Scientists suggest how countries can cooperate on climate

Sep 12, 2011

When countries try to work together to limit the effects of climate change, the fear of being the only nation reducing greenhouse gas emissions – while the others enjoy the benefits with no sacrifice – can bring cooperation to a grinding halt.

In a commentary in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Thomas Dietz, professor of sociology and environmental science and policy and assistant vice president for environmental research at MSU, and Jinhua Zhao, director of the MSU Environmental Science and Policy Program and professor of economics and agricultural, food and resource economics, suggest using game theory and a scalable method of rewards and punishments (called linear compensation) to help develop strategies that encourage all nations to participation fully in greenhouse gas mitigation programs.

Dietz also is a member of the MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability.

"If we assume that each nation will act rationally in its own self-interest, then the path to reducing climate change risk is to design a set of rules for that countries will agree to because they find the rules beneficial," said Dietz. "Punishments for not meeting the emissions targets are an important part of the design, but these punishments may discourage nations from joining. That's where the mechanism of linear compensation is useful."

Instead of imposing a fixed punishment, linear compensation calls for the punishment to be adjusted relative to how well other nations met the emissions goals.

"So if most other nations also failed to meet the emissions targets, the punishment for each nation would be less – nations would be punished most for being the farthest away from the results of the other nations," Dietz explained.

"A key feature of linear compensation is that if a nation fails to meet its treaty obligations, other nations punish it by reducing their own abatement," said Zhao. "So each nation has leverage: its own abatement helps make other nations abate more. This is the beauty of the linear compensation mechanism."

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mtc123
1.7 / 5 (6) Sep 12, 2011
Drink that Kool-Aid!
Manbearpig is SOOOOOOO proud of you!
ArtflDgr
1 / 5 (7) Sep 12, 2011
go ahead, i dare you to compute the btu's necessary to raise the atmosphere 1 degree... and realize there is no way to even come close to generating that in any way... so we cant do anything but play make believe on both ends.
Urgelt
2.8 / 5 (4) Sep 12, 2011
I think the premise is absurd.

In a foot race, if you promise to shoot the last place finishers, nobody will want to race at all. That's straight from game theory. The authors did not understand game theory very well if this is what they came up with.

Nor is the assumption that green energy sources will always be more expensive than fossil fuels a likely truth. I think it's probably the reverse: fossil fuels will soon surpass several alternative energy sources (within 20 years).

I'm optimistic that solar costs will plunge to near-parity with fossil fuels in that time frame, but it seems to me that the incredible energy density of ocean kinetics and thermoclines makes them even more attractive energy sources. We have some tough engineering to do to wring cheap power out of them, but in time, I think we'll figure it out.
jyro
1.1 / 5 (7) Sep 13, 2011
the climate has always changed since the Earth's begining. Spend resources to adapt to the inevitable changes in climate
gmurphy
5 / 5 (1) Sep 13, 2011
@jyro, climate has always changed yes but it has never changed because of human pollution before, there's a big difference between the two. Furthermore, this particular climate change is happening with unprecedented magnitude and speed. We should not throw caution to the wind.
Shootist
1 / 5 (5) Sep 13, 2011
@jyro, climate has always changed yes but it has never changed because of human pollution before, there's a big difference between the two. Furthermore, this particular climate change is happening with unprecedented magnitude and speed. We should not throw caution to the wind.


And it isn't changing from hu-mon inputs now. As mentioned above, MANBEARPIG loves you.
jyro
1 / 5 (5) Sep 14, 2011
@jyro, climate has always changed yes but it has never changed because of human pollution before, there's a big difference between the two. Furthermore, this particular climate change is happening with unprecedented magnitude and speed. We should not throw caution to the wind.


Waste all the money you want to stop it, it will just be less to use to adapt to the changes that will happen anyway. You can't fight the future.