IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

13.3.4 Evaluating international climate change agreements

This section reviews the literature using the same criteria as in Section 13.2: environmental effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, distributional considerations and institutional feasibility. The discussion is summarized in Table 13.3, and then discussed in greater depth in the text. As is the case with national policies, international agreements are instruments that can be designed well or poorly and be stringent or lax, binding or non-binding, or politically attractive or unattractive.

Table 13.3: Assessment of international agreements on climate change.[45]

Approach Environmental effectiveness Cost-effectiveness Meets distributional considerations Institutional feasibility 
National emission targets and international emission trading (including offsets) Depends on participation and compliance. Decreases with limited participation and reduced gas and sector coverage. Depends on initial allocation. Depends on capacity to prepare inventories and compliance. Defections weaken regime stability. 
Sectoral agreements  Not all sectors amenable to such agreements, thereby limiting overall effectiveness. Effectivenss depends on whether agreement is binding or non-binding. Lack of trading across sectors increases overall costs, although they may be cost-effective within individual sectors. Competitive concerns reduced within each sector.  Depends on participation. Within-sector competitiveness concerns are alleviated if treated equally at global level. Requires many separate decisions and technical capacity. Each sector may require cross-country institutions to manage agreements. 
Coordinated policies and measures Individual measures can be effective; emission levels may be uncertain; success will be a function of compliance. Depends on policy design. Extent of coordination could limit national flexibility, but may increase equity.  Depends on the number of countries (easier among smaller groups of countries than at the global level). 
Cooperation on Technology RD&Da Depends on funding, when technologies are developed and policies for diffusion.  Varies with degree of R&D risk. Cooperation reduces individual national risk. Intellectual property concerns may negate the benefits of cooperation.  Requires many separate decisions. Depends on research capacity and long-term funding. 
Development-oriented actions Depends on national policies and design to create synergies. Depends on the extent of synergies with other development objectives. Depends on distributional effects of development policies. Depends on priority given to sustainable development in national policies and goals of national institutions. 
Financial mechanisms Depends on funding selection criteria.  Depends on country and project type. Depends on project and country. Depends on national institutions. 
Capacity building Varies over time and depends on critical mass. Depends on programme design. Depends on selection of recipient group. Depends on country and institutional frameworks. 
a Research, Development and Demonstration.