V.   Choices: Cooperate or "to each her own"


The Big Picture

What's The Hold Up?

Perspectives of the Developing World

Strategies To Engage Countries

Choices: Corporate or "To Each Her Own"



Simple economic analysis predicts that the total benefits of averting climate change far exceed the total costs of failing to do so. At the risk of stating the obvious, I suggest that both sides compromise.

Specifically, I recommend: (1) that all countries be involved in the solution; (2) that the developing countries agree to limitations in GHG emissions on the condition that the developed nations finance the necessary measures so as not to adversely affect their development; and (3) that the developed countries start moving, free to use the mechanisms outlined in Kyoto, namely, tradable emission permits, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI).

Global warming, like many other environmental issues, presents a tragedy of the commons problem. The choice for each side here is whether or not to participate in efforts to stabilize emissions. The stakes are high and mutual participation is in the best interest of all parties.  Yet, each nation has an incentive to free ride (not act, assuming it is only one party) as it will benefit most if it does not participate when all others do. Game theory suggests that everyone should cooperate (and, again, so do I.)23

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1 Ved P. Nanda, The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change and the Challenges to Its   Implementation: A Commentary, 10 Colo. J. Intl Envtl. L. & Poly 319, 319 (1999).

2 See Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group I, The Science of Climate Change 5 (Second Assessment Report, 1995), reprinted in Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change (J.T. Houghton et al. Eds., 1995)

3 Executive Summary of the National Communication of the United States of America, (July 25, 1995) <http://fccc/nc/7.html>.

4 Id. at 3.

5 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development: Framework Convention on Climate Change, May 9, 1992, art. 2, 31I.L.M. 849, 854.

6 Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto, Japan, 1997, U.N. Doc. FCCC/CP/Add.1, art. 3 [hereinafter Kyoto].

7 Paul G. Harris, Common But Differentiated Responsibility: The Kyoto Protocol and United States Policy, N.Y.U. Envtl. L.J. 27, 27-28 (1999).

8 Id. Kyoto.

9 The Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, http://cop5.unfccc.de/convkp/index.html

10 See Environment: India Seeking to Isolate U.S. at Kyoto, International Press Service (New Delhi), Dec. 2, 1997, at 1.

11See Harris, supra note 7, at 5.

12 See Environment, supra note 10, at 1.

13 See Deborah E. Cooper, The Kyoto Protocol and China: Global Warming’s Sleeping Giant, 11 Geo. Int’l Envtl. L. Rev. 401.

14 Pollution Control High on US-China Agenda, L.A. Times, July 2, 1998, at A1.

15 Nanda Col J p5.

16See Christine Batruch, "Hot Air" as Precedent for Developing Countries? Equity Considerations, UCLA J. Envtl. L. & Pol. 45 (1999).

17 Harold K. Jacobson and Edith Brown Weiss, Assessing the Record and Designing Strategies to Engage Countries, Engaging Countries Strengthening Compliance with International Environmental Accords 538 (Harold K. Jacobson and Edith Brown Weiss 1998). 

18 Id. at 497.

19 Murillo de Aragao, Brazil: Regional Inequalities and Ecological Diversity in a Federal System, Engaging Countries Strengthening Compliance with International Environmental Accords 492 (Harold K. Jacobson and Edith Brown Weiss 1998). [herein after Brazil]

20 Id. at 497.

21Assessing the record at 543.

22 Id. at 548.

23 See John Setear, Iterative Perspective on Treaties, 37 Harv. Intl. L. J. 139, 174 (1996).