After having relayed, at the beginning of the year, the recommendations made by the Climate Economics Chair for an effective agreement. This new issue of Opinions & Débats echoes the voices of Christian Gollier and Jean Tirole. They tackle the difficult task of trying to save an international conference that seems to be heading down the road of a mere list of intentions.


In climate negotiations, the free rider phenomenon, which results from the lack of a common regulatory framework, is compounded by concerns about carbon leakage and the desire for offsets in future negotiations. Current negotiations based on ‘voluntary contributions’ (INDCs) allow for seductive promises and claims of victory when in reality they serve mainly to perpetuate the international community’s wait-and-see attitude. The free rider problem can only be solved by developing a coherent carbon pricing system. We propose a roadmap for the international negotiation process. Negotiators must go back to basics: the need for a uniform international carbon price, a measurement and monitoring mechanism, and a governance system agreed by all. Under the principle of subsidiarity, each country will be free to develop its own national climate policy. We propose an enforcement scheme that uses financial and trade sanctions to encourage all countries to participate and comply with the terms of the agreement. Finally, whatever economic mechanism is chosen, uniform carbon pricing or a cap-and-trade system, there will be trade-offs on which several reasonable views can coexist. We explain why we prefer an international cap-and-trade agreement.

Christian Gollier and Jean Tirole