Political Economy of the Kyoto Protocol

Posted: 11 Mar 1999

See all articles by Scott Barrett

Scott Barrett

Johns Hopkins University - Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)


The Kyoto Protocol, negotiated in December 1997, is the first international treaty to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. But Kyoto does not mark the conclusion to international cooperation on climate change. It is really just a beginning. This paper shows that, in the aggregate, the benefits of undertaking the Kyoto reductions should exceed the corresponding costs?provided these are achieved cost-effectively. But, although Kyoto seeks to promote cost-effectiveness, it may yet prove very costly. Moreover, the agreement may not even achieve the reductions that it promises, either because emissions will relocate to the countries that are not required to stay within Kyoto-prescribed ceilings or because ??paper? trades will be promoted by the protocol's mechanisms. More fundamentally, Kyoto does not deter non-compliance, and it only weakly deters non-participation. These flaws need to be mended, but the nature of the problem makes that an especially difficult task.

JEL Classification: Q28, Q38

Suggested Citation

Barrett, Scott, Political Economy of the Kyoto Protocol. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=148497

Scott Barrett (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University - Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) ( email )

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