Friday, September 03, 2004

Not Hot Air

I'm stuck in Environment and Statecraft as it were wet cement. A fascinating book, with both a detailed history of its subject - international environmental agreements - and an exposition of game theory which is comprehensive but with a very light touch that makes it a pleasure to read, all woven into a confident and compelling story.

Others writing on Kyoto merely say what has happened, but Barrett has made a breakthrough in explaining why the agreement faces crisis, a question that has been either neglected or subject to ideological filtering of the worst kind.

Even the official bodies seeking to guide climate policy seem, from what I have seen of their reports and public statements, not to have given as much thought to the governance structure behind any arrangements in as much depth as other questions. As a result, maybe the field has been left open to the shrillest voices and the most unsupported arguments. Or else, the unspoken assumptions seem, from my reading of the IPCC's work, to be an unspoken assumption that the UN and its often flawed multilateralism offer the only moral and practical option for managing the problem.

I've been surveying the Irish publications on climate policy but none comment on whether the treaty is worthwhile or correctly-designed, although they do have implications for weighing up the analysis in Lomborg's Skeptical Environmentalist.