Will leading by example help in mitigating climate change? A comment on ‘the economics of leadership in climate change mitigation’ by Gregor Schwerhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Abstract

A recent article suggests that ‘the leader (in climate change mitigation) sets an example with the intention of motivating others to contribute to the public good’ [Schwerhoff, G. (2016). The economics of leadership in climate change mitigation. Climate Policy, 16, 196–214]. The article further suggests that this leadership role will increase climate change mitigation by followers. Schwerhoff lists three reasons for improved mitigation: reciprocal behaviour by the followers, an increase in the perceived value of climate change mitigation and reductions in costs. I will show several shortcomings in these mechanisms. In addition, I will survey other mechanisms that suggest an adverse effect of leadership on mitigation by other nations. These include free-riding and carbon leakage. The effect of these mechanisms possibly dominates the positive effect of leadership. The leadership role in itself is not projected to increase climate change mitigation in following countries. A more dominant role of the leader, e.g. in establishing Climate Clubs and putting sanctions on non-club trading partners, is needed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)814-816
Number of pages3
JournalClimate Policy
Volume17
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 18 Aug 2017

Keywords

  • carbon leakage
  • climate change mitigation
  • climate change policies

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science

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