Greenhouse Gas Policy Paper Wins Harvard Competition

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Jinhua Zhao won top honors in a competition to develop a new policy to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. (view larger image)

AgBio agricultural, food and resource economics researcher Jinhua Zhao says a flexible approach is key to developing an effective successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Zhao’s policy concept won top honors in a competition sponsored by Harvard University and could be put on the table next year when Kyoto II is negotiated in Copenhagen.

Kyoto I failed to bring major greenhouse gas emitters such as the United States, China and India into the agreement, and it lacked ways to enforce emission reductions, Zhao explained. In a paper he co-authored with Larry Karp, of the University of California at Berkeley, Zhao argued that Kyoto II should impose national ceilings on affluent nations’ greenhouse gas emissions, with voluntary abatement by developing countries.

To address participation and enforcement at the same time, the researchers advocate an escape clause tied to fines for nations that can’t meet their treaty emissions reduction obligations.

Zhao’s research focuses on global climate change, carbon sequestration and international environmental agreements. He and Karp expect to consult with Swedish officials as they develop proposals for the Copenhagen gathering in December 2009.

Zhao and Karp’s paper bested 27 others to win a research paper competition sponsored by the Harvard Project on International Climate Agreements. Read the paper.

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