Countries have been granted some flexibility. The basic domestic and international policy instruments available for reducing emissions include: (a) emission reduction targets; (b) domestic emissions taxes; (c) international emissions taxes; (d) external offsets ([eg] household energy conservation scheme or investments in public transport); and (e) tradable permits for emission entitlements.
A policy instrument that is designed to achieve reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases must fulfil several other conditions simultaneously if it is to be accepted by the international community. These are that: (a) it must allow continued development in all countries and unimpeded industrialization in developing countries; (b) it must be fair to all countries; (c) it must minimize the overall costs of implementing the agreement; and (d) it must include some means of transferring both technical and financial resources from the developed to the developing countries to enable the latter to participate effectively. Equity, economic efficiency and resource transfer are thus essential to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and so policy instruments to achieve this goal should be determined largely by the extent to which they meet these criteria and also enable a sufficient degree of autonomy to countries in their selection.
Among the most attractive options for reducing or offsetting CO2 emissions are energy efficiency, better municipal planning, technology transfer to less developed countries (LDCs), carbon sequestration in agro-forest ecosystems and use of biomass and alternative fuels. Options for reducing other greenhouse gases suggest it may be technically feasible to reduce methane emission by 33% and nitrous oxide by 10%. Within Europe, best scenarios suggest a 46% reduction in methane emissions and 45% for nitrous oxide should be possible by 2000.
3. There are alternative initiatives that offer real solutions to climate change. Many non-governmental organizations have rallied behind two critical policy initiatives that will help confront global warming and move us towards an ecologically sustainable global society: 1) no new fossil fuel exploration as the first stage in the transition to clean renewable energy, and 2) permanent protection for the world's remaining intact old growth forests.
2. It would only be in the unlikely event of a high-damage scenario that the world would have to change course abrubtly and move to rapid decarbonization. Even after 2020, there would still be enough time to adapt the global economy to sharp decline in greenhouse gas emissions if it was learned that such actions were necessary.