“Information about historical emissions drives the division of climate change mitigation costs”

Journal Article


Dr. Alessandro Del Ponte

Journal Title:

Nature Communications, 14, 1408

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Dr. Alessandro Del Ponte (University of Alabama), Aidas Masiliūnas (University of Sheffield), Noah Lim (National University of Singapore)



Despite worsening climate change, the international community still disagrees on how to divide the costs of mitigation between developing countries and developed countries, which emitted the bulk of historical carbon emissions. We study this issue using an economic experiment. Specifically, we test how information about historical emissions influences how much participants pay for climate change mitigation. In a four-player game, participants are assigned to lead two fictional countries as members of either the first or the second generation. The first generation produces wealth at the expense of greater carbon emissions. The second generation inherits their predecessor’s wealth and negotiates how to split the climate change mitigation costs. Here we show that when the second generation knows that the previous generation created the current wealth and mitigation costs, participants whose predecessor generated more carbon emissions offered to pay more, whereas the successors of low-carbon emitters offered to pay less.