Friday, December 20, 2013

"Trust, Cooperation, and Polycentric Climate Negotiations"

That's the title of my new working paper, now posted on SSRN (here). Here is the abstract:
The lack of progress in global climate negotiations has caused scholars to refocus on prospects for lower-level agreements that might substitute for, supplement, or motivate a global mitigation agreement. This paper contributes to the emerging literature on polycentric approaches to climate change mitigation by arguing that: (1) the global climate is a common-pool resource, rather than a public good; (2) climate change negotiations are not a prisoner’s dilemma but an “assurance game,” the outcome of which depends on subjectively perceived probabilities of cooperation, which in turn depend on levels of mutual trust developed over time in multiple and diverse face-to-face interactions; (3) the UN’s massive, stilted, and brightly spotlighted climate change meetings clearly have failed to build the mutual trust needed for effective collective action on climate change; and (4) the greater number and frequency of communications afforded by polycentric approaches, including informal as well as formal, bilateral as well as multilateral, negotiations are more likely to inculcate mutual trust over time. Of particular interest among ongoing, sub-global negotiations is the recently established “US-China Climate Change Working Group.”

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