Effects of fairness principles on willingness to pay for climate change mitigation

Brilé Anderson, Thomas Bernauer, Stefano Balietti
Climatic Change
(2017): 1-15.
April 14, 2017


Despite the shift  from multilateral negotiations on legally binding mitigation commitments to  the decentralized nonbinding Intended Nationally Determined Contributions  (INDCs) approach in global climate policy, governments and other stakeholders  continue to insist that fairness principles guide the overall effort. Key  recurring principles in this debate are capacity and historical  responsibility. To keep global warming within the internationally agreed 2  Â°C limit, many countries will have to engage in more ambitious climate  policies relative to current INDCs. Public support will be crucial in this  respect. We thus explore the implications of different fairness principles  for citizens' preferences concerning burden sharing in climate policy. To  this end, we implemented an online experiment in which participants (N = 414)  played an ultimatum game. Participants were tasked with sharing the costs of  climate change mitigation. The aim was to examine how participants'  willingness to pay for mitigation was influenced by capacity and historical  responsibility considerations. The results show that fairness principles do  have a strong effect and that participants applied fairness principles  differently depending on their position at the outset. It turns out that  participants paid more attention to other players' capacity and historical  responsibility when proposing a particular cost allocation and more attention  to their own capacity and responsibility when responding to proposals by  others. These and other findings suggest that framing climate policy in terms  of internationally coordinated unilateral measures is likely to garner more  public support than framing climate policy in terms of a global bargaining  effort over the mitigation burden.

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