Strategic Implications of Counter-Geoengineering: Clash or Cooperation?

37 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2018

See all articles by Daniel Heyen

Daniel Heyen

TU Kaiserslautern; ETH Zurich

Joshua Horton

Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA)

Juan Moreno-Cruz

University of Waterloo - School of Environment, Enterprise and Development

Date Written: August 08, 2018

Abstract

Solar geoengineering has received increasing attention as an option to temporarily stabilize global temperatures. A key concern surrounding these technologies is that heterogeneous preferences over the optimal amount of cooling combined with low deployment costs may allow the country with the strongest incentive for cooling, the so-called free-driver, to impose a substantial externality on the rest of the world. We analyze whether the threat of counter-geoengineering technologies capable of negating the climatic effects of solar geoengineering can overcome the free-driver problem and tilt the game in favor of international cooperation. Our game-theoretical model of asymmetric countries allows for a rigorous analysis of the strategic interaction surrounding solar geoengineering and counter-geoengineering. We find that the free-driver outcome becomes unstable once counter-geoengineering is available, but not always with benign effects. The presence of counter-geoengineering leads to either a climate clash where countries engage in a non-cooperative escalation of opposing climate interventions (negative welfare effect), a moratorium treaty where countries commit to abstain from either type of climate intervention (indeterminate welfare effect), or cooperative deployment of solar geoengineering (positive welfare effect). We show that the outcome depends crucially on the degree of asymmetry in temperature preferences between countries.

Keywords: climate intervention, solar geoengineering, counter-geoengineering, free-driver, strategic conflicts, game theory, cooperation, externality, global warming, international environmental agreements

JEL Classification: Q540, H410, D620, D020, D740

Suggested Citation

Heyen, Daniel and Horton, Joshua and Moreno-Cruz, Juan, Strategic Implications of Counter-Geoengineering: Clash or Cooperation? (August 08, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3254215 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3254215

Daniel Heyen (Contact Author)

TU Kaiserslautern

Gottlieb-Daimler-Str., Geb. 42
Kaiserslautern, 67663
Germany

ETH Zurich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland
8092 (Fax)

Joshua Horton

Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) ( email )

79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Juan Moreno-Cruz

University of Waterloo - School of Environment, Enterprise and Development ( email )

Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
Canada

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