From a policy perspective, a climate architecture based on economy-wide, binding emissions targets, combined with emissions trading, has many virtues. But even such an architecture represents good climate policy, it is far more questionable whether it represents good climate politics -- at least in the near-term, for the upcoming "post-2012" negotiations. Given the wide range of differences in national perspectives and preferences regarding climate change, a more flexible, bottom-up approach may be needed, which builds on the efforts that are already beginning to emerge, by allowing different countries to assume different types of international commitments – not only absolute targets, but also indexed targets, taxes, efficiency standards, and so forth. Such an approach would not provide a long-term solution to the climate change problem; the more costly climate change mitigation is, the more states will want greater assurance that their efforts are being reciprocated by other states. But a bottom-up approach might help break the current impasse and get the ball rolling. It reflects, not ideal policy, but rather less than ideal politics.
Daniel M. Bodansky,
Targets and Timetables: Good Policy But Bad Politics?
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/234