Journal Article

Political economy of the Kyoto Protocol

S Barrett

in Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Published on behalf of The Oxford Review of Economic Policy Ltd

Volume 14, issue 4, pages 20-39
Published in print December 1998 | ISSN: 0266-903X
Published online December 1998 | e-ISSN: 1460-2121 | DOI:
Political economy of the Kyoto Protocol

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  • Economic Development and Growth
  • Public Economics
  • Political Economy
  • Public Policy


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The Kyoto Protocol, negotiated in December 1997, is the first international treaty to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. But Kyoto does not mark the conclusion to international cooperation on climate change. It is really just a beginning. This paper shows that, in the aggregate, the benefits of undertaking the Kyoto reductions should exceed the corresponding costs provided these are achieved cost-effectively. But, although Kyoto seeks to promote cost-effectiveness, it may yet prove very costly. Moreover, the agreement may not even achieve the reductions that it promises, either because emissions will relocate to the countries that are not required to stay within Kyoto-prescribed ceilings or because 'paper' trades will be promoted by the protocol's mechanisms. More fundamentally, Kyoto does not deter non-compliance, and it only weakly deters non-participation. These flaws need to be mended, but the nature of the problem makes that an especially difficult task.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth ; Public Economics ; Political Economy ; Public Policy

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