Small is beautiful: Why a club approach is the way to go in climate change mitigation

Rafael Leal-Arcas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter argues that the Kyoto Protocol to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change was doomed to face difficulties ab initio and tries to draw lessons from the international trading system’s architecture for climate change mitigation negotiations. The UNFCCC has traditionally divided the world into developed countries (including countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy) and developing countries. It places the responsibility of reducing emissions with developed countries as if they were the only sinners of climate change. A better (and arguably fairer) way to tackle the climate change issue today is by bringing together the major GHG emitters, irrespective of their GDP. Why so? Because seen retrospectively, rich-countries have been (and continue to be) the major polluters; they are responsible for most of the GHG emissions, and have the financial and technological means to tackle climate change. However, seen prospectively, it is a developing countries problem, as predictions indicate that, in the near future, developing countries will be the major polluters as well as the major victims of the consequences of climate change, especially countries near the equator. The longer we wait, the harder and more expensive it will become to deal with climate change. So the major GHG emitters (whether developed or developing countries), which are responsible for historic, current and future emissions, should, therefore, be the ones to take action.The chapter concludes that no breakthroughs will take place regarding climate change mitigation until there is more political maturity on the side of the U.S. and until rapidly emerging economies indicate that they are ready to play their part.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGreen Energy and Technology
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameGreen Energy and Technology
ISSN (Print)1865-3529
ISSN (Electronic)1865-3537


  • Bottom-up approach to climate change mitigation
  • Major economies forum
  • Variable geometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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