Risky Geoengineering Option Can Make An Ambitious Climate Mitigation Agreement More Likely

10 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2019 Last revised: 20 Apr 2020

See all articles by Adrien Fabre

Adrien Fabre

Paris School of Economics

Gernot Wagner

New York University (NYU) - Department of Environmental Studies; New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Date Written: November 14, 2019

Abstract

Some countries prefer high to low mitigation (H ≻ L). Some prefer low to high (L ≻ H). That fundamental disagreement is at the heart of the seeming intractability of negotiating a climate mitigation agreement. Modelling global climate negotiations as a weakest-link game brings this to the fore: Unless everyone prefers H to L, L wins. Enter geoengineering (G). Its risky and imperfect nature makes it arguably inferior to any country’s preferred mitigation outcome. However, absent a global high-mitigation agreement, countries facing disastrous climate damages might indeed wish to undertake it, effectively ranking H ≻ G ≻ L. Meanwhile, those least affected by climate damages and, thus, least inclined to agree to an ambitious mitigation agreement, might be unwilling to engage in risky geoengineering, resulting in L ≻ H ≻ G. With these rankings, all players prefer H to G, and the mere availability of a credible geoengineering threat might help induce an ambitious climate mitigation agreement (H). The analysis here introduces the simplest possible model of global climate negotiations and derives the conditions for this outcome. These conditions may indeed be likely, as long as geoengineering is viewed as a credible albeit risky emergency response given the danger of low mitigation levels.

Keywords: climate change, geoengineering, climate agreement

JEL Classification: F5, Q5

Suggested Citation

Fabre, Adrien and Wagner, Gernot, Risky Geoengineering Option Can Make An Ambitious Climate Mitigation Agreement More Likely (November 14, 2019). NYU Wagner Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3499684 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3499684

Adrien Fabre

Paris School of Economics ( email )

Paris
France

Gernot Wagner (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Environmental Studies ( email )

285 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10003
United States

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service ( email )

The Puck Building
295 Lafayette Street, Second Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States

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