Beleaguered by mutual recrimination between rich and poor countries, squeezed by the zero-sum arithmetic of a shrinking global carbon budget, and overtaken by shifts in economic and hence bargaining power between these countries, international cooperation on climate change has floundered. Given these three factors—which Arvind Subramanian and Aaditya Mattoo call the “narrative,” “adding up,” and “new world” problems—the wonder is not the current impasse; it is, rather, the belief that progress might be possible at all.
In Greenprint, the authors argue that any chance of progress must address each of these problems in a radically different way. First, the old narrative of recrimination must cede to a narrative based on recognition of common interests. Second, leaders must shift the focus away from emissions cuts to technology generation. Third, the old “cash-for-cuts” approach must be abandoned for one that requires contributions from all countries calibrated in magnitude and form to their current level of development and future prospects.