12 June 2008

Diverse approaches are essential

Perhaps the most alarming sentence in Mark Lynas' article in the (UK) Guardian is this:
[C]onventional wisdom from governments and environmental groups alike insists that "Kyoto is the only game in town", and that proposing any alternative is dangerous heresy. Climate chaos is inevitable

One of the advantages of a Social Policy Bond regime is that it allows multiple approaches. The stakes could hardly be higher than with climate change, yet we are attempting to deal with it with a single approach; one which is a product of 1990s science and all sorts of political compromises. Kyoto is divisive, and imposes upfront costs for a very uncertain, remote return. No wonder then that it lacks any real support except from those who are so involved in process that they see it as an end in itself. At OECD, when talking about environmental applications of the Social Policy Bond principle several years ago, I encountered similar opposition from employees of OECD governments who were committed to Kyoto.

Climate Stability Bonds are compatible with cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Kyoto style. But they would also encourage other policies and projects, provided they were more efficient. They would also make application of the Kyoto approach more efficient, by rewarding people commensurately with their efficiency, rather than for the degree to which they comply with the Kyoto process. Sadly, I think there's a chance that we're too late even to avert the oblivion to which Mr Lynas occurs; if so, our single-minded focus on Kyoto should bear much of the blame.

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