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Meeting a national emission reduction target in an experimental setting




Climate change mitigation presents us with a social dilemma: while mitigation benefits everyone, individuals lack the incentive to alter their behaviour, since they can reap its benefits while failing to reduce their own emissions. Using a 'public good' experiment with a climate change framing, the scope for cooperation in meeting a national mitigation goal is examined: in particular, how different sectors with differing marginal abatement costs distribute the responsibility of reducing emissions between themselves. The experiment consists of four scenarios: (1) a counterfactual baseline scenario in which cooperation is voluntary although communication is prohibited, (2) a communication scenario in which communication is permitted, and finally, (3) and (4) two scenarios in which there is a carbon tax, where the tax reflects an electricity levy. The results suggest that relying on the voluntary cooperation of individuals will not be sufficient to meet the mitigation target; while communication significantly increases average contribution levels, it also polarizes the strategies of individual players between full cooperation and free-riding. While introducing a carbon tax crowds out contributions, in excess of a specified mitigation target, cooperation becomes near-universal, thus emphasizing the importance of choosing the correct tax level.

Suggested Citation

  • Kerri Brick & Martine Visser, 2010. "Meeting a national emission reduction target in an experimental setting," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(5), pages 543-559, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:tcpoxx:v:10:y:2010:i:5:p:543-559
    DOI: 10.3763/cpol.2010.0106

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gowdy, John M., 2008. "Behavioral economics and climate change policy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 632-644, December.
    2. Lisa R. Anderson & Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 2003. "Inequality, Group Cohesion, and Public Good Provision: An Experimental Analysis," Working Papers 0308, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    3. Reuben, Ernesto & Riedl, Arno, 2013. "Enforcement of contribution norms in public good games with heterogeneous populations," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 122-137.
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