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Implications for climate-change policy of research on cooperation in social dilemmas

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  • Irwin, Timothy

Abstract

The problem of climate change seems to be a tragedy of the commons: despite the global benefits of reducing green-house gas emissions, no individual has any incentive to reduce his or her own emissions. Yet many people are making efforts to reduce emissions and putting pressure on businesses and governments to do the same. Although the size of these efforts is unclear, their very existence might seem puzzling. The efforts are consistent, however, with some theoretical and empirical evidence about the extent of cooperation in other social dilemmas. This evidence does not imply that greenhouse-gas emissions will be reduced to desirable levels, but it does suggest that the potential for voluntary cooperation should not be ignored. It also suggests that cooperation can be promoted by (i) allowing cooperators to punish defectors without withdrawing their own cooperation; (ii) publicly emphasizing the social benefits and extent of cooperation and the social norms that require it; and (iii) improving the quantity and timeliness of public information about cooperation and defection.

Suggested Citation

  • Irwin, Timothy, 2009. "Implications for climate-change policy of research on cooperation in social dilemmas," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5006, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Murray, Christopher J. L., 1987. "A critical review of international mortality data," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 25(7), pages 773-781, January.
    2. Bulatao, Rodolfo A. & Bos, Eduard & Stephens, Patience W. & My T. Vu, 1989. "Projecting mortality for all countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 337, The World Bank.
    3. Joel Cohen, 1986. "Population forecasts and confidence intervals for sweden: a comparison of model-based and empirical approaches," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 23(1), pages 105-126, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Liverani, Andrea, 2009. "Climate change and individual behavior : considerations for policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5058, The World Bank.
    2. Elmar A. Janssen, 2014. "The Influence of Transparency on Investments in Climate Protecting - An Economic Experiment," Working Papers Dissertations 06, Paderborn University, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics.
    3. Stuart Bryce Capstick, 2013. "Public Understanding of Climate Change as a Social Dilemma," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(8), pages 1-18, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Climate Change Mitigation and Green House Gases; Climate Change Economics; Common Property Resource Development; Transport and Environment; Health Systems Development&Reform;

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