At the present time no widely accepted temporal emissions path for greenhouse gases has been developed and adopted at either a country or a global level. What does exist is a set of near-term, country-level emissions targets associated with the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and a process for the determination of targets for subsequent commitment periods. However, the first commitment period targets specified by the protocol have been heavily criticized on the grounds that they are arbitrary and ad hoc. The purpose of this paper is to examine the conceptual foundations upon which one might base a domestic climate policy for the United States and to attempt to determine whether a near-term emissions target can indeed be derived from structured decision-making resting upon these conceptual foundations.


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