Rethinking the Kyoto emissions targets
by Babiker, M.H. and R.S. Eckaus
Climatic Change, 54(4):399-414, 2002
(Supersedes Report 65)
The international allocation of responsibilities for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, as foreseen in the Kyoto Protocol, would create a public good. Yet the 1990 level of emissions that is used in the Protocol, as the base from which the reductions would be made, and the reductions targets themselves, are quite arbitrary and not based on a specific target for the future world climate. In addition, the particular allocations of greenhouse gas emissions restrictions among countries do not have a principled logic. This arbitrariness has led to allocations that impose sharply different costs on the participating countries that have no consistent relation to their income or wealth.
Calculations are presented of the implications of alternative allocations of emissions reductions that do have a plausible ethical basis: equal per capita reductions, equal country shares in reductions, equalized welfare costs, and emulation of the allocations of the United Nations budget. All of these would reach the overall Kyoto target at lower overall costs than the emissions allocations in the Protocol itself. This would be achieved through the participation of the developing countries, in which the costs of emissions reductions are relatively low. In addition, use of any of the alternative allocations analyzed here would eliminate the wholly capricious accommodation given to the countries of the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
The additional costs to the developing countries, for most of the alternative allocations, are so low that the Annex B countries could pay them to accede to a new emissions reduction schedule and still have lower costs than those imposed by the Kyoto allocations. This conclusion puts the Annex B countries in the anachronistic position of advocating an arbitrary and relatively high cost allocation of emissions reductions. The lower cost alternative is to make such an unequivocal commitment for reimbursement to the non-Annex B countries that they would be persuaded to reduce their own emissions. Everyone would gain from that.
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