Climatic Change

, Volume 111, Issue 2, pp 241–248 | Cite as

Limitations of single-basket trading: lessons from the Montreal Protocol for climate policy

  • John S. Daniel
  • Susan Solomon
  • Todd J. Sanford
  • Mack McFarland
  • Jan S. Fuglestvedt
  • Pierre Friedlingstein


Numerous policy options exist to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. A single-basket approach, which controls aggregate emissions, was adopted by the Kyoto Protocol. Such an approach allows emissions reductions of one gas to be traded with those of other gases in the “basket”, with the trade “price” determined by some weighting metric like the Global Warming Potential. To reduce stratospheric ozone depletion, the Montreal Protocol also dealt with controlling many compounds, but did so employing an alternative, multi-basket scheme. Trading was allowed within each basket, but not among baskets. While the Montreal Protocol has been highly successful using this approach, we show that if a single-basket approach had been adopted the short-term success could have been at risk due to the non-unique relationship between controls and environmental impacts when using a single basket. Using climate policy as an example, and without considering technological and economic constraints, we further show that the magnitude of the ambiguities in impacts associated with a single-basket approach depends on the rapidity of the emission phaseout. Fast phaseouts lead to less ambiguity than do slow ones. These results suggest that for each set of greenhouse gas control policies considered, the benefit of additional flexibility associated with a single-basket approach should be weighed against the associated increased uncertainties in the impacts to ascertain whether a single- or a multi-basket approach has the greater chance of successfully mitigating climate change.


Ozone Emission Reduction Climate Policy Kyoto Protocol Stratospheric Ozone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank G.-K. Plattner for providing the Bern carbon cycle model to us and for participating in many helpful discussions regarding its use. JSD and SS acknowledge funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Atmospheric Composition and Climate Program. JSF’s contribution was funded by the Norwegian Research Council within the project “Climate and health impacts of Short-Lived Atmospheric Components (SLAC)”.

Supplementary material

10584_2011_136_MOESM1_ESM.doc (56 kb)
Supplementary Information (DOC 55 kb)


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Copyright information

© U.S. Government 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • John S. Daniel
    • 1
  • Susan Solomon
    • 1
  • Todd J. Sanford
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mack McFarland
    • 4
  • Jan S. Fuglestvedt
    • 5
  • Pierre Friedlingstein
    • 6
  1. 1.Chemical Sciences Division, Earth System Research LaboratoryNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental SciencesBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Union of Concerned Scientists, Climate & Energy ProgramWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.DuPont Chemicals and FluoroproductsWilmingtonUSA
  5. 5.CICERO (Center for International Climate and Environmental Research—Oslo)BlindernNorway
  6. 6.College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical SciencesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK

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