On Climate Change and Cyber Attacks: Leveraging Polycentric Governance to Mitigate Global Collective Action Problems
51 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2015 Last revised: 5 Oct 2015
Date Written: July 13, 2015
Although the atmosphere and cyberspace are distinct arenas, they share similar problems of overuse, difficulties of enforcement, and the associated challenges of collective inaction and free riders. Moreover, “[m]illions of actors affect the global atmosphere[,]” just as they do the Internet. With weather patterns changing, global sea levels rising, and temperatures set to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, climate change is a problem affecting the entire world, but one in which benefits are dispersed and the harms are often concentrated. Similarly, the cost of cyber attacks is concentrated in a relatively small number of nations even as others are becoming havens for cybercriminals. Yet it is also true that actions taken by a multiplicity of actors on a small scale can impact both the global climate change problem and the cause of promoting a global culture of cybersecurity. This Article tracks the evolution of the climate change regime focusing both on top-down UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and bottom-up bilateral and regional efforts and then compares and contrasts this history with Internet governance. The potential of polycentric governance to mitigate the two global collective action problems of climate change and cyber attacks is assessed even as policymakers increasingly head in this direction such as may be seen by the preparations for the 2015 Conference of the Parties in Paris and statements made by the President of Estonia and Director of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
Keywords: cybersecurity, climate change, cyber attack, Kyoto Protocol, UNFCCC, Montreal Protocol, sustainability
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