CID Working Paper No. 226

Politically Feasible Emissions Targets to Attain 460 ppm CO2 Concentrations

Valentina Bosetti, Jeffrey Frankel

October, 2011


A new climate change treaty must address three current gaps: the absence of emissions targets extending far into the future, the absence of participation by the United States, China, and other developing countries, and the absence of reason to expect compliance. Moreover, to be politically acceptable, a post-Kyoto treaty must recognize certain constraints regarding country-by-country economic costs. This article presents a framework for assigning quantitative emissions allocations across countries, one budget period at a time, through a two-stage plan: (i) China and other developing countries accept targets at business-as-usual (BAU) levels in the coming budget period, and, during the same period, the US agrees to cuts below BAU; (ii) all countries are asked to make further cuts in the future in accordance with a formula which includes a Progressive Reductions Factor, a Latecomer Catch-up Factor, and a Gradual Equalization Factor. An earlier proposal (Frankel 2009) for specific parameter values in the formulas achieved the environmental goal that CO2 concentrations plateau at 500 ppm by 2100. It met our political constraints by keeping every country’s economic cost below thresholds of Y=1% of income in Present Discounted Value, and X=5% of income in the worst period. The framework proposed in this article attains a stricter concentration goal of 460 ppm CO2, but only by loosening the political constraints.

JEL subject codes: Q54

Keywords: China, concentrations, Copenhagen, costs, developing countries, emissions, equity, global climate, global warming, greenhouse gas, international, Kyoto, political, targets, treaty

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