Climate change is a policy challenge unlike most others, because success will require a global effort in a sphere which will bring significant upfront costs for each economy. And, although the world will benefit in the future from concerted policy initiatives, to date that hasn’t been enough to generate combined action on the scale required.
A continuing refrain from those opposed to taking painful action today is that domestic action will be largely offset by international inaction. If the EU takes urgent measures, a water-bed effect could see the reduction in emissions in the EU being countered by a rise in emissions elsewhere.
There is some validity to this concern. The first task of global policymakers is to try and convince the bulk of the world economy to act, leaving few free riders….