26 September 2009

Going nowhere, doing nothing

Kyoto’s approach has not obviously paid off. Global carbon-dioxide emissions have grown by 25% since the protocol was adopted in 1997. That is partly because the treaty left out big emissions sources such as deforestation ..., but also because potential participants were put off by the idea of internationally binding commitments. Avoiding a crash at Copenhagen, 'Economist', 26 September
Quite. There are no meaningful incentives actually to comply with Kyoto. All the costs are upfront and obvious; all the benefits well into the future, and diffuse. The fact is that if we want to cut emissions, we have to provide incentives to cut emissions. I'd go further: if we want to reduce climate instability (or the damage done by climate instability) then we have to provide incentives to reduce climate instability. All the portentous talk and well-intentioned but meaningless declarations of intent by the world's top politicians will not alter these facts.

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