Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. 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.

A balance of bottom-up and top-down in linking climate policies

Abstract

Top-down climate negotiations embodied by the Kyoto Protocol have all but stalled, chiefly because of disagreements over targets and objections to financial transfers. To avoid those problems, many have shifted their focus to linkage of bottom-up climate policies such as regional carbon markets. This approach is appealing, but we identify four obstacles to successful linkage: different levels of ambition; competing domestic policy objectives; objections to financial transfers; and the difficulty of close regulatory coordination. Even with a more decentralized approach, overcoming the 'global warming gridlock' of the intergovernmental negotiations will require close international coordination. We demonstrate how a balance of bottom-up and top-down elements can create a path toward an effective global climate architecture.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Rayner, S. How to eat an elephant: A bottom-up approach to climate policy. Clim. Policy 10, 615–621 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Falkner, R., Stephan, H. & Vogler, J. International climate policy after Copenhagen: Towards a 'building blocks' approach. Glob. Policy 1, 252–262 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Victor, D. G. Global Warming Gridlock: Creating More Effective Strategies for Protecting the Planet (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2011).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  4. Jaffe, J., Ranson, M. & Stavins, R. N. Linking tradable permit systems: A key element of emerging international climate policy architecture. Ecol. Law Quart. 36, 789–808 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Jaffe, J. & Stavins, R. N. in Post-Kyoto International Climate Policy: Implementing Architectures for Agreement (eds Aldy, J. E. & Stavins, R. N.) Ch. 4, 119–150 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010).

    Google Scholar 

  6. Metcalf, G. & Weisbach, D. Linking policies when tastes differ: Global climate policy in a heterogeneous world. Rev. Environ. Econ. Pol. 6, 110–129 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Ranson, M. & Stavins, R. N. Post-Durban climate policy architecture based on linkage of cap-and-trade systems. Chicago J. Int. Law 13.2 (2012).

  8. Stewart, R., Oppenheimer, M. & Rudyk, B. A new strategy for global climate protection. Clim. Change 120, 1–12 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Olson, M. The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups (Harvard Univ. Press, 1965).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Weitzman, M. L. Can negotiating a uniform carbon price help to internalize the global warming externality? J. Assoc. Environ. Resour. Econ. 1, 29–49 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  11. Wagner, G. & Weitzman, M. L. Climate Shock: the Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet (Princeton Univ. Press, in the press).

  12. IPCC Summary for Policymakers in Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change (eds Edenhofer, O. et al.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014).

  13. Nachmany, M. et al. The GLOBE Climate Legislation Study: A Review of Climate Change Legislation in 66 Countries 4th Edn (GLOBE International/Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics, 2014).

    Google Scholar 

  14. Mansell, A. (ed.) Greenhouse Gas Market 2012: New Markets, New Mechanisms, New Opportunities (International Emissions Trading Association, 2012).

    Google Scholar 

  15. Grubb, M. Emissions trading: Cap and trade finds new energy. Nature 491, 666–667 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. State and Trends of Carbon Pricing (World Bank, 2014).

  17. Victor, D. G., House, J. C. & Joy, S. A Madisonian approach to climate policy. Science 309, 1820–1821 (2005).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Dellink, R., Jamet, S., Chateau, J. & Duval, R. Towards global carbon pricing: Direct and indirect linking of carbon markets. OECD J. Econ. Studies 2013 (2014).

  19. Ellerman, A. D., Convery, F. J. & De Perthuis, C. Pricing Carbon: The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  20. Victor, D. & House, J. A new currency: Climate change and carbon credits. Harv. Int. Rev. 26, 56–59 (2004).

    Google Scholar 

  21. Milner, H. V. Interests, Institutions, and Information (Princeton Univ. Press, 1997).

    Google Scholar 

  22. International Carbon Market (European Commission, 2014); http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/linking/index_en.htm

  23. Jervis, R. System Effects (Princeton Univ. Press, 1997).

    Google Scholar 

  24. Raustiala, K. & Victor, D. G. The regime complex for plant genetic resources. Int. Org. 58, 277–309 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Burtraw, D., Palmer, K., Munnings, C., Weber, P. & Woerman, M. Linking by Degrees: Incremental Alignment of Cap-And-Trade Markets Discussion Paper 13–04 (Resources for the Future, 2013).

    Google Scholar 

  26. Sabel, C. F. & Zeitlin, J. Experimentalist Governance in the European Union: Towards a New Architecture (Oxford Univ. Press, 2010).

    Google Scholar 

  27. Ostrom, E. A polycentric approach for coping with climate change. Ann. Econ. Finance 15, 71–108 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  28. Pizer, W. A. & Yates, A. J. Terminating Links between Emission Trading Programs Discussion Paper 14–28 (Resources for the Future, 2014).

    Google Scholar 

  29. Urpelainen, J. A model of dynamic climate governance: dream big, win small. Int. Environ. Agreements Polit. Law Econ. 13, 107–125 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

For comments and discussions, we thank R. Ahuja, S. Barrett, D. Bodansky, D. Burtraw, F. Convery, D. Dudek, A. Ghosh, T. Hale, A. Hanafi, J. Haverkamp, N. Keohane, R. Keohane, J. Margolis, G. Metcalf, E. Morehouse, M. Oppenheimer, A. Ovodenko, A. Petsonk, B. Rudyk, R. Saines, R. Socolow, R. Stavins, J. Urpelainen, D. Victor, D. Walker, M. Weitzman, M. Zaragoza-Watkins and R. Zeckhauser. We thank K. Rittenhouse for excellent research assistance. T.S. thanks Mistra and Formas for funding.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gernot Wagner.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Green, J., Sterner, T. & Wagner, G. A balance of bottom-up and top-down in linking climate policies. Nature Clim Change 4, 1064–1067 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2429

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2429

Further reading

Search

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