched here, the distributive of burdens is explicit, rather than implicit in the allowable emission amounts. The conflation of distributive and allocational issues is, arguably, an unnecessary source of contention in the design of institutions to control anthropogenic effects on the climate system.
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