Engineering Climate Change Negotiations

ETH Zurich: Negotiation and Conflict Management Research Paper No. 15-02

21 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2015

Date Written: November 8, 2015


Science has recently handed us an "inconveniently simple" concept to think about climate change: to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels, we may only burn a very limited amount of fossil fuels in the next hundred years. This carbon budget has to be shared fairly among nations.

Applying the novel approach of negotiation engineering, we propose a simple mathematical model for the climate change negotiations: to agree on a cutting of the carbon cake, parties select fairness principles and decide to which degree they should be applied. We call this "negotiation on principles".

We investigate some properties of the model and as an application assess the fairness of past and present allocations of the budget.

Keywords: Negotiation engineering, climate change, fairness, carbon budget, COP 21, Paris

JEL Classification: F51, F64

Suggested Citation

Knobel, Andreas, Engineering Climate Change Negotiations (November 8, 2015). ETH Zurich: Negotiation and Conflict Management Research Paper No. 15-02. Available at SSRN: or

Andreas Knobel (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich ( email )

Weinbergstrasse 56/58
WEV K 516
Z├╝rich, 8092

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