Cooperation in the climate commons

Produced as part of the Evaluating the performance of climate policies CCCEP research programme theme

This paper surveys the existing empirical evidence on the scope for cooperation in the climate commons and on the effectiveness of possible interventions to spur it.

Given the global public good properties of climate change mitigation, mitigation efforts have to rely on the willingness of individuals to contribute voluntarily to this public good, by reducing the demand on the environmental commons either in the form of ‘green’ consumer behaviour or through the acceptance of costly climate policy. Both are likely to be necessary.

The authors survey evidence that suggests a central role for local social norms in the provision of global public goods. They discuss the importance of the visibility of norms and the role of beliefs when such visibility is lacking, concluding that some actors may behave as conditional cooperators when confronted with global dilemmas, similarly to what takes place in the local commons.