Linking U.S. and International Climate Change Strategies

This working paper identifies potential scenarios for the linkage of U.S. and international climate strategies; describes how emerging national and international emissions trading regimes will shape the context within which such linkages could take place; and examines issues that must be considered in the design of a U.S. climate strategy to ensure its compatibility with an international regime.

Among the key findings:

  • The United States could, as a legal matter, decide to recognize Kyoto permits for purposes of compliance with U.S. emission reduction targets without needing the permission of the Kyoto Protocol parties (for example, via an amendment) and even if the two systems were not fully compatible.
  • Sales of non-Kyoto emissions permits to the Kyoto system would require an amendment to the Protocol, which parties would be unlikely to consider unless they believed that the U.S. and Kyoto trading systems were generally compatible.
  • In the long term, the more compatible U.S. and international climate policies are, the easier it will be to achieve convergence both politically and legally. Conversely, given the significant inertia in political and economic systems, the further U.S. and international climate policies travel down divergent roads, the more difficult it will be to bring them back together again in the future.