'I Will If You Will' Incentive To Be Taken At Climate Summit In Paris
Countries will promise to reduce their global carbon emissions at the United Nations climate summit in Paris this December. The hope is that these negotiations will trigger "an upward spiral of ambition over time."
Many countries sit by reliant on the efforts of other countries to reduce carbon emission. A common commitment at the climate summit in Paris will help promote cooperation.
Researchers label the strategy as an "I will if you will" incentive.
In preparation for the meeting, countries have begun to submit their plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers are weary about this approach.
"The science of cooperation predicts that if all you are doing is naming individual contributions -- offers that aren't coupled to each other -- then you'll end up with a relatively poor outcome," said David MacKay, from the University of Cambridge. "We have the history of the Kyoto agreement as an example of this. Initially, the approach was to find a common commitment, but eventually it descended into a patchwork of individual commitments ... and that led to very weak commitments and several countries leaving the process."
He believes that the Paris negotiations will suffer the same fate.
"If you know a carbon price will apply to all other countries as well as you, it now comes in your self-interest to advocate a high carbon price," said MacKay.
MacKay advocates for the "I will if you will" approach since it will promote a common commitment to the process.
MacKay added by saying, "If people make a common commitment that they will match what others do, then it becomes in your self-interest to advocate a high level of action because it will apply not only to you but also to others."
Finding a common ground on price for carbon can be done through a carbon tax or emissions trading schemes. It would apply to all countries.
Bob Ward from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment said that "This is a thoughtful contribution but rather too pessimistic about the United Nations climate change negotiations.
He agreed with the authors that a global price on carbon is necessary but that it would not be enough to provoke the action required.