On the Sensitivity of Collective Action to Uncertainty About Climate Tipping Points

42 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2014  

Scott Barrett

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA)

Astrid Dannenberg

Göteborg University

Date Written: February 20, 2014

Abstract

Previous research shows that collective action to avoid a catastrophic threshold, such as a climate “tipping point,” is unaffected by uncertainty about the impact of crossing the threshold but that collective action collapses if the location of the threshold is uncertain. Theory suggests that behavior should differ dramatically either side of a dividing line for threshold uncertainty. Inside the dividing line, where uncertainty is small, collective action should succeed. Outside the dividing line, where uncertainty is large, collective action should fail. We test this prediction in the experimental lab. Our results strongly support the prediction: behavior is highly sensitive to uncertainty around the dividing line.

Keywords: collective action, prisoners’ dilemma, coordination game, threshold uncertainty, negotiations, tipping points, climate change, experimental economics

JEL Classification: C720, F510, H410, H870, Q540

Suggested Citation

Barrett, Scott and Dannenberg, Astrid, On the Sensitivity of Collective Action to Uncertainty About Climate Tipping Points (February 20, 2014). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4643. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2404910

Scott Barrett (Contact Author)

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Astrid Dannenberg

Göteborg University ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30
Goeteborg, 405 30
Sweden

Paper statistics

Downloads
106
Rank
212,664
Abstract Views
811