Tag Archives: collective action problem

Beyond the silver bullet: the case for diversity in responding to climate change

With all the buzz and anti-buzz about the climate change talks in Copenhagen, it’s easy to get caught up in the dis-empowering idea that a global Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), agreed upon top-down, at Copenhagen (or maybe at the next conference…) is the only hope for meaningful action on climate change. After all, climate change is a global problem, with huge free-rider risks, so it must require a global solution, right?

Nobel prize-winning economist Elinor Ostrom makes the case, in her working paper “A Polycentric Approach for Coping with Climate Change” that a better response to the problems of climate change is ‘polycentric’ with a diversity of responses occurring simultaneously in different geographical locations and at different levels of government and society.

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Filed under Barry, climate change

Trust is the key to engaging communities in green politics

Why does anyone bother to join social activist organisations, and commit time and energy to their causes? It is a problem worth considering because non-members (‘free riders’) enjoy the benefits of successful social change just as much as the members do, though only the members incur the costs. This might suggest that, on the basis of a purely rational ‘social cost-benefit analysis’, most people will not bother to join, say, unions or environmental organisations when they can get the benefits for free. This incentive to not bother supporting these organisations is often described as the ‘collective action problem’ or the ‘free-rider problem.’

However, since it is clear that many people do join a wide variety of such organisations, the question might be put another way: What are the incentives that overcome the self-interest of the free-rider mentality?

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Filed under David, green politics