Trust, Cooperation, and Polycentric Climate Negotiations

13 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2013 Last revised: 2 Jan 2014

Daniel H. Cole

Indiana University Maurer School of Law; Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs; Indiana University Bloomington - Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis

Date Written: December 16, 2013

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.”

Keywords: Climate change, game theory, common-pool resource, public good, negotiations, trust, cooperation, communication

JEL Classification: C7, D7, H4, K33, P45, Q2

Suggested Citation

Cole, Daniel H., Trust, Cooperation, and Polycentric Climate Negotiations (December 16, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2368447 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2368447

Daniel H. Cole (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Indiana University Bloomington - Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis ( email )

Indiana University Bloomington
Bloomington, IN
United States
(812) 855-4421 (Phone)

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