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International Climate Games: From Caps to Cooperation

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Abstract

Greenhouse gas abatement is a public good, so climate policy is a public-goods game and suffers from the free-rider incentives that make the outcome of such games notoriously uncooperative. Adopting an international agreement can change the nature of the game, reducing or exacerbating the uncooperative tendencies of the players. We analyze alternative international agreements as variations of the public-goods game, and examine the incentives for cooperation under each alternative. The addition of cap-and-trade rules to the basic public-goods game is found to polarize the free-rider incentives of that game, encouraging those who would abate the most to target even higher abatement levels and those who would abate the least to target lower, and even negative, abatement levels. Such polarization between developed and developing countries is familiar from both the Kyoto and Copenhagen climate summits. Since cap-and-trade rules decrease cooperation by developing countries, developed countries are led to reject the game’s outcome and in the process prevent agreement on a set of quantity targets. To break this deadlock and shift the equilibrium toward cooperation, a modification of the public-goods game based on price rather than quantities is needed. This involves a global price target and equity transfers via a Green Fund that rewards adoption of and compliance with such a target. The Nash equilibrium of one such game is analyzed for a group of three countries similar to the United States, China and India.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Cramton & Steven Stoft, 2010. "International Climate Games: From Caps to Cooperation," Papers of Peter Cramton 10icg, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:pcc:pccumd:10icg
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    File URL: http://www.cramton.umd.edu/papers2010-2014/cramton-stoft-international-climate-games.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Henry, TULKENS & Parkash, CHANDER, 2006. "Cooperation, stability and self-enforcement in interational environmental agreements : a conceptual discussion," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2006003, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques, revised 15 Jan 2006.
    2. Cramton Peter & Stoft Steven, 2010. "Price Is a Better Climate Commitment," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-7, February.
    3. Michael Kosfeld & Akira Okada & Arno Riedl, 2009. "Institution Formation in Public Goods Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1335-1355, September.
    4. Barrett, Scott & Toman, Michael, 2010. "Contrasting future paths for an evolving global climate regime," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5164, The World Bank.
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    6. Rand, David Gertler & Dreber, Anna & Fudenberg, Drew & Ellingson, Tore & Nowak, Martin A., 2009. "Positive Interactions Promote Public Cooperation," Scholarly Articles 3804483, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    7. Carbone, Jared C. & Helm, Carsten & Rutherford, Thomas F., 2009. "The case for international emission trade in the absence of cooperative climate policy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 266-280, November.
    8. Bjart J. Holtsmark & Dag Einar Sommervoll, 2008. "International emissions trading in a non-cooperative equilibrium," Discussion Papers 542, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. How to solve the Kyoto and Copenhagen climate gridlocks
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-08-27 19:24:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Holtsmark, Bjart & Sommervoll, Dag Einar, 2012. "International emissions trading: Good or bad?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 362-364.
    2. Bolton, Gary E. & Ockenfels, Axel, 2012. "Behavioral economic engineering," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 665-676.
    3. Bjart Holtsmark & Dag Einar Sommervoll, 2012. "International emissions trading in a noncooperative climate policy game," Discussion Papers 693, Statistics Norway, Research Department.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    global warming; climate change; climate treaty; cap and trade; carbon tax; carbon price; public goods;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation

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