“The Kyoto Protocol and International Climate Cooperation”

With the effects of climate change becoming more apparent, global warming is of concern to the public as well as to scientists and politicians. Those who wish to understand the problem and the processes of climate-change negotiations will do well to read Chen Gang’s book, The Kyoto Protocol and International Climate Cooperation.

Books of this type – popular scientific material on international climate-change negotiations and cooperation – are uncommon. The author builds around those protracted negotiations and the resulting Kyoto Protocol, using it to examine the theory of international cooperation mechanisms.

Chen analyses the huge costs each party has incurred while limiting greenhouse-gas emissions, the limited effects that the protocol has been able to achieve, and the differing impact it has had on the signatories – developed western countries, developing nations such as China and India, and the industrial former Soviet republics and East European nations. 

Besides a vivid presentation of full and accurate material, the book also presents a number of innovative viewpoints. The author holds that although every nation has an interest in combating climate change, the existing international mechanisms must provide differential incentives for each nation, beyond that of the global good.  

This is a new point of view on the issue, and forms the basis for an examination of how the Kyoto Protocol’s three major mechanisms — emissions trading, joint implementation and the clean development mechanism — came into being. This is of value not just for readers’ overall understanding of the content of the protocol and the negotiations process, but also for use in the design of systems in other fields. 

Chen’s book is one of China’s earlier and more comprehensive ones on climate change. When the author first started working in the field, climate change was not yet an international political issue. The material covered, therefore, is full and accurate. The book is also strengthened by the author’s skill in making the theoretical issues of international climate-change negotiations accessible to all.

The Kyoto Protocol and International Climate Cooperation
Chen Gang
Xinhua Press, 2008

— By Li Siqi