While the scientific evidence for climate change grows, the policy responses have so far had little
or no impact on the build-up of emissions. Current trends in emissions are adverse. The paper considers why the disconnect between science and policy exists and, in particular, why the Kyoto Protocol has achieved so little. Some contributing factors considered are: the focus on carbon production rather than consumption in the architecture of Kyoto; the flaws in the analysis presented in the Stern Report (notably on the impacts of climate change on economic growth, on the costs of mitigation, and on discounting); and the political economy of the choice of policy instruments, the politics of the rents that arise, and the technology bias.
The challenges facing the Copenhagen conference are noted, and it is concluded that, with a recasting of the economics of climate change, the prospects for closing the gap between the science and policy are grim.