Cooperation in the climate commons

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Working paper
Stefano Carattini, Simon Levin and Alessandro Tavoni
Issue number: 
Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
London School of Economics
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. 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. We survey evidence that suggests a central role for local social norms in the provision of global public goods. We discuss the importance of the visibility of norms and the role of beliefs when such visibility is lacking. We conclude that some actors may behave as conditional cooperators also when confronted with global dilemmas, similarly to what takes place in the local commons.
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