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Rethinking Equity and Efficiency in Mitigating Climate Change

IJED, Vol. 3 No. 4, (2001)

The Kyoto Protocol represents the prevailing international consensus on climate control. However, the Kyoto Protocol fails to provide adequate incentives for forest preservation and carbon sequestration in the developing world. Any approach that focuses solely on emissions reductions to the exclusion of forest conservation generates unacceptable efficiency losses while foreclosing more equitable ways to combat global warming. Future climate treaties should provide incentives to all countries to reduce emissions and to preserve and enhance forest carbon sinks. Forests in tropical countries currently provide climate stabilization services valued between $36-$395 billion per year. An alternative approach to climate control that would facilitate payment for these services, either directly through carbon subsidies, or indirectly through the sale of emissions credits for verifiable changes in land use, could transfer substantial income to the developing world. In which case, fairness for developing countries could be achieved explicitly, rather than implicitly by temporary exclusion from emissions quotas. It is time to rethink equity and efficiency in mitigating climate change.

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