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Managing the Global Commons. Urs Luterbacher Graduate institute of International Studies. What are commons?. Commons are an ambiguous notion They can mean resources belonging to No one and thus to whoever has access to them

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managing the global commons

Managing the Global Commons

Urs Luterbacher

Graduate institute of International Studies

what are commons
What are commons?
  • Commons are an ambiguous notion
  • They can mean resources belonging to
    • No one and thus to whoever has access to them
    • To several owners. There may or may not be complex ownership and use rules
  • The term takes its origins from land in medieval communities that was open to most people in them
  • It also applies now to international spaces and resources
why study commons
Why study commons?
  • One can show that in the long run open access type commons lead to overuse
  • The tragedy of the commons! Many aspects
  • They lead to un-sustainability: Ownership problem and market failure
  • This is true for local as well as global commons
  • How can this problem be tackled analytically? Does it take several forms? What does it lead to?
  • What are the solutions? Are these different locally, regionally and globally? What are the instruments to be used?
  • Global commons raise specific problems
environment economy polity
Environment, economy, polity
  • One often hears that the environment, the economy, the political system obey fundamentally different logics
  • Is this correct?
  • Intuition tells us after some thinking that this is not the case: There is no economy without ecology, no political system without an economic system
  • Moreover, the economic system and the political system feedback on the environment: Early agricultural kingdoms of the Mid-East, system collapses, conflict about resources
private goods externalities and public goods
Private goods, externalities, and public goods
  • Clearly an analytical framework is needed to study the relationships between these 3 aspects and to put them under a common (no pun intended) roof
  • For convenience sake we will use the framework used originally by economists but the taken over by political scientists and resource analysts: Different kinds of goods
  • Private goods: While my preferences or well-being depends on what I purchase, it does not depend on what others purchase
  • Public goods: When I purchase units of it I can not keep others from consume it as well (non excludability)
  • Public goods lead then to externalities good or bad!!
collective goods and institutions
Collective goods and institutions
  • Collective (public) goods are then up to a point non exclusive and some of them are non-rival
  • They can lead to peculiar behavior such as free riding and the exploitation of the strong by the weak
  • Some collective goods are semi exclusive and called club goods, some are rival and called commons (negative externalities)
  • Commons often are related to “fugitive” goods
  • All public goods require institutional settings in the form of coalitions
  • These modify incentives and behavior
illustration the triadic coalition model
Illustration the triadic coalition model
  • This is revealed in Caplow’s coalition game in the triad: A, B, C but A>B>C, with A<B+C
  • Table of gains
  • The weak free rides on the strong
  • Notice: the additivity assumption
the tragedy of the commons and its solutions
The Tragedy of the Commons and its Solutions
  • The tragedy notion is due to the work of Hardin (1968)
  • It represents an open access field situation in which every participant has an incentive to put more and more animals for grazing
  • The Hardin common represents individual gains but shared common losses as the field gets to be totally overgrazed
  • Under the circumstances, the grass is a fugitive resource that everybody has an incentive to grab before the other!
the tragedy a rigorous analysis
The Tragedy: A rigorous analysis
  • Hardin’s analysis is verbal and kind of loose
  • He does not consider the costs associated with herding itself
  • His strategic analysis is vague and has led to a lot of confusion in the literature
  • His analysis of solutions to the problem he is investigating is limited and imprecise
  • He only evokes property rights solutions
  • Nevertheless, his general conclusions are correct if commons are associated with open access
strategic aspects
Strategic aspects
  • Strategic aspects of the common will depend on what agents anticipate about each other
  • Do they have means of retaliating for damage? Not in open access common
  • Their behavior is conditioned by others and the importance of moving first

Instruments of solution


Market for externalities solution

property rights solutions
Property rights solutions
  • Advantages stressed by Coase
  • Externalities can be bargained away
  • Not always possible because of information problems
  • Property rights may emerge spontaneously (Demsetz)
  • Problem: Monitoring and transaction costs
theory of slowly renewable resources
Theory of slowly renewable resources
  • Slowly renewable resources have to be evaluated as an evolving stock such as a population minus withdrawals

Evolution of z = Natural Dynamics of z minus catches

slowly renewable resources production
Slowly renewable resources: Production
  • Producers will be drawn into using the stock by profits:

Evolution of inputs x, if average profits are positive, if F is production, q unit price, p unit costs

equilibrium conditions
Equilibrium conditions
  • In equilibrium there should be an optimal level of the resource z if:

Is maximized subject to the relation (1) before and where r is a discount rate: The discounted sum of all future profits is maximized with a discount rate r, the spot price of the resource is thus dependent on availability of z in nature and the discount rate

optimal policies
Optimal policies
  • To keep a renewable resource from getting exhausted 2 conditions have to be met:
    • A spot fee corresponding to the spot price has to be charged to correspond to the scarcity rent:
    • A license fee per producer unit: These 2 conditions are naturally fulfilled with property rights
exhaustible resources
Exhaustible Resources
  • No resource is truly renewable like no resource is truly exhaustible
  • The whole question is a question of timing
  • Resources that renew themselves very slowly (hundreds or thousands of years) are considered exhaustible
  • Engineers and economists were very concerned with this question in the beginning of the last century
  • This led to the question: How to deal optimally with such resources?
how to conceptualize exhaustible resources
How to conceptualize exhaustible resources?
  • The answer was given in the late 1920s and early 1930s by Harold Hotelling: the Hotelling principle
  • An exhaustible resource is an asset and its net price (market price - extraction costs) should increase exponentially with the interest (or discount rate, to some extent a socio-political construct), i.e.:

P(t) = P(0)ert or (dP/dt)/P = r

optimal depletion
Optimal depletion
  • If for the resource Z, the price is P. Total value of resource: PZ.
  • Compare to other assets, P has to grow as P(0)ert to stay competitive
  • Competitive resource owners will deplete at a socially optimal rate
  • Take r the rate if return to the owner of natural resources. In equilibrium : r = r
  • Whenever, r… r, we have a conservationists dilemma.
conditions for the optimal working of hotelling principle
Conditions for the optimal working of Hotelling principle
  • 1. No externalities
  • 2. No uncertainty about future sales, exploration prospects, etc.
  • 3. No extraction with environmental externalities (ex. Gold Rush).
  • 4. Not too big differences between private and market (social) discount rate (for instance due to dangers of transfer within society)
example deforestation processes
Example: Deforestation processes
  • According to Hotelling principles a forested area is a particular type of asset whose capitalized value should grow with the interest rate. If this growth is not achieved other assets including agricultural ones will be closer and the forested land will either sold for development or transformed into another agricultural asset.
  • In particular: If the income flow stemming from the forest is lower than the income flow from other activities then deforestation will occur!
this can be due to
This can be due to:
  • subsidies for agricultural production
  • income subsidies or welfare
  • cost of property rights enforcement
  • prohibition of trade
  • unclearly defined property rights
other incentive models the owen land use model
Other incentive models: The Owen land use model
  • The land use model developed by Owen assumes only two types of land use, agriculture and dwelling and examines the special case of areas around urban centers
  • Whether land will be transformed into dwelling will depend on income streams generated by both
  • Arrival of newcomers increases income streams from dwellings especially if migrants get subsidies
conclusions of owen model and further development
Conclusions of Owen model and further development
  • Even under normal conditions, as long as there is an attraction to moving into an urban area such as a subsidy or the hope of a job, farm land will be urbanized down to a critical value which can be very close to zero.
  • Higher interest rate for agricultural investments as opposed to investments for urban dwellings will accelerate the process.
further conclusions
Further conclusions
  • Mass migration which can result from climate change will accelerate this process.
  • Foreign aid and relief can accelerate the process
  • An Ill-defined property right regime will initially slow but then accelerate the process.
  • Climate change might reduce net profits made from agricultural production and accelerate the process.
estimating costs and the scarcity rent
Estimating costs and the scarcity rent
  • As revealed by the Stern review (2006), discount rates constitute an important parameter in estimating climate change costs and the issue of acting now vs acting later
  • Low discount rates will increase the cost estimates of climate change almost irrespectively of the seriousness of climate change (cf. formula)
ethics and costs
Ethics and costs
  • The discount rate debate is an ethical one: How to value the present generation vs future ones: the closer to 0 the more future generations are valued
  • There is also a trade off in the present vs future: better things across space instead of time measured by another parameter which Dasgupta calls  andwhich is taken as 1 by the Stern review
  • According to Dasgupta  should be greater than 1 (attention paid to inequality)
the cooperation problem
The Cooperation Problem
  • Cooperation in a decentralized system presents difficulties
  • Some forms of cooperation are more difficult to achieve than others
  • This is the case for environmental cooperation
  • Illustration with extended PD and Chicken
cooperation is a different problem for trade and the environment
Cooperation is a different problem for trade and the environment
  • Trade: Multiplayer PD with retaliation possibilities
  • Environment: No credible retaliation
  • Strategic problem, finding ways to exclude cheaters or to induce non participants to come in: Greif paper
  • Almost “natural” in trade
  • Much more difficult in environment: shunning or invention of exclusionary mechanisms
the problem at the level of international environmental agreements
The Problem at the Level of International Environmental Agreements
  • General monitoring of activities
  • Montreal: Exclusion via trade prohibitions
  • Kyoto:
    • Exclusion via prohibition of advantages: CDM
    • Compliance mechanism against cheaters
  • The cooperation problem is further complicated by domestic issues
    • Trade: Trade losers
    • Environment: Environmental losers
cooperation at the regional level
Cooperation at the regional level
  • Cooperation at the regional level can often take the form of common endeavors leading to common property
  • There are clear advantages to common property: risk sharing. The example of pools of water under properties defined at the surface is relevant. For each individual owner of the surface properties, digging a well might not be worth it because of the risks associated with the prospect of not finding any water under a particular property
  • Risk sharing in a common property arrangement tremendously increases the possibility of deriving benefits from digging wells in a coordinated fashion. In fact, the greater the number of participants in the risk sharing operation, the lower the costs associated with the enterprise and thus the higher the benefits for each individual owner: Insurance
  • Even risk- averse individual owners have an incentive to enter such an insurance scheme, which renders the costs of risk bearing negative
example water asymmetries
Example : Water Asymmetries
  • Standard solutions often don’t work
  • They can add to the problem if for instance property rights have initially been distributed in a way that leads to inefficiencies
  • They will then often lead to conflict and credibility problems
credibility issues perfect and imperfect information
Credibility Issues: Perfect and imperfect Information
  • Paradoxically in a sequential bargaining process the lack of knowledge of the opponent’s real intentions can lead to prudence and keep the other side prudent as well (risk averse)
  • It can thus lead to the emergence of equilibria which can lead to cooperative outcomes
  • It is best if such outcomes are backed by international institutional settings
central asia has good water resources from mountains and glaciers
Central Asia has Good Water Resources from Mountains and Glaciers
  • Example: Kyrgyzstan Petrov Glacier, Ak-Shyrak Range

Alt: 3800 m

water use leads here to major inefficiencies
Water Use leads here to major inefficiencies
  • Water is wasted for cotton production in areas otherwise not suited for this culture
  • It is provided for free most often so no incentive to preserve it
  • 32,000 km of Canals, poorly maintained and full of leaks
  • Karakoum canal: 1,340 km open air in the Turkmenistan Desert
these lead to transboundary conflicts on allocations
These lead to transboundary conflicts on allocations
  • Countries are constrained by a water quota system dating back to the Soviet Era
    • The Almaty Agreement (1992)
    • Some extensions and revisions in different years especially in (1998: exact amount of energy to be exported)
    • Under the system Kyrgyzstan gets only 10% of the waters of the Syr Daria basin
    • This prohibits the use of major developments in power generation
  • Any attempts to retain more water has lead to retaliations by down-stream countries
  • Interruption of fossil fuel deliveries
conflict is the most inefficient form of environmental management can we do better
Conflict is the most inefficient form of environmental management: Can we do better?
  • Project: an attempt at proposing solutions
  • Such solutions have to enhance efficiency
  • All regions have to profit
potential of kyrgyz s tan
Potential of Kyrgyzstan
  • Kyrgyzstan generates an annual total flow of about 51 km3
  • This flow could increase by 10 % under projected climate change through precipitations and glacier melt
  • Hydropower could extend to 150 billion kwh if potential fully used

Basic Economic Trends:Value Added:Value added is the net output of a sector after adding up all outputs and subtracting intermediate inputs. It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or depletion and degradation of natural resources.Value Added in Industry: (Source: World Bank)

solution to conflict
Solution to Conflict
  • Is it possible to improve the welfare of the whole region: Kyrgyzstan +Kazakhstan +Uzbekistan?
  • Yes, by letting Kyrgyzstan use its full hydroelectric potential and export it cheaply to the region
  • Kyrgyzstan with 150 billion kwh potential can produce more than enough for the region: In 2000, entire production of Kyrgyzstan +Kazakhstan +Uzbekistan= 106 billions
  • Tadjikistan has almost the same potential, so 300 billion kwh would be available !
kyrgyz s tan can make use of high altitude dams
Kyrgyzstan can make use of high altitude dams
  • They can advantageously replace fossil fuel facilities
  • They can adapt instantaneously to demand and intervene in times where spot prices are high
  • But are they advantageous for the whole region?
  • Answer with the help of a numerical model

Yes: Expanded production can improve total value added for the three countries!This solution presents however the credibility problems mentioned

2 important international conventions at the global environmental level
2 important international conventions at the global environmental level
  • The Vienna Convention of 1985 and the Montreal Protocol to it in 1987 (ratified 1989)
  • The Rio convention 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol 1997 (ratified 2005)
vienna and montreal protocol
Vienna and Montreal Protocol
  • Following the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole in late 1985, governments recognized the need for stronger measures to reduce the production and consumption of a number of CFCs (CFC 11, 12, 113, 114, and 115) and several Halons (1211, 1301, 2402). The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was adopted on 16 September 1987
  • These substances are essentially banned and trade in them is also banned, including trade in goods mad with such substances
  • Developing countries are helped via a Multilateral Fund and a Global Environmental Facility Fund
montreal characteristics
Montreal: characteristics
  • Essentially a command and control approach
  • Possible because of focus on a very specific problem
  • The solution is essentially “low cost” since substitutes exist
the climate regime the unfccc and kyoto
The Climate Regime: The UNFCCC and Kyoto
  • The UNFCCC elaborated in Rio in 1992
    • Only one obligation: to report national greenhouse gas emissions
    • Mostly recommendations: stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at their 1990 levels for industrialized countries
  • Berlin 1995:
    • Initial effort in greenhouse gas mitigation had to be done by industrialized countries
  • Geneva 1996:
    • US Undersecretary of State Timothy Wirth expresses support for binding reduction targets in exchange for emission trading: The road to Kyoto 3rd meeting of UNFCCC parties in 1997 is open
the kyoto protocol 1997
The Kyoto Protocol (1997)
  • 5.2 % reduction of emission levels below 1990 levels by 2008-2012 for all industrialized countries
  • Specific targets for various countries: US -7%, EU -8%, Japan -6%, Switzerland -8%, but Australia + 8%, Norway +1%, Iceland +10%!
  • 6 greenhouse gases are considered: CO2, CH4 (methane),N2 O (nitrous oxide), HFC (hexafluorocarbon), PFC (perfluocarbon), SF6 (sulphur hexafluoride)
  • Kyoto became effective with the Russian ratification at the end of 2004, the US and Australia refused ratification
  • It got officially underway on Feb. 16, 2005
the kyoto flexible mechanisms
The Kyoto Flexible Mechanisms
  • Emission reductions can be achieved in a variety of ways, country specific and/or with the enhancement of carbon sinks or through the use of the so-called Kyoto flexible mechanisms which are:
    • Emissions trading between industrialized countries: The EU commission has started the process within Europe
    • Joint implementation between industrialized countries
    • The clean development mechanism between industrialized and developing countries: Some promising first steps
kyoto is only defined until 2012 the us refusal has instituted a dual negotiation regime
Kyoto is only defined until 2012, The US refusal has instituted a dual negotiation regime
  • Negotiations continue under the general UNFCCC regime (with the US) within the Conference Of the Parties framework
  • Separate negotiations are carried out within the Members Of the Kyoto Protocol group
  • These two groups started their work at COP 11 and MOP 1 in Montreal Nov. 28-Dec. 9
formally the kyoto protocol is working
Formally the Kyoto Protocol is working
  • Targets not reached for EU 15 but EU 27
  • Russian and Ukrainian “Hot Air” insure that its goals are reached
two kinds of instruments were originally envisaged
Two kinds of instruments were originally envisaged
  • Taxes (carbon taxes)
  • Tradable permits also called cap and trade systems
  • Both systems have advantages and disadvantages
tax advantages and disadvantages
Tax advantages and disadvantages
  • Taxes are fixed once and can be adjusted in a controlled way
  • They are simple to levy
  • They however do not target a quantity
  • So far the experience is not that they harmonize prices!
  • They rather tend to create distortions between countries as to what is taxed and who taxes
  • They can have counter productive effects (Chichilnisky paper)
permit advantages and disadvantages
Permit advantages and disadvantages
  • They target quantities
  • They can be exchanged down to the individual level
  • They provide the individual with part of the scarcity rent thus creating incentives
  • They lead however to volatile prices
  • They demand a relatively complex monitoring system
attempts have been made to simulate climate society interactions at the global level
Attempts have been made to simulate climate society interactions at the global level
  • Nordhaus proposed the DICE model in 1993
  • It is an aggregated economic world model which estimates the impact the economy has on climate and climatic feedbacks in terms of damages to the economy
  • A more disaggregated model called RICE was proposed in 1996.
  • It incorporates 6 world regions interacting with each other US, E,U Japan, Former Soviet Union, China, Rest of the World: One can then compute coaltion outcomes
conclusions from the nordhaus models
Conclusions from the Nordhaus models
  • The DICE model suggests modest reductions now and much more in the future
  • It insists on the importance of full participation and the fact that non participation increases costs
  • It suggests a look at geo-engineering approaches
  • RICE indicates that the US would not benefit from a cooperative approach while most other regions would
eyckmans and tulkens modify the nordhaus model rice
Eyckmans and Tulkens modify the Nordhaus model RICE
  • They show that a slightly different formulation and different assumptions about discount rates modify the RICE results
  • In their formulation, the US would have an incentive to cooperate, China less
  • This might be due to them using regionally differentiated discount rates
trade the big unknown
Trade the big unknown
  • Trade and the application of the Kyoto protocol: Could there be problems?
  • 2 possible areas of contention: CDM’s and Green protectionism in the form of border tax adjustments
  • The trade effects of models poorly understood
  • On the one hand: accelerate the movement toward uniformization of standards
  • On the other, undermine the reduction process through loopholes
  • Much remains to be analyzed!
  • Requirements
  • Take Home: Based on the literature for April 23 write a short essay (5 pages max) on what sustainability means in its relationship to commons and to international and global issues.
  • Test on the whole course.
  • March 12: General Introduction to Course: Substance, Organization, Requirements
  • March 19: Substantive Introduction: Collective Goods and their different characteristics
  • Sandler Todd and Daniel G. Arce (2002) “Pure Public Goods versus Commons” Research Paper, USC
  • Taylor Michael (1987) The Possibility of Cooperation Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, Chapt. 1(Introduction)
syllabus continued
Syllabus continued
  • March 26: The Problem of the Commons: Statics, Corrective Instruments, Property Rights
  • Hardin, Garret, (1968) The Tragedy of the Commons, Science, 162:1243-48.
  • Coase, Ronald (1960) “The Problem of Social Cost” The Journal of Law and Economics, 3:1-44.
  • Demsetz Harold (1967) “Towards a Theory of Property Rights” The American Economic Review, 57,2 : 347-359.
  • Dasgupta, P.S. and G. M. Heal (1979) Economic Theory and Exhaustible Resources. The Cambridge economic Handbooks, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapters 1, 2 (11-21), and 3.
April 2: The Problem of the Commons: Dynamics, Renewable Resources, Instruments
  • Dasgupta, P.S. and G. M. Heal (1979) Economic Theory and Exhaustible Resources. The Cambridge economic Handbooks, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 5.
  • (Easter vacation, from April 6 to April 15, 2007)
  • April 16: Exhaustible Resources, Land Use Issues
  • Dasgupta, P.S. and G. M. Heal (1979) Economic Theory and Exhaustible Resources. The Cambridge economic Handbooks, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 6.
  • Luterbacher, Urs (2004) “Migration Patterns, Land Use and Climate Change” in Unruh, Jon D. Maarten S. Krol and Nurit Kliot Environmental Change and its Implications for Population Migration Dordrecht: Kluwer: 165-175.
  • April 23: The Conservationist Dilemma, Sustainability Issues and the Future
  • Y. Hossein Farzin (1984) “The Effect of the Discount Rate on Depletion of Exhaustible Resources” The Journal of Political Economy, 92, 5: 841-851.
  • Stern, Nicolas (2006) The case for action to reduce the risks of climate change
  • Stern Nicolas (2006) Value judgments, welfare weights and discounting: issues and evidence
  • Stern Nicolas (2006) Building an effective international response to climate
  • Change
  • Dasgupta, Partha (2006) Comments on the Stern Review's Economics of Climate Change
  • Nordhaus, William (2006) The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change
April 30: The International Situation and International Cooperation Questions
  • Greif, Avner (1993) Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: The Maghribi Traders’ Coalition, The American Economic Review, 83, 3, 525-548.
  • Barrett, Scott (1998) A Theory of International Co-operation, Working Paper, Johns Hopkins University School of Avanced International Studies.
  • Luterbacher, Urs(1994) International Cooperation: The Problem of the Commons and the Special Case of the Antarctic Region, Synthese 100: 413-440.
  • May 7: Regional Cooperation Problems and Solutions
  • Luterbacher, Urs, Valerii Kuzmichenok, Gulnara Shalpykova and Ellen Wiegandt “Glaciers and Efficient Water Use in Central Asia” in Orlove Benjamin, Ellen Wiegandt and Brian Luckman, Darkening Peaks, Berkeley, Universitiy of California Press, forthcoming.
  • Luterbacher, Urs and Dushan Mamatkhanov “Water and Mountains, Upstream and Downstream Relationships: Analyzing Unequal Relations” in Ellen Wiegandt edit. Mountains: Sources of Water, Sources of Knowledge Amsterdam Springer-Kluwer, forthcoming.
May 14: The Montreal and the Kyoto Protocol
  • Benedick Richard The Improbable Montreal Protocol: Science, Diplomacy and Defending the Ozone Layer
  • Bodansky, Daniel (2001)l “The History of the Global Climate Change Regime” in Luterbacher Urs and Detlef Sprinz International Relations and Global Climate Change, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: 23-40
  • Bodansky, Daniel (2001)l “International Law and the Design of Climate Change” in Luterbacher Urs and Detlef Sprinz International Relations and Global Climate Change, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: 201-220.
  • Grubb, Michael (with Christian Vrolijk and Duncan Brack) (1999) The Kyoto Protocol: A Guide and Assessment, London: The Royal Insitute of International Affairs, Chapters 4 and 7.
  • May 21: The Instrument Debate
  • Chichilnisky, Graciela (1997) "North-South Trade and the Global Environment", American Economic Review 84: 851-74.
  • Chichilnisky, Graciela (1997) Development and Global Finance: The Case for an International Bank of Environmental Settlements, UNDP Discussion Paper Series.
  • Nordhaus William D.(2005)Life After Kyoto: Alternative Approaches to Global Warming Policies
  • May 28: Pentecost Monday
June 4: Managing the International Environment: The Future of the Major Accords
  • Nordhaus William and Zilli Yang (1996) “A Regional Dynamic General-Equilibrium Model of Alternative Climate-Change Strategies”, American Economic Review 86, 741–765.
  • Eyckmans Jon and Henry Tulkens (2003) Simulating coalitionally stable burden sharing agreements for the climat change problem Resource and Energy Economics, In press.
  • Luterbacher Urs and Carla Norrlöf (2001)“The Organization of World Trade and the Climate Regime” in Luterbacher Urs and Detlef Sprinz International Relations and Global Climate Change Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: 279-295.
  • June 11: Test