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Don't count on long-term success in climate policy, warns paper in Decision Analysis
Date:7/1/2008

d uncertainty about future climate change among the reasons that it calls for the postponement of stricter mandated emissions reductions until the next decade.

This raises a central question for near-term climate policy, both in the United States and abroad, he writes: whether or not regulations of greenhouse gas emissions can be delayed, and whether some level of mitigating effort is required at once. Countering those who say the dust should settle before committing to big decisions, he points out that when a decision will be irreversible -- as is likely the case in climate policy -- delaying the decision is probably not the best option, according to research in decision analysis.

Decision making in public policy, he writes, is complicated by the reluctance of leaders to reverse course after they have made important policy choices.

"A large-scale international policy issue such as climate change is especially vulnerable to path dependencies. If significant global emissions reductions are required in the long-run, this will be an extremely difficult problem to coordinate across nations," he writes.

Climate policy optimization models typically assume that some fraction of baseline emissions can be reduced in each period, ranging from none to nearly 100%, he notes. But, he points out, the range of reductions considered in any period is independent of any choices made in previous periods.

"The question posed in this study is: Does accounting for path dependency in political systems change the first-period (today) optimal choice from a sequential decision model of climate policy?," he writes. " If it does, then this would argue for a more aggressive hedging strategy with greater emissions reductions for near-term climate policy. This action would allow for greater flexibility if significant reductions are required later in the century."


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Contact: Barry List
barry.list@informs.org
443-757-3560
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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