February 28, 2007
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Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 9, NUMBER 1, JANUARY 1996
"The United Nations Climate Convention: Unattainable or Irrelevant,"
P.E. Kauppi (Finnish Forest Res. Inst., Unioninkatu 40A, Fin-00170 Helsinki,
Finalnd), Science, 270(5241), 1454, Dec. 1, 1995.
The convention seeks "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in
the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic
interference with the climate system." This note argues that, based on the
historical trend of CO2 emissions and concentrations, and future emission
scenarios, sufficiently low concentrations will be unattainable for at least 50
years. On the other hand, if climate model projections are wrong, there will be
no need to control emissions and the convention is irrelevant. The more likely
scenario is that the convention is relevant but unattainable.
"The Equitable International Allocation of Tradable Carbon Emission
Permits," W. Beckerman (Balliol College, Oxford, U.K.), J. Pasek, Global
Environ. Change, 5(5), 405-413, Dec. 1995.
There has been considerable discussion recently of various "equitable"
methods for allocating carbon emission permits among countries with widely
conflicting interests. This paper argues that genuine considerations of equity
will play little role in the development of any international allocations of
emission permits, as already demonstrated by the 1995 Berlin conference of
parties to the climate convention. The main reason is that no clear principles
of distributive justice among nations exist. Suggests that an international
agency should be allowed to sell or lease some of the total permits and to use
the revenues to aid the most needy individuals in society, regardless of where
they live. The remaining permits should be distributed among countries according
to criteria that enjoy wide acceptability in negotiation situations involving
mutual shares in collective burdens.
"Creating a Global Warming Implementation Regime," L.D.D.
Harvey (Dept. Geog., Univ. Toronto, 100 St. George St., Toronto ON M5S 1A1,
Can.), ibid., 415-432.
Critiques international policy instruments that have been proposed
previously, then proposes a unique, multiple approach which addresses the issues
of equity, flexibility, cost minimization, and population growth. The key
element combines annual tradable permits (based on population in a fixed year)
with a small carbon tax on emissions in excess of permits. The plan has several
advantages, but both developed and developing countries have to make an
important compromise from their currently held positions. Developed countries
must accept a permit allocation based on population, and developing countries
accept that this allocation be based on population in a fixed year (subject to
one future adjustment).
"Methane Embodied in the International Trade of CommoditiesImplications
for Global Emissions," S. Subak (CSERGE, Univ. E. Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ,
UK), ibid., 433-446.
Current methods of estimating the methane emissions of individual countries
do not account for emissions released abroad in the production of imported
agricultural products. Importation of the most methane-intensive agricultural
goodsrice, meat and milkfor six major developed countries is
equivalent to about 7% of livestock emissions within those importing countries.
This amount could grow considerably as traditional subsidies and levies are
removed, threatening the attainment of national targets for emissions. Trade
should be considered when estimating national emissions, but the more practical
and equitable approach is to extend greenhouse gas emissions targets to all
countries, using some scheme for transferring resources where needed.
"Dynamic Incentives of Environmental Regulations: The Effects of
Alternative Policy Instruments on Technology Diffusion," A.B. Jaffe (Dept.
Econ., Brandeis Univ., Waltham MA 02254), R.N. Stavins, J. Environ. Econ. &
Mgmt., 29(3), S43-S63, Nov. 1995 Part 2.
Develops a framework for quantitatively comparing the effects of "market-based"
and "command-and-control" approaches by estimating the economic
penalty that businesses, through their actions, reveal to be associated with
violation of environmental regulations. In the context of climate change,
examines the effects of taxes, technology adoption subsidies, and technology
standards. Employs state-level data on the diffusion of thermal insulation in
new home construction, to compare the effects of energy prices, insulation cost,
and building codes.
"The Relative Role of Trace Gas Emissions in Greenhouse Abatement
Policies," M. Kandlikar (Dept. Eng. & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon
Univ., Pittsburgh PA 15213), Energy Policy, 23(10), 879-883,
Representations of scientific and economic processes are combined in an
integrated analysis to determine greenhouse gas indices for methane, nitrous
oxide and HCFC-22. Suggests that greenhouse gas indices depend critically on the
choice of discount rates, uncertainties in greenhouse gas lifetimes, and the
degree of non-linearity in climate damages. Costs of carbon abatement and
uncertainties in climate models are less important.
"Transaction Costs and Tradeable Permits," R.N. Stavins (JFK
Sch. Govt., Harvard Univ., Cambridge MA 02138), J. Environ. Econ. &
Mgmt., 29(2), 133-148, Sep. 1995.
The current enthusiasm for tradeable emission permits is so great that
policy action and implementation has, in some cases, exceeded the understanding
of some fundamental issues. This paper treats an area that has received little
attention: the effects of transaction costs on the performance of markets for
pollution control. Claims made for the relative cost-effectiveness of
tradeable-permit systems have often been exaggerated. Transaction costs may be
significant in these markets, reducing trading levels and increasing abatement
"Econometric Modelling of International Carbon Tax Regimes," C.
Smith (London Business Sch., Sussex Pl., Regents Pk., London NW1 4SA, UK), S.
Hall, N. Mabey, Energy Econ., 17(2), 133-146, Apr. 1995.
Compares simulations of the impact of a number of possible carbon/energy tax
agreements on CO2 emissions generated by two models. One is an econometric model
relating fossil fuel demand in eight OECD countries to GDP and prices. The other
is a model of endogenous technical progress, which includes both price-induced
innovation and structural change in the economy as determinants of energy
consumption. In the long run, the magnitude of taxes required to stabilize or
reduce emissions would be large, and there are important differences in price
responses among the countries. These must be taken into account in international
modeling and policy formulation.
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