International Climate Policy after Kyoto – Economic Challenges Ahead
The signs are increasing that the gain in greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the 20th century causes the average global temperature to rise. Limiting the temperature rise to 2°C should at least avoid the worst consequences of global warming. This would require the greenhouse gas emissions to reach their maximum value by no later than 2015 and to be dramatically reduced worldwide from that time until 2050. From the economic perspective, there are a number of important questions: In the first place, how can the initial situation be described in economic categories? Therefore, the emissions should first of all be identified by region and sector and thereupon, the adjustment possibilities are to be outlined. Which costs and which revenues are associated with climate policy? The bandwidth of the estimated damage is between 5% and 20% of global gross domestic product (GDP) annually in the case of unmitigated climate change. These estimates are compared to around 1% of global GDP, which would be spent to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. How are the global targets to be distributed regionally and sectorally, and which economic instruments are recommended for this purpose? Obviously, tradable permits are preferred. Here, the initial assignment and the nature of the allocation on the one hand and the tradability on the other play a prominent role. What politico-economic conflicts arise and what recommendations can economists give to solve these conflicts goal-oriented? Finally, what is to recommend in terms of political economy in order to remain credible in particular in the sense of an international climate agreement?