Climatic Change

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 399-414

First online:

Rethinking the Kyoto Emissions Targets

  • Mustafa H. BabikerAffiliated withJoint Program on the Science and Policy of Climate Change, M.I.T.
  • , Richard S. EckausAffiliated withJoint Program on the Science and Policy of Climate Change, M.I.T.Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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The overall targets for greenhouse gas emissions of the Kyoto Protocol are not based on a specific objective for the future world climate. Moreover, the allocations of emissions restrictions among countries do not have a principled logic and impose arbitrary differences in costs. Calculations arepresented of the costs of alternative guidelines for emissions restrictions, each of which has a plausible ethical basis: equal per capita reductions, equal country shares in reductions, equalized welfare costs, and emulation of the United Nations budget allocations. All of these would result in far lower total costs of reaching the Kyoto targets. The alternatives would also eliminate the wholly capricious accommodations given to the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The lower cost alternativeswould permit the Annex B countries to make unequivocal commitments for cost reimbursement to the non-Annex B countries to induce them to participate in emissions reductions. Everyone would gain from that.