Alternatives to the Kyoto Protocol:A New Climate Policy Framework?

In IRES Vol.5 No.1
Peer-reviewed Article
cover image

Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the international community has sought to find a policy framework to address the threat of human-induced climate change. The most significant action to date has been the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997. Given Russia’s recent decision to ratify the protocol it is now likely to enter into force early in 2005 despite its repudiation by the United States. The protocol includes legally-binding emission reductions for some countries over the period 2008 to 2012. It has not yet been possible, however, to find an approach that is truly global and that is aligned with the long-term environmental goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to a “safe” level. A framework for action that addresses these shortcomings is developed in this paper. The underlying tenets are environmental effectiveness, economic efficiency, and equity. The importance of an appropriate timeframe for action is acknowledged, and involvement by all major emitting countries is facilitated. Importantly, this last point includes participation by developing countries in a way that accommodates their aspirations for economic growth. The crucial role of technology is recognized and is drawn into the solution. Together these elements allow a response that minimizes costs and maximizes the environmental outcome while at the same time enhancing the growth prospects of developing countries.
Keywords: Climate change, United States climate policy, Kyoto Protocol, US presidential election, International climate cooperation

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Brian S. Fisher
Kate Woffenden
Anna Matysek
Melanie Ford
Vivek Tulpulé