An Economic Analysis
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Chapter 1: Introduction
PURPOSE OF THE BOOK The last two decades have experienced an increasing awareness about global warming. Its causes have been extensively explained and the study of its potential effects on the ecosystem and on humankind has been growing enormously. In spite of the lack of scientific consensus on its potential consequences, it is well recognized that global warming involves a risk that governments cannot neglect anymore. In an attempt to safeguard against the risk of massive damage caused by a change in climate, international and European institutions have committed to clear environmental goals aimed at stabilizing the global temperature at a nondangerous level. In 2005, with the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, the ratifying parties committed to reduce by 2012 their emissions to 5.2 per cent below the level of 1990. The European Union (hereinafter EU) has been playing an important role in this political process; in the last two decades the mitigation of climate change has become one of the most important issues in the European political agenda. After having ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the European Commission (hereinafter EC) expressed its firm intention to enforce emissions reduction climate policies even beyond the terms of the Kyoto Protocol. At the end of 2008, the European Climate Package, which imposes a unilateral 20 per cent emissions cut below the 1990 emissions level to be met by 2020, was finally approved. These emissions reduction targets are ambitious and costly as they require the public and private sectors to make substantial...