As we take climate change more seriously, we’ll need better ways of
measuring carbon emissions. That doesn’t just mean reporting and
monitoring systems, but also better conceptual models, a sense of how
best to compare emissions between regions or countries.
Among other things, better metrics will allow us to craft more
sophisticated policy. The Kyoto arrangement — “let’s all go back to
where we were in 1990″ — is, to put it kindly, a blunt weapon,
insensitive to participating countries’ varying levels of wealth,
population trajectories, native industries, and energy needs.
Expectations for any country to reduce its carbon emissions ought to be
sensitive to its individual circumstances.