15 April 2007

A New Agenda for Global Warming

While many would be happy if the US would just go ahead and sign the Kyoto protocols, Joeseph Stiglitz points out some weaknesses in the concept. For starters he maintains that by failing to sign the Kyoto accord, the US is unfairly subsidizing energy production. He suggests that Japan, Europe and other signatories immediately bring a case against the US in the WTO for unfair subsidization.

He goes on to talk about the unfair distribution of the "rights" to pollute between the developed and the developing world embodied in the protocols:

"The Kyoto protocol is based on national emission reductions relative to each nation’s level in 1990. The developing countries ask, why should the developed countries be allowed to pollute more now simply because they polluted more in the past? In fact, because the developed countries have already contributed so much, they should be forced to reduce more. The world seems at an impasse: the United States refuses to go along unless developing countries are brought into the fold; and the developing countries see no reason why they should not be allowed to pollute as much per capita as the United States or Europe. Indeed, given their poverty and the costs associated with reducing emissions, one might give them even more leeway. But, given their low levels of income, that would imply that no restraints would be imposed on them for decades.

There is a way out, and that is through a common (global) environmental tax on emissions. There is a social cost to emissions, and the common environmental tax would simply make everyone pay the social cost. This is in accord with the most basic of economic principles, that individuals and firms should pay their full (marginal) costs."

He's got a point.

To read more follow the link below...

The Economists' Voice
A New Agenda for Global Warming
Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University

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