5. A Distant Reward

Shirking — missing a clmate target — brings an immediate cost savings, while cooperating provides a benefit will be spread over many decades and his highly uncertain. The is contrast discourages cooperation.

Is this simply the nature of the problem, or can something be done to hasten the payoff?

Under a climate agreement, monetary rewards and penalties can provide quick reinforcement, but this cannot induce countries to sign on to the agreement.


Historically the parallels between global oil policy and global climate policy have been striking. The International Energy Agency was formed to reduce the price of oil and protect against price shocks. But exactly like climate policy, it was originally half focussed on reducing oil use. Similarly the Kyoto protocol is focussed  ruffly half on reducing oil use.

Using less oil reduces: 

GHG emissions


The world price of oil

Half of the IEA's purpose:


Half of Kytoto's purpose:

To reduce oil use

This means that a climate agreement will automatically reduce the world price of oil and protect against oil-price shocks. But, although oil price shocks are still as much of a public concern as climate, this coincidence of interest has been ignored entirely by climate policy.

Instead, oil security benefits should be advertised and encouraged, as a way of adding more immediate and tangible payoffs to the adoption of climate policy.

Equally Addicted to Oil

Coincidentally, the oil benefit will likely be of most interest to China and the US, and these are the two countries that are most needed as the core of a climate alliance. See China.