This article describes three essential elements of an effective post-2012 international climate policy architecture: a framework to ensure that key industrialized and developing nations are involved in differentiated but meaningful ways, an emphasis on an extended time path for emissions targets, and the inclusion of flexible market-based policy instruments to keep costs down and facilitate international equity. This overall architecture is consistent with fundamental aspects of the science, economics, and politics of global climate change; addresses specific shortcomings of the Kyoto Protocol; and builds on the foundation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
One of the major outcomes of the Durban Climate Conference in 2011 was the 'Durban Platform for Enhanced Action' - a non-binding agreement to forge a new treaty by 2015 that will bring all countries under the same legal regime by 2020. This article will explain why the 'Durban Platform for Enhanced Action' has opened an important window in climate talks.
Emissions of greenhouse gases linked with global climate change are affected by diverse aspects of economic activity, including individual consumption, business investment, and government spending. An effective climate policy will have to modify the decision calculus for these activities in the direction of more efficient generation and use of energy, lower carbon-intensity of energy, and a more carbon-lean economy. The only technically feasible and cost-effective approach to achieving this goal on a meaningful scale is carbon pricing: that is, market-based climate policies that place a shadow-price on carbon dioxide emissions. We examine alternative designs of three such instruments: carbon taxes, cap and trade, and clean energy standards. We note that the U.S. political response to possible market-based approaches to climate policy has been, and will continue to be, largely a function of issues and structural factors that transcend the scope of environmental and climate policy.
Abstract An implication of the Coase theorem is that under certain conditions, the market equilibrium in a cap-and-trade system will be cost-effective and independent of the initial allocation of tradable rights. That is, the overall cost of achieving a given aggregate emission reduction will be minimized, and the final allocation of permits will be independent of the initial allocation. We call this the independence property. This property is important because it means that the government can establish the overall pollution reduction goal for a cap-and-trade system by setting the cap and leaving it up to the legislature to construct a constituency in support of the program by allocating the allowances to various interests without affecting either the environmental performance of the system or its aggregate social costs. We examine the conditions under which the independence property is likely to hold—both in theory and in practice.