An Elaborated Global Climate Policy Architecture: Specific Formulas and Emission Targets for All Countries in All Decades
NBER Working Paper No. 14876
This paper analyzes a detailed plan to set quantitative national limits on emissions of greenhouse gases, following along the lines of the Kyoto Protocol. It is designed to fill in the most serious gaps: the absence of targets extending as far as 2100, the absence of participation by the United States and developing countries, and the absence of reason to think that countries will abide by commitments. The plan elaborates on the idea of a framework of formulas that can assign quantitative limits across countries, one budget period at a time. Unlike other century-long paths of emission targets that are based purely on science (concentration goals) or ethics (equal rights per capita) or economics (cost-benefit optimization), this plan is based partly on politics. Three political constraints are particularly important. (1) Developing countries are not asked to bear any cost in the early years. (2) Thereafter, they are not asked to make any sacrifice that is different in kind or degree than was made by those countries that went before them, with due allowance for differences in incomes. (3) No country is asked to accept an ex ante target that costs it more than, say, 1% of GDP in present value, or more than, say, 5% of GDP in any single budget period. They would not agree to ex ante targets that turned out to have such high costs, nor abide by them ex post. An announced target path that implies a future violation of these constraints will not be credible, and thus will not provide the necessary signals to firms today.