Linking Trade and Climate Change

Linking Trade and Climate Change

While few can predict exactly what new policies will be implemented by the incoming Obama Administration, it is clear that addressing climate change will be among its top priorities, and that any successful approach to the challenge will involve international cooperation.

The outlines of a solution are relatively simple. Over time, global carbon emissions need to be reduced, which means that current emitters -- largely in the developed world -- will need to reduce their emissions. Countries in the developing world, meanwhile, will need to limit the increase in their emissions as their economies grow and modernize, so as not to offset the reductions by the developed world. In the long run, carbon emissions per capita around the world will equalize, with total emissions below current levels.

This approach is both workable and fair, even if there remain many details to negotiate: Over what time frame will the process unfold? Will emissions targets be equalized on a strict per capita basis, or instead roughly converge? Should targets be linear or weighed over time?

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