Beyond the Kyoto/Marrakesh Protocol: Options and strategies


Miles, E.L. 2004. Beyond the Kyoto/Marrakesh Protocol: Options and strategies. In Peterson, D.L. and J.L. Innes (eds), Climatic Change, Carbon, and Forestry in Northwestern North America, General Technical Report GTR-PNW-614, pp. 23-33, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon.


This essay argues that the Kyoto Protocol was flawed not because it went too far in its objectives relative to mitigating the global warming problem, but because it did not go far enough. The rejection of the protocol by the United States is welcomed because it creates an opportunity for reappraisal of the problem and consideration of what suite of policies might make better sense in the circumstances. Given the long time scales over which trace gases are resident in the atmosphere, the author argues that a “buying time” strategy makes the most sense.

This perspective is justified by a combination of defining the policy problem comprehensively and showing, through a close reading of the history of the negotiations leading up to the Kyoto Protocol and the Marrakech implementation agreement, that such negotiations can lead only to “solutions” that fall far short of the mark. The objective of a “buying time” strategy is to push out the time horizon of irreversible impacts while the international community struggles to mount an effective response to the problem. This “buying time” strategy combines increasing efficiency via a carbon tax, emissions trading, revenue recycling, shifting out of coal to an emphasis on natural gas and nuclear power, and a serious evaluation of all options to sequester carbon.