Patching up Kyoto

Joseph Stiglitz notes one of the key flaws of the Kyoto Protocol: it doesn’t give countries any incentive to preserve their rainforests, despite the fact that many poor countries have some rather obvious incentives to cut down their forests, and despite the fact that forests obviously play a useful role in keeping carbon concentration in the atmosphere down.

Now some developing countries like Costa Rica have begun paying for environmental services, like forest maintenance, to counteract this trend; but the program could really kick off if rich countries could kick in a few bucks. And why should they do such a thing? Because those countries who have signed onto the Kyoto Protocol are actually being subsidized by rainforest countries:

The Kyoto Protocol has generated new markets for trading carbon emissions, such as the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). At current carbon prices, the value of carbon sequestration by tropical rainforests likely equals or exceeds the current level of international aid being provided to developing countries. In effect, the poor are aiding the rich.

These are some weird glitches in the whole system, and some leading countries would rather just sit around and wait until 2012 to fix them. That, needless to say, would be far too late.


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.