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Lifetime‐leveraging: An approach to achieving international agreement and effective climate protection using mitigation of short‐lived greenhouse gases

Frances C. Moore (Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
Michael C. MacCracken (Climate Institute, Washington, DC, USA)

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management

ISSN: 1756-8692

Article publication date: 24 February 2009

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to suggest an approach to post‐Kyoto climate negotiations that could provide a way out of the apparent deadlock between developed and developing countries. This is an urgent issue as the world already appears to be close to a level of climate change that could be considered “dangerous”.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper explores the potential that control of short‐lived greenhouse gases such as methane, tropospheric ozone, and soot could have, in addition to steep cutbacks in industrialized nations, to both mitigate global warming and overcome political stalemate in the international climate negotiations.

Findings

Although rarely mentioned in climate discourse, reducing emissions of short‐lived greenhouse gases offers a cost‐effective way of actually reducing the radiative forcing in the atmosphere, while at the same time producing substantial subsidiary benefits such as improved urban air quality. The paper suggests leveraging this potential in the post‐Kyoto treaty in order to “buy time” to address the arguably more difficult problem of essentially eliminating fossil‐fuel related CO2 emissions, which will ultimately be required to truly bring climate change under control. While high‐income countries work on steep cutbacks of all greenhouse gas emissions, middle‐income nations could make significant additional contributions by undertaking commitments to control only short‐lived greenhouse gases until they reached a threshold level of per‐capita GDP, at which point they would cap and begin reducing all greenhouse gas emissions.

Originality/value

This paper recognizes that political tradeoffs will have to be made in negotiating the next climate treaty, and offers a way of approaching these tradeoffs that could minimize resulting environmental damage.

Keywords

Citation

Moore, F.C. and MacCracken, M.C. (2009), "Lifetime‐leveraging: An approach to achieving international agreement and effective climate protection using mitigation of short‐lived greenhouse gases", International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 42-62. https://doi.org/10.1108/17568690910934390

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited