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A Voting Architecture for the Governance of Free-Driver Externalities, with Application to Geoengineering

  • Martin Weitzman

Climate change is a global "free rider" problem because significant abatement of greenhouse gases is an expensive public good requiring international cooperation to apportion compliance among states. But it is also a global "free driver" problem because geoengineering the stratosphere with reflective particles to block incoming solar radiation is so cheap that it could essentially be undertaken unilaterally by one state perceiving itself to be in peril. This paper develops the main features of a "free driver" externality in a simple model based on the asymmetric consequences of type-I and type-II errors. I propose a social-choice decision architecture based on the solution concept of a supermajority voting rule and derive its basic properties. In the model this supermajority voting rule attains the socially optimal cooperative solution, which is a new theoretical result around which the paper is built.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18622.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18622
Note: EEE
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  1. Scott Barrett, 2008. "The Incredible Economics of Geoengineering," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 39(1), pages 45-54, January.
  2. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521195331 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Marlos Goes & Nancy Tuana & Klaus Keller, 2011. "The economics (or lack thereof) of aerosol geoengineering," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 109(3), pages 719-744, December.
  4. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521424585 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. David G. Victor, 2008. "On the regulation of geoengineering," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 322-336, Summer.
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