A Bargaining Game Analysis of International Climate Negotiations

Nature Climate Change 4:442-445 (2014)
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Climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have so far failed to achieve a robust international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Game theory has been used to investigate possible climate negotiation solutions and strategies for accomplishing them. Negotiations have been primarily modelled as public goods games such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma, though coordination games or games of conflict have also been used. Many of these models have solutions, in the form of equilibria, corresponding to possible positive outcomes—that is, agreements with the requisite emissions reduction commitments. Other work on large-scale social dilemmas suggests that it should be possible to resolve the climate problem. It therefore seems that equilibrium selection may be a barrier to successful negotiations. Here we use an N-player bargaining game in an agent-based model with learning dynamics to examine the past failures of and future prospects for a robust international climate agreement. The model suggests reasons why the desirable solutions identified in previous game-theoretic models have not yet been accomplished in practice and what mechanisms might be used to achieve these solutions.

Author Profiles

Patrick Forber
Tufts University
John Basl
Northeastern University


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