It’s becoming more difficult for the negotiators on both sides of the table to come to an agreement relating to the reduction of emissions, according to research Chalmers University recently published in Nature Climate Change journal.
Vilhelm Verendel, a doctoral student at Chalmers’ Division of Physical Resource Theory said it has become more difficult to hold a positive negotiation session because negotiators often enter with “a high degree of strategic thinking.”
“This [how negotiators are now approaching discussions] can impact how negotiators behave in terms of reaching both their objectives – first, trying to find a solution to a problem, and second, without overly negatively affecting the results for the negotiator’s own country,” Verendel said in a statement from Chalmers.
Negotiators representing a number of countries will meet in Paris at the end of this month in an attempt to hash out an agreement on how the world can work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While the basis for the discussion seems oriented toward worldwide improvement, Chalmers believes, like recent meetings, each negotiator will enter France with hopes of coming up with an agreement that will benefit their respective nation.
Verendel and his colleagues have come up with new social science theories which demonstrate that experienced negotiators, like those discussing climate change, use strategic reasoning more often than the average person. This type of strategy makes climate change negotiators better prepared for the actions of other participating in the discussion. The researchers then matched their findings with previous studies relating to climate change negotiations, which showed that an agreement is more likely to take place if the participants are aware of a “threshold that cannot be passed without resulting in an environmental disaster,” according to Chalmers.
“The research field is large and real climate negotiations are very complicated,” Verendel said. “The scientific models used today give a simplified picture. We have shown how strategic reasoning can be modelled, and applied the model to the special case where an environmental disaster will result if a known level of total emissions is exceeded. Our research shows that it is more difficult to agree in these cases when higher levels of strategic reasoning are introduced into the earlier models.”
As a result of his research, Verendel found that negotiators are more likely to come to an agreement if some select conditions are agreed upon before the final negotiation period starts.
“In our models, it is easier to cooperate if the most extreme bargaining positions are eliminated before negotiations begin – for example, not being willing to do anything at all about emissions or starting out from very low emissions levels,” Verendel said. “Eliminating these extreme positions increases the possibility of reaching an agreement.”
For more on Chalmers’ report in Nature Climate change, click here.
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