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

  • Stavins, Robert

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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  1. Pizer, William & Newell, Richard, 1998. "Regulating Stock Externalities Under Uncertainty," Discussion Papers dp-99-10-rev, Resources For the Future.
  2. 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.
  3. Stavins, Robert, 2000. "Experience with Market-Based Environmental Policy Instruments," Working Paper Series rwp00-004, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  4. 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.
  5. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Schneider, Stephen H., 1999. "Induced technological change and the attractiveness of CO2 abatement policies," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 211-253, August.
  6. Aldy, Joseph & Barrett, Scott & Stavins, Robert, 2003. "Thirteen Plus One: A Comparison of Global Climate Policy Architectures," Working Paper Series rwp03-012, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  7. Warwick J. McKibbin & Peter J Wilcoxen, 2003. "Estimates of the Costs of Kyoto-Marrakesh Versus The McKibbin-Wilcoxen Blueprint," Departmental Working Papers 2003-14, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
  8. Stavins, Robert & Hahn, Robert, 1999. "What Has Kyoto Wrought? The Real Architecture of International Tradable Permit Markets," Discussion Papers dp-99-30, Resources For the Future.
  9. Adam B. Jaffe & Richard G. Newell & Robert N. Stavins, 2000. "Technological Change and the Environment," NBER Working Papers 7970, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
  11. Richard Schmalensee & Paul L. Joskow & A. Denny Ellerman & Juan Pablo Montero & Elizabeth M. Bailey, 1998. "An Interim Evaluation of Sulfur Dioxide Emissions Trading," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 53-68, Summer.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Bruvoll, Annegrete & Larsen, Bodil Merethe, 2004. "Greenhouse gas emissions in Norway: do carbon taxes work?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 493-505, March.
  15. Toman, Michael & Shogren, Jason, 2000. "Climate Change Policy," Discussion Papers dp-00-22, Resources For the Future.
  16. 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.
  17. Pizer, William A., 2002. "Combining price and quantity controls to mitigate global climate change," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 409-434, September.
  18. Axel Michaelowa & Marcus Stronzik & Frauke Eckermann & Alistair Hunt, 2003. "Transaction costs of the Kyoto Mechanisms," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(3), pages 261-278, September.
  19. Sergey V. Paltsev, 2001. "The Kyoto Protocol: Regional and Sectoral Contributions to the Carbon Leakage," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 53-80.
  20. Barrett, Scott & Stavins, Robert, 2002. "Increasing Participation and Compliance in International Climate Change Agreements," Working Paper Series rwp02-031, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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  22. Jacoby, Henry D. & Ellerman, A. Denny, 2004. "The safety valve and climate policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 481-491, March.
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  24. Michael Grubb, 2003. "The Economics of the Kyoto Protocol," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 4(3), pages 143-189, July.
  25. Roberts, Marc J. & Spence, Michael, 1976. "Effluent charges and licenses under uncertainty," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 193-208.
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  27. Sugiyama, Taishi & Deshun, Liu, 2004. "Must developing countries commit quantified targets? Time flexibility and equity in climate change mitigation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 697-704, March.
  28. Nigel Harris & David Coleman, 2003. "Does Britain Need More Immigrants? A Debate," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 4(2), pages 57-102, April.
  29. Stavins Robert N., 1995. "Transaction Costs and Tradeable Permits," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 133-148, September.
  30. Robert N. Stavins, 1998. "What Can We Learn from the Grand Policy Experiment? Lessons from SO2 Allowance Trading," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 69-88, Summer.
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