Research

In the course of the project, five different work packages (WP1–5) will be implemented. WP1 identifies and analyses crucial determinants for successful cooperation, applying a meta-analysis of existing international environmental agreements (IEAs) combined with a judicial perspective. WP1 additionally considers financial transfers against the background of distributional and procedural fairness concerns as well as reciprocity and the pioneering roles taken on by individual countries. As climate negotiations are strategic by nature, the incentives necessary for compliance with the Paris Agreement will be studied from a theoretical perspective using tools from game theory. In that regard, WP2 will explicitly work out distinct features of transfer schemes fostering compliance with the agreement. In particular, we analyse how (potentially) stabilising effects of financial transfer schemes depend on the perception of fairness of the different actors. Laboratory experiments used in WP3 aim to disentangle the different drivers of compliance. The main research focus of this WP relates to the impact of procedural and distributional aspects on compliance in a social dilemma situation with a stock externality in which no supranational or international authority is able to enforce the self-determined pledges. The challenge to assess compliance with the Paris Agreement will be tackled in a stated preferences approach in WP4. The aim is to measure negotiators’ preferences for NDCs and financial transfers using a world-wide survey, containing a discrete choice experiment, which will allow trade-offs between NDCs and transfers to be quantified. The aim of WP5 is to communicate and disseminate the results of the research project to relevant stakeholders (negotiators and observers to the UNFCCC, policymakers, experts, politicians, etc.), the scientific community and the general public.

This work package provides a legal perspective on the equity and fairness issues in the Paris Agreement. The latter is examined in comparison with past IEAs (esp. the Kyoto Protocol; Copenhagen Accord; UNFCCC). The Paris Agreement further develops the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities as a rationale of international environmental law. For this reason, the dynamic interdependencies between the agreement as a framework and its organisational and procedural rules on the compliance mechanism have to be scrutinised. In interaction with the other WPs, the expected results will provide legal insights on how the implementation of the Paris Agreement can address equity and fairness issues and facilitate compliance. This will be useful both for practitioners and negotiators participating in the forthcoming COPs and for potential future international environmental agreements.

Subsequently, a review of the academic literature on past IEAs will be conducted to identify stylised facts on the role of fairness in cooperation and compliance within the framework of past IEAs in order to draw lessons for future climate policy. Market mechanisms, as envisaged in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, will be an important part of the literature review.

Finally, we will carry out an empirical analysis of the role of financial transfers in international climate action so far, which aims at deriving lessons for the next review cycles of the Paris Agreement.

 

The aim of WP 2 is twofold: First, we investigate to what extent financial transfers between signatory states are suited to make the Paris Agreement work. Both analytical and numerical models of coalition formation will be used for this purpose. We are particularly interested in the properties of functional transfer schemes in the context of heterogeneous and inequality averse players.

A critical parameter in these types of models is the degree of inequality aversion. Therefore, the second aim of WP2 is to make empirical estimates of inequality aversion in collective preferences by applying a revealed preference approach to already existing international environmental agreements.

The third work package investigates potential drivers of compliance in international environmental agreements. The main challenge is to derive insights to establish an agreement architecture that provides incentives for compliance and increasing efforts in absence of an overarching institution able to enforce commitments. The focus is on the evaluation of procedural aspects contained in the Paris Agreement, in particular dynamic review and contribution schemes, financial transfers and leadership.

This work package relies on data generated within the controlled environment of economic experiments in order to understand not only why negotiating parties do (or do not) comply with their commitments, but also how their ambition can even be increased. The analysis is based on well-established methods of experiments, which are strategically extended to adequately map core characteristics and challenges of international climate policies, such as stock externalities, heterogeneities between the negotiating parties and international cooperation.

In this work package, the preferences of delegates in international climate negotiations regarding ongoing processes associated with the Paris Agreement are studied via a survey. Negotiators and delegates influence their home country’s climate policy process and public debate, and have a profound understanding of the domestic political realities. They are thus an integral part of the collective preference formation process of governments, which ultimately leads to climate policy decisions. A better understanding of the delegates’ individual preferences will help to identify possible differences and similarities in governments’ collective preferences.

The survey will address key drivers of compliance and non-compliance. Of particular interest are the potential relationship between the increasing ambition of NDCs over time (the ratchet mechanism) and issues of finance, fairness, and leadership issues. Findings from the other WPs will feed into the survey design and help to formulate verifiable hypotheses and provide information for the survey design.

The aim of InFairCom is to promote dialogue between researchers and relevant stakeholders in international climate policy at all major stages of the project. This includes extensive dissemination of the results both to the scientific community and to the public, focusing on negotiators and regular observers of the UNFCCC, policymakers, and NGOs. The results will be disseminated within the scientific community through presentations at national and international workshops and conferences, and, finally, through publications in peer-reviewed journals. An advisory board including scientists and practitioners (e.g. Heads of Delegations to the UNFCCC, see Appendix) accompanies the research activities. Communication to the policy community will take place in bilateral meetings with advisers, and via project workshops and policy events such as side events at the UNFCCC meetings or a ZEW Lunch Debate in Brussels.