What has gone wrong? In frustration over Copenhagen, Todd Stern, the US Climate Envoy, famously remarked, "It's not a matter of politics or morality or anything else. It's just math."
That's what's gone wrong. A focus on numbers instead of strategy leads to bickering, not cooperation. And numbers have no force — as Canada showed by rejecting its Kyoto target right in the middle of the Copenhagen summit.
The problem is not that Canada is a rogue state, but that it had no idea what it was committing to back in 1997 because it could not foresee the future 15 years in advance. Moreover there is no enforcement. The reason for these problem is that the treaty designers focussed on environmental numerics instead of cooperation. Dependable cooperation must come first, then the numbers and math will have meaning.
With many such flaws in the Kyoto design, Copenhagen's failure was inevitable, so in preparation, an alternative approach was designed (see Carbonomics 2008), which we present here.
Flexible Global Carbon Pricing -- Kyoto Redesigned to Gain Cooperation
This approach focuses on gaining a strong agreement by leveraging self interest. Strong targets will flow from a strong agreement and not the reverse. The design focuses on incentives and cooperation not tons emitted or temperatures.