Warwick J. McKibbin
Peter J. Wilcoxen
JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVES
VOL. 16, NO. 2, SPRING 2002
The most important characteristic of climate change as a policy problem is uncertainty. From climatology to economics, uncertainties are pervasive, large and difficult to resolve. However, the economic theory of environmental policy under uncertainty provides a clear guide to the design of an appropriate policy. An efficient and practical approach would be a hybrid that incorporates the best features of tradable permits and emissions taxes. Unfortunately, international negotiations have taken a different approach, focusing on rigid targets and timetables for emissions reductions. The result has been the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement with no real chance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.