Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Carbon emissions

The economic benefits of the Kyoto Protocol


The third Conference of the Parties in Kyoto set the target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by an average of 5.3% with respect to 1990 values by 2008–2012. One of the main objections to the protocol's ratification is that compliance would pose an unbearable economic burden on the countries involved1. But we show here that this is not the case if costs apart from the direct costs of energy production are also considered. Costs are also incurred in rectifying damage to human health, material goods, agriculture and the environment related to greenhouse-gas emissions.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Annual costs of one kilowatt-hour of electricity in Italy and the shares of technologies for three different cost situations (see text).


  1. 1

    Remarks by President G. W. Bush on Global Climate Change (Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, 11 June 2001).

  2. 2

    De Leo, G. A., Rizzi, L. & Caizzi, A. in Proc. 29th Int. Conf. Automation and Decision Making 247–256 (FAST, Milan, 2000).

  3. 3

    Callan, S. J. & Thomas, J. M. Environmental Economics and Management: Theory, Policy and Applications (Irwin, Chicago, 1996).

  4. 4

    De Paoli, L. & Lorenzoni, A. Economia e politica delle fonti rinnovabili e della cogenerazione (Franco Angeli, Milan, 1999).

  5. 5

    IEA/OECD Experience Curves for Energy Technology Policy (IEA, Paris, 2000) (

  6. 6

    European Commission ExternE: Externalities of Energy Vols 1–6 (EC, Brussels, 1995) (

  7. 7

    Rowe, R. D. et al. ESEERCO, New York State Environmental Externalities Cost Study Vols 1, 2 (Oceana, New York, 1995).

  8. 8

    Russell, L. (ed.) External Costs and Benefits of Fuel Cycles (Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Resources for the Future, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1994).

  9. 9

    Gatto, M. & De Leo, G. A. Bioscience 50, 347–355 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Interlaboratory Working Group Scenarios for a Clean Energy Future (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California; OPRNL/CON-476 and LBNL-44029, 2000).

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Giulio A. De Leo.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

De Leo, G., Rizzi, L., Caizzi, A. et al. The economic benefits of the Kyoto Protocol. Nature 413, 478–479 (2001).

Download citation


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing