Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:53 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:53 | SYDNEY

Copenhagen free riders


Sam Roggeveen


21 September 2009 16:19

On Crikey's website today, a statement of what I take to be the conventional wisdom on climate change diplomacy. The interviewee is Erwin Jackson from the Climate Institute:

Q: How important is it that the US senate pass their trading scheme before Copenhagen?

A: It is critical to an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen. Most major economies are moving towards legislated approaches to emission reductions or low carbon development in advance of Copenhagen. Outside Australia this includes countries from the UK to China to most recently signals from India that they are moving in this direction. However, without the US having at least passed a Bill through the Senate, it will be difficult to achieve the political agreement needed in Copenhagen to deliver a legally binding treaty over the coming years. However, China in particular is yet to play its full hand, which will have a strong impact on US and international climate politics. 

I guess the logic is that Kyoto was undermined because it never got US legislative sign-on, so best to get a US scheme written into law before trying to negotiate a global agreement.

But isn't it equally likely that a US climate bill will just reduce the incentive for global agreement by encouraging free-riding from developing nations? After all, if the world's major emitter is suddenly doing the heavy lifting, why should China and India join in? Out of the goodness of their hearts?

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