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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Climate Change Policy: A View from the US

  • Author(s): Kolstad, Charles D.;
  • et al.

The Bush Administration followed its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol in March, 2001, by a February, 2002 proposal for unilateral action to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions. The February proposal has been widely criticized for having little content and no teeth. The lack of teeth is clearly a valid criticism. The proposal is unlikely to result in much in the way of changed behavior within the U.S. economy. However, a side benefit is that other actors, particularly states, are attempting to fill the void left by the Federal Government. Those actions are reviewed in this paper. Furthermore, there is an interesting idea within the Bush Proposal, an idea that may warrant further examination at the international level. Although the idea is probably not original, its emphasis by the Bush Administration gives it more prominence that it has had in the past. The idea is to focus on the rate of decline of the emissions intensity of the economy, rather than the total amount of emissions (though the two are obviously related). This has a number of advantages, including dynamic consistency, reduced uncertainty, and potential attractiveness to non-Annex I countries. These characteristics are reviewed in this paper.

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