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Global Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto

 

 

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Conference Presentations

The Yale Center for the Study of Globalization has taken, as an essential part of its mission, the study of problems that, even if they do not necessarily result directly from globalization, are global in nature and can therefore be effectively addressed only through international cooperation. We believe this to be the case with global warming. Mitigation of climate change is a global public good and is, for the most part, non-excludable and nonrival in consumption at the international level.

We share the belief that the question of whether or not global warming is taking place has already been settled by science. It is happening. But we also acknowledge that there are other issues in the scientific, economic and political debates which are not yet being settled, not least among them how far the average warming could go if present trends continue; the degree to which human activities, through the generation of greenhouse gases, have worsened and will continue to accelerate the warming; the most likely consequences on human habitat; and the fundamental policy concern of what to do about climate change.

Without demeaning the value of what is being done multilaterally and unilaterally – by civil society, local governments and individual business firms – a valid presumption is that much more must be done to address this problem seriously. To proceed, however, it seems indispensable to pursue anew an international consensus on the real dimensions of the problem. Opinions on this issue are divided within and among countries. The international consensus that once seemed to exist vanished with the withdrawal of the United Sates from the Kyoto protocol in early 2001 and dialogue on this issue among some of the key geopolitical players has been a dialogue of the deaf. We are hopeful, however, that attitudes from the pertinent actors will become more propitious for a serious dialogue and even for initiating some important agreements.

Enriching and intensifying the debate on this issue right now is warranted because of the timing of the programmed multilateral discussions on global climate policy post 2012. It is about time to start looking into what can be done after the compliance period 2008-2012 is over. There is serious need to look beyond Kyoto without ignoring the experiences, both good and bad, that have so far been provided by that instrument. It is in this context that the conference, “Global Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto,” was presented.