Time to ditch Kyoto?

In news@nature, Gwyn Prins and Steve Rayner argue for abandoning Kyoto:

Kyoto has failed in several ways, not just in its lack of success in slowing global warming, but also because it has stifled discussion of alternative policy approaches that could both combat climate change and adapt to its unavoidable consequences. As Kyoto became a litmus test of political correctness, those who were concerned about climate change, but sceptical of the top-down approach adopted by the protocol were sternly admonished that “Kyoto is the only game in town”. We are anxious that the same mistake is not repeated in the current round of negotiations.

Already, in the post-Kyoto discussions, we are witnessing that well-documented human response to failure, especially where political or emotional capital is involved, which is to insist on more of what is not working: in this case more stringent targets and timetables, involving more countries. The next round of negotiations needs to open up new approaches, not to close them down as Kyoto did.

Economic theory recognizes the futility of throwing good money after bad. In politics, however, sunk costs are often seen as political capital or as an investment of reputation and status. So we acknowledge that those advocating the Kyoto regime will be reluctant to embrace alternatives because it means admitting that their chosen climate policy has and will continue to fail. But the rational thing to do in the face of a bad investment is to cut your losses and try something different.