As a mechanism for controlling climate change, the Kyoto Protocol has not been a success. Over the decade from it’s signing in 1997 to the beginning of its first commitment period in 2008, greenhouse gas emissions in industrial countries subject to targets under the protocol did not fall as the protocol intended. Instead, emissions in many countries rose rapidly. Moreover, emissions have increased substantially in countries such as China, which were not bound by the protocol but which will eventually have to be part of any serious climate change regime. The world community is looking to move beyond Kyoto.
On July 3, 2008, the Australian National University hosted Warwick McKibbin, a Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Global Economy and Development Program, for a presentation on Australia’s role in the search for a sensible climate policy. This lecture draws on a new report prepared for a G8 background meeting in Tokyo that takes the lessons to be learned from Kyoto to design a post Kyoto framework that builds on Kyoto but which addresses the key elements needed to build a truly global regime. The current state of the global debate is very relevant as Australia considers a domestic climate policy. The lecture also outlines why a traditional cap and trade emission trading system as proposed by some is inadequate to deal with the uncertainty that underlies climate change and is not in Australia’s national interest.