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Serendipity is not a strategy: the impact of national climate programmes on greenhouse-gas emissions

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This article examines the efficacy of national climate programmes (packages of policies introduced by governments to meet emissions reduction targets set out in the Kyoto Protocol) by considering emissions trends before and after their implementation. Analysis reveals that only four of 21 countries with defined programmes demonstrate improved emissions trends following their inception and in only one is the change statistically significant. The reasons for this are manifold but serendipity appears to play as large a part as strategy in determining national emissions trends in the early years of climate programmes. Inflated claims of success by national governments are unhelpful for effective policy analysis and development.

Keywords: climate policy; greenhouse-gas emissions; national climate programmes; quantitative analysis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JN, Email:

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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