International Environmental Policy: In a New League

The world’s most important energy and environment treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, has finally become effective. This happened because negotiations linked several trade and environment issues in an imaginative deal. Are such matters joining the mainstream alongside security issues, and if so, could the environment lose out?

The World Today Updated 15 October 2020 Published 1 March 2005 4 minute READ

Richard Tarasofsky

After several years of suspense, the Kyoto climate change protocol has entered into force. This is an important feat for many reasons. First, and foremost, it represents the coming together of most of the global community to address the greatest environmental challenge of our time. Although flawed, and at best only a first step, the protocol lays a foundation for more intense action to firmly come to grips with the implications of climate change.

Secondly, the protocol is an important departure from classic international environmental policy making because it relies on creative and elaborate market arrangements. These ‘flexible mechanisms’ resulted from intense bargaining, emerging only once it became clear that developed countries were unwilling simply to regulate a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The burdens and opportunities had to be shared both between countries and firms.

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