Governing Climate Geoengineering: Side-Payments Are Not Enough

This working paper analyzes whether side-payments can address the problem of "free-driving," which is the unilateral deployment of geoengineering at levels that excessively cool Earth's temperature.



Feb. 17, 2021


Anna Lou Abatayo, Valentina Bosetti, Marco Casari, Massimo Tavoni, and Riccardo Ghidoni


Working Paper

Reading time

1 minute


Climate geoengineering strategies can help reduce the economic and ecological impacts of global warming. However, governing geoengineering is challenging: since climate preferences vary across countries, excessive deployment relative to the socially optimal level is likely. Through a laboratory experiment on a public good-or-bad game, we study whether side-payments can address this governance problem. While theoretically effective, our experimental results show only a modest impact of side-payments on outcomes, especially in a multilateral setup. Replacing unstructured bilateral exchanges with a treaty framework simplifies the action space and performs moderately better.

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Anna Lou Abatayo

Wageningen University & Research

Marco Casari

University of Bologna

Riccardo Ghidoni

University of Milano-Bicocca and Tilburg University

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