Letter: Kyoto - Costly and Regressive
IPN Opinion article
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Kyoto: costly and regressive
By Kendra Okonski
Financial Times; Mar 09, 2004
From Ms Kendra Okonski.
Sir, Pundits, activists, governments and Michael Grubb (Letters, March 5) have obsessively focused on restricting emissions of greenhouse gases as the only way to curtail global warming. Yet restrictions such as those required by the Kyoto protocol would be costly and regressive - hurting the poor the most - and would have little impact on the climate.
Moreover, faulty assumptions justify Kyoto's restrictions. For example, David Henderson and Ian Castles, eminent economists, have indicated that inappropriate use of market exchange rates biases the assumed level of future economic output (and hence emissions) upwards, thereby overstating humanity's likely impact on the climate. Nevertheless, in preparing the next Assessment Report (AR-4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change they will still use that assumption. Of equal concern is that post-2012 commitments (when Kyoto expires) would require far more costly cuts by all parties, a point omitted by Prof Grubb.
True leadership entails admitting mistakes. If the European Union were to abandon its desperate pursuit of Kyoto, it could lead the global community into new discussions to develop cost-effective policies to deal with climate change. A plethora of schemes could work: investments in flood controls, incentives to invest in new agricultural technologies and technology transfer to countries such as India and China, where populaces rely on dirty wood and dung and industry relies on dirty coal, meaning that their future emissions will far outweigh Europe's reductions.
Such actions would improve human and environmental well-being while eliminating poverty.
Kendra Okonski, Director, Sustainable Development Project, International Policy Network, London SE16 2XB, UK