Abstract:The decision by the Bush administration to abandon the Kyoto Protocol and go its own way on climate change is not necessarily the disaster for
climate policy often portrayed by environmentalists. Because Kyoto’s success is far from assured, having alternative approaches is a prudent hedging strategy. The real disappointment has been the failure of the United States to develop a credible climate change policy of its own.
In contrast to Kyoto—which tries to construct a comprehensive global architecture all at once—the United States should proceed step by step, starting with domestic action and then moving outward,beginning with like-minded states. It should initially address fewer greenhouse gases and use relatively simple procedures. And it should employ a safety valve that caps costs to provide economic predictability and prevent unexpectedly high costs that would tempt countries not to comply. In the long run, the race to combat climate change will go to the most durable policy, not the speediest.