Over two decades of failure in climate talks – maybe it is just time to give up instead of trying game theory?

How climate talks can be more successful

May 12, 2014 by Angela Herring, Northeastern University

For more than two decades, mem­bers of the United Nations have sought to forge an agree­ment to reduce global green­house gas emis­sions. But so far, these inter­na­tional cli­mate nego­ti­a­tions have had lim­ited success.

What’s more, game the­o­ret­ical mod­eling of the nego­ti­a­tions sug­gests that there are fea­sible solu­tions to the problem. That is, there are com­mit­ments that the coun­tries par­tic­i­pating in the nego­ti­a­tions could agree to that would accom­plish the tar­geted global emis­sions reduc­tions. “So, if these solu­tions are there, the ques­tion is why nego­ti­a­tions have not yet reached them – why don’t we have an agree­ment,” said Ron San­dler, a pro­fessor of phi­los­ophy at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity who focuses on envi­ron­mental ethics.

“We thought the problem might be not be with the poten­tial solu­tions that might or might not exist, but rather reaching them from where we are now,” added Rory Smead, an assis­tant pro­fessor of Phi­los­ophy at North­eastern and an expert in game theory.

In a paper released Sunday in the journal Nature Cli­mate Change, Smead, San­dler, and their col­leagues, including North­eastern Assis­tant Pro­fessor John Basl, put forth a new mod­eling approach that exam­ines this very problem.  The results sug­gest that side agree­ments, such as bilat­eral com­mit­ments between the US and China or those made in venues like the G8 and G20 sum­mits may be even more impor­tant than pre­vi­ously suspected.

Most cli­mate nego­ti­a­tion mod­eling studies have used social dilemma games such as the prisoner’s dilemma, in which the best inter­ests of the indi­vidual agent are not the same as those of the whole. But, as Smead said, “All coun­tries in a sense want to solve this problem—what they dis­agree on is how to go about solving it.”

So rather than using a social dilemma game, the research team used a bar­gaining nego­ti­a­tion model. Here’s how it works: Mul­tiple players must coor­di­nate on an agree­ment with the goal of cut­ting global green­house gas emis­sions by the tar­geted amount. While each agent would like to keep his own reduc­tions as low as pos­sible, he would prefer to increase his pro­posal if it means the group would be more likely to reach a con­sensus. “If push comes to shove, they’d prefer to do more,” Smead said.

The game starts with each player making an ini­tial pro­posal to reduce emis­sions by a cer­tain amount. Then the players see what their fellow par­tic­i­pants pro­posed to and read­just their own pro­posals. Repeating this sev­eral times will even­tu­ally either lead to a break down in nego­ti­a­tions or an agree­ment that makes everyone happy.

It’s a simple model that doesn’t take into account such things as national pol­i­tics and enforce­ment sce­narios, but it has an impor­tant fea­ture: It reveals poten­tial bar­riers to suc­cessful nego­ti­a­tions that might be hidden in more com­plex models.

The research team found that a few fac­tors were extremely impor­tant in main­taining suc­cessful nego­ti­a­tions. In par­tic­ular, agree­ments were more likely to be reached if the group  was­com­prised of fewer agents rather than many; if the group con­sisted of a variety of small and large emit­ters; and if the per­ceived indi­vidual threat of not reaching an agree­ment was high.

“The results bare on a number of polit­ical ques­tions,” San­dler said. “For instance, while we ulti­mately need an agree­ment that includes reduc­tions from almost everyone, side agree­ments among smaller num­bers of par­tic­i­pants don’t undermine—but may actu­ally promote—the U.N. process.”

Since smaller groups are more likely to reach con­sensus, the researchers said, it would be better for a sub­group of coun­tries to come to a con­sensus on its own and then bring that single pro­posal to the larger group.

“It would be much better if the rest of the world could figure out a poten­tial agree­ment and then invite coun­tries such as China and the U.S. to the table,” Smead explained. If that smaller group’s offer is sufficient—that is, if it promises to reduce emis­sions by the pro­por­tional amount nec­es­sary to achieve the global goal—then it should be suc­cessful in the larger venue.

This sug­gests that efforts such as the G8 and G20 cli­mate sum­mits are actu­ally ben­e­fi­cial to the efforts of the United Nations Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change, which is con­sid­ered the most impor­tant cli­mate bar­gaining forum. Many have wor­ried that these smaller efforts weaken UNFCCC’s work, but the new research dis­putes that concern.

– See more at: http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2014/05/modeling-international-climate-negotiations/#sthash.4YMGgCQu.dpuf

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Alan Robertson
May 13, 2014 12:16 am

Five, Six
Pick up sticks

May 13, 2014 12:17 am

“All countries in a sense want to solve this problem—what they disagree on is how to go about solving it.”
All countries? And, what’s “this problem”? Moreover, in what “sense”does an unclear number of countries want to solve an uncleanly formulated problem?

May 13, 2014 12:22 am

Environmental ethics philosophers using game theory to model climate change talks by policymakers regarding emission reduction.
It cannot get more amateurish than that.

May 13, 2014 12:25 am

But if they gave up then all those important people would have to give up one of their favorite taxpayer-financed junkets.

May 13, 2014 12:27 am

“Since smaller groups are more likely to reach con­sensus, the researchers said, ”
Absolute genius! How could the world survive without the searing insight of these academic boffins?
“… and if the per­ceived indi­vidual threat of not reaching an agree­ment was high.”
Oh right, so all we need to do is exaggerate the dangers of global warming, scare everyone shitless and then they’ll all agree to do what we tell them.
Wow, it’s so simple , how comes no one had thought of this before?!

May 13, 2014 12:28 am

The whole concept of emissions cuts is a hilarious farce. With emissions cuts, the prize goes to whoever cheats the most – whoever does the best job of misreporting their emissions, while delivering the cheapest possible energy to their economy. Whoever wins the climate game enjoys prosperity and political popularity, the worst losers are always those who seriously attempt to fulfil their commitments.

Peter Miller
May 13, 2014 12:30 am

This is getting boring, as this damn wolf is never going to come.

michael hart
May 13, 2014 12:31 am

The anchor text in the URL says it all:


I hope they can model politics better than the IPCC can model climate.
If they are as good as they think they are, then we could all do away with the bother of actually having elections if they can already tell us the answer.
Is it logically possible to model stupidity?

May 13, 2014 12:39 am

But, why bother at all?

gary turner
May 13, 2014 12:43 am

“The results bare on a number of polit­ical ques­tions,” (?) Why ever would the results get naked? These are college graduates who don’t know the difference between getting naked and depending?
Not that it matters anyway, since the desired result is not borne by evidence. Or, maybe in this case the result would be made bare by the evidence.

michael hart
May 13, 2014 12:43 am

That’s a fair question Rob. If we were too good at it then we might be faced with the prospect of an international philosophers strike.

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
May 13, 2014 12:51 am

I look forward to the next BRIC through the AGW window.

May 13, 2014 12:53 am

business in China is fighting back:
13 May: Reuters: Guangdong carbon scheme sparks China green vs growth dispute
By Kathy Chen and Stian Reklev
Additional reporting by David Stanway
China’s campaign against pollution and greenhouse gases is hitting early resistance in Guangdong province, where more than 60 manufacturers are holding back from a carbon market launched last year, saying the scheme is unfair and too costly.
The stand-off between a quarter of the intended participants in the emissions market and the provincial government underlines the difficulty in implementing green policies in China, even after the launch of a national “war against pollution”…
“There is no reason for companies to pay millions of yuan a year (for carbon permits) when environment and energy regulators already charge us other pollution fees,” said an official at provincial government-owned iron and steel producer SGIS Songshan, which has not bought any carbon permits.
The official, who wanted to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to media, said pollution costs were already weighing heavily on the company as it must also pay fees for sulphur dioxide emissions, waste water and solid waste, and adhere to strict efficiency standards.
Despite strong backing from Beijing, Guangdong has limited power to force SGIS or other hold-outs – mostly cement and steel makers – to participate in its carbon market. It can hit them with a fine of 50,000 yuan ($8,000) per company and a possible reduction in the number of permits allocated to them next year.
That’s measured, though, against an aggregate 42 million yuan the companies need to spend for access to carbon permits with a market value of 1.4 billion yuan…
In Guangdong, the local government hands out for free 97 percent of the permits that companies are expected to need to cover their emissions. To access the permits, they must buy the other 3 percent in auctions at a minimum price of 60 yuan each.
Yet, when the last planned auction for the 2013 compliance year ended a week ago, data from the China Emissions Exchange in Guangzhou showed that 64 of the 242 companies covered by the scheme still had not bought any carbon permits.
“Some of the companies don’t have the money to pay for the permits. They are unlikely to change their mind and will not engage even if there are more permit auctions,” said a consultant with several steel mills holding back from the Guangdong market among his clients…
“We have noticed the companies’ concern and are discussing how to handle it,” said an official with the Guangdong government’s carbon trading department who wished to remain anonymous.
The government may arrange an extra auction in order to give companies another opportunity to buy permits and is also looking at ways to use auction revenue to help the firms cut emissions, the official said…
Li Xinchuang, vice-secretary general of the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA), recently told a conference some regions face environmental costs twice as high as other areas.
Only one of China’s other six pilot markets, in Hubei province, auctions a share of the permits, but there is no minimum requirement and the minimum price is set at 20 yuan.
The remaining four pilot schemes – in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tianjin – issue carbon permits for free, while in the rest of China, companies do not now face any carbon costs.
The country’s large- and medium-sized steel mills lost 2.3 billion yuan in the first quarter of 2014, according to CISA, at least in part due to rising pollution costs…

Bob Ryan
May 13, 2014 12:58 am

Although I do not believe that CO2 emissions present an existential threat to humanity there are very good reasons why reducing the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels makes sense. High levels of consumption creates high demand which forces up prices and drives extractors to more and more marginal and costly sources of supply. Better to focus fossil fuel consumption in those areas where there are no feasible substitutes and refocus the many billion spent on climate research onto the development of second and third wave energy technologies. Nuclear is a far safer and cheaper alternative than it was 50 years ago. Solar panels are expensive and ugly but new product coatings and materials are being developed which could transform this source of energy.
In my view Sandler and his team are pointing in the right direction. A multiplicity of less fraught side agreements could lead to more efficient global energy solutions without the imposition of transnational monitoring by the UN. Such agreements would also encourage technology exchange and the sharing of resources which could allow a better global solution to the world’s energy needs to emerge. Whatever the climate and however it changes, reshaping the global energy landscape has to be a key priority given that another 2 billion souls are expected to swell the world’s population by 2030. Another side benefit of a more successful energy strategy is that it would facilitate the redeployment of the huge, global, AGW research funding. Research funding which only encourages academic numpties to produce toilet paper research whose only purpose is to catch the attention of the IPCC reviewers and whose defining characteristic is that it is inevitably wrong.

May 13, 2014 1:00 am

–as Smead said, “All coun­tries in a sense want to solve this problem—what they dis­agree on is how to go about solving it.”–
This slightly more foolishness than all countries want peace.
Chinese government has more incentive to stop polluting it’s cities so less Chinese die from the massive toxic junk they spewing into the atmosphere. And what country is going to disagree with that priority?
So basically all the chinese are going negotiate is what they want anyhow- and what they are negotiating for is to somehow get some sort of payment or better concession they can get from other countries. And so one can imagine what kind of concession the Chinese could want. Right?
Chinese are already in war over south china seas.
Pretty simple to know how Chinese want to play these dummies.

Jimmy Haigh.
May 13, 2014 1:28 am

I think they should hold the conferences in exotic tropical locations like, for example, Tahiti. (Tropical locations are less likely to suffer from the Gore effect…) That way the hard working “Climate Scientists” and all the political and Hollywood activist balloon-chasing hangers-on will be in a far better frame of mind to continue their planet-saving work.

May 13, 2014 1:32 am

Angela Herring seems to be a bit left-leaning in her politics, I guess in the climate debate she’s just another Red Herring.

Village Idiot
May 13, 2014 1:36 am

“For more than two decades, mem­bers of the United Nations have sought to forge an agree­ment to reduce global green­house gas emis­sions. But so far, these inter­na­tional cli­mate nego­ti­a­tions have had lim­ited success.”
This is where I am a true, pure, dyed in the wool sceptic (I would proudly use the stronger D word but would – yet again – have my comment axed by the Moderator Mafioso)
IPCC: “Emissions need to be reduced by 40% to 70% on 2010 levels by the middle of the century and to near zero by 2100, to make it likely temperatures will not go above 2C”
There is NO WAY the World community will ever get together to achieve this. The proof is seen in the fact that so far NOTHING has been done. Individuals, businesses, countries are just too interested in feathering number one’s nest to make, or even consider, the changes necessary – read Economic Growth – more stuff. Then there’s population growth – though economic growth is the main driver behind the growing global GHG emissions.
Bottom line: Humans (generally) are far too selfish to either recognize the problem, or if they do, to do anything about it. Only thing to do is fasten your seatbelt…

May 13, 2014 1:59 am

And now it’s Game Theory, no less!
…….An utter pre-occupation with the abstract; Climate Change is like that!

May 13, 2014 2:02 am

The cli­mate nego­ti­a­tion mod­eling studies are failing and the global climate modeling is failing….the problem is too many modellers and not enough good people immersed in actual reality.

Hilary Ostrov (aka hro001)
May 13, 2014 2:07 am

What is it, I wonder, that these people in their ivory towers do not understand about the fact that “Action taken on climate change” has been at the very bottom of the world’s priority heap for at least the better part of a year – according to (believe it or not) a UN sponsored survey, that now claims to have over 2 million respondents!
NEWSFLASH: Climate change still at bottom of world’s priority heap
Amazing. Simply amazing.

May 13, 2014 2:07 am

The real issue is that the IPCC ‘consensus’ is based on juvenile scientific mistakes. It’s based on the concept of “Forcing’, net energy transfer to Earth’s surface by solar SW and atmospheric LW radiation. Standard physics assesses both as the difference of ‘Radiation Fields’ from ‘Stefan-Boltzmann’ equations. The IPCC does it differently.
The SW emitter is the Sun, 5,500 deg.K. The SW absorber, mainly the surface, is cooler but it still has a RF so net SW surface heating rate = Sigma(F1.T_sun^4 – F2.T_surface^4). Sigma is the S-B constant, F1 and F2 are parameters dependent on clouds etc.,Ts are temperatures. It comes to +160 W/m^2 (mean) ‘thermalising’. At equilibrium, this heat goes to the atmosphere; 97 W/m^2 convection/evapo-transpiration and 63 W/m^2 net IR emission, of which 40 W/m^2 goes to Space.
In standard physics, net LW IR energy must be the negative of net LW surface heating = Sigma(F3.T_atmosphere^4 – F4.T_surface^4), numerically 333 W/m^2 – 396 W/m^2 = -63 W/m^2. Conservation of energy is proved by: 160 W/m^2 (SW heating) -97 W/m^2 (convection) -63 W/m^2 (LW cooling) = 0 W/m^2. As net surface IR emission in the main GHG bands is zero, there is no atmospheric heating from this cause.
However, ‘Climate Alchemists’ assume 396 W/m^2 surface LW RF, the ‘black body’ level for 16 deg C, is a real IR flux when in reality it’s the potential energy flux to a sink at absolute zero. Only the 63 W/m^2 is real. They make up the difference by assuming 333 W/m^2 LW RF measured by ‘pyrgeometers’ pointing to the atmosphere (‘back radiation’) provides extra surface heat when standard physics shows for a normal temperature gradient, an atmospheric RF can’t transfer any energy to the surface. This failure to understand what their main instrument outputs is a serious scientific mistake.
Adding the 97 W/m^2 convection makes 493 W/m^2, 3x the real heating rate, never proved experimentally. As it’s far too high they offset 238.5 W/m^2 by falsely applying Kirchhoff’s Law of Radiation to the semi-transparent emitter at Top of Atmosphere. The residual c. 60% more heating than reality is, with 3x real GHE, used to purport imaginary ‘positive feedback’. They then use c. 25% extra low level cloud albedo in hindcasting to pretend the extra energy doesn’t heat the atmosphere above reality.
Go deeper into the physics and CO2 ‘Climate Sensitivity’ is near zero. This massive waste of resources is nothing less than science fraud; manipulation of data to purport much more heating than reality. It exaggerates the GHG-absorbed IR component by a factor of 5.1. The scam deceived all but real heat transfer experts of which I am one. The UN has been badly misled.

May 13, 2014 2:10 am

“Nuclear is a far safer and cheaper alternative than it was 50 years ago. ”
Agreed that it i safer, but disagree with implication that it was ever un-safe.
IN 60 years of nuclear power , with over 400 nuclear reactors, we have had two
major nuclear accidents (I reject any reference to Chernobyl as irrelevant to
Western nucear power) Three Mile Island and Fukushima. Fukushima occurred
under extraordinary circumstances that will never be duplicated – total loss of the
grid of an entire region and widespread destruction never before witnessed.
Despite all this, no one was killed in either accident and ony two workers received
very minor injuries in Fukushima. No one, workers or public, received any levels of
radiation higher than that considered safe by international standards. Anyone who
worries about nuclear safety is an ignorant moron, plain and simple. You are far
more justified in worrying about being killed by a meteor.

May 13, 2014 2:16 am


Environmental ethics philosophers using game theory to model climate change talks by policymakers regarding emission reduction.
It cannot get more amateurish than that.

If you were to decide to try, you could add:
Gender theory
Racist oppression
Social Justice
Environmental Justice
Income Inequality/Minimum Wage
Model Theory Theory

Reply to  Charles Rotter
May 13, 2014 2:33 am

charles – this is for you
“Using model theory theory towards the empowering of social and environmental justice for maginalized ethnically and gender-wise minorities via a bargaining game analysis of international climate negotiations in an increasingly inequal world”.

May 13, 2014 2:27 am

WaPo, still clinging on to CAGW, but selling carbon emisission permits is the only “weapon” on offer:
12 May: WaPo Wonk Blog: Why society is failing to stop global warming, in one 90-second video
By Puneet Kollipara
PHOTO CAPTION: …California is set to unveil a new weapon in its fight against global climate change November 14, 2012 when it holds its first sale of carbon emissions permits – a landmark experiment that it hopes will serve as a model for other U.S. states and the federal government. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files
This new video from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences not only shows the recent global carbon-dioxide trend, but it also shows that humans have increased carbon-dioxide levels rapidly, and to their highest levels in at least 800,000 years…
One thing to keep in mind is that 400 ppm is mainly a mathematical and psychological milestone. We probably haven’t hit any major tipping points by hitting 400 ppm. But the milestone still shows how close we are to hitting a more significant target from a policymaking and climatological standpoint…

May 13, 2014 2:31 am

Mooney gets more loony, & the comments i saw keep with the comedy theme:
12 May: Mother Jones: Chris Mooney: This Is What a Holy Shit Moment for Global Warming Looks Like
According to two new studies, the collapse of much of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may now be irreversible. That could ultimately mean 10 feet of sea level rise.
If you truly understand global warming, then you know it’s all about the ice…
In the grand scheme of things, though, the consequence would be a very different planet. And West Antarctica is just the beginning. According to glaciologist and Greenland expert Jason Box, when you compare where we are now to where atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and ocean levels stood in past warm periods of Earth’s history, you can infer that human beings have already set in motion 69 feet of sea level rise.

May 13, 2014 2:38 am

Gore out & about shilling for the likes of renewables giants, Siemens & General Electric!
VIDEO: 13 May: Chicago Sun-Times: Mitch Dudek: GOP resistance on global warming makes Gore hot under collar
Former Vice President Al Gore preached global warming at the University of Chicago Monday.
Gore, who said 99.99 percent of climate scientists acknowledge the planet’s climate is changing, compared the situation to a heart problem…
The truth, Gore said, is obstructed by politicians, money and special interest groups…
Gore said the battle is not lost, yet.
“I want to recruit you. I want to ask you to get involved,” Gore told the crowd of about 200 students, faculty and others at the event, which was sponsored by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.
“Our politics must come to the rescue and must empower us to make intelligent forceful decisions to protect the public interest, and we are not yet doing it … now is the time to act,” said Gore, who proclaimed “a revolution is coming” in the form of alternative energy…
After Gore finished his prepared remarks, he sat for a discussion with David Axelrod, director of the Institute of Politics.

May 13, 2014 2:43 am

Perhaps those countries not willing to sell themselves down the tubes are the ones who understand that the GHE theory is not valid in any respect. Climate is driven by the sun not some trace gas.

May 13, 2014 2:50 am

***Gerson’s “intuitions” run amok, even tho he says they are “useless”:
13 May: WaPo: Michael Gerson: Michael Gerson: Americans’ aversion to science carries a high price
(Gerson writes about politics, religion, foreign policy and global health and development in a twice-a-week column and on the PostPartisan blog.)
Merely raising climate disruption in this context will cause many to bristle. Skeptics employ this issue as a prime example of motivated reasoning — politicians motivated by the prospect of confiscation, scientists motivated by securing acclaim and government contracts.
In its simplest, cable-television version, this charge, at least against scientists, is outrageous. The assumption that the vast majority in a scientific field is engaged in fraud or corruption is frankly conspiratorial. In this case, the conspiracy would need to encompass the national academies of more than two dozen countries, including the United States…
But none of these objections relates to the scientific question: Is a 40 percent increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide since the Industrial Revolution driving disruptive warming? And further: Can this process be slowed, allowing societies and ecosystems more time to adapt?
Our ***intuitions are useless here. The only possible answers come from science. And for non-scientists, this requires a modicum of trust in the scientific enterprise. Even adjusting for the possibility of untoward advocacy, it seems clear that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have produced a modest amount of warming and are likely to produce more. This, in turn, is likely to produce higher sea levels, coastal flooding, shifting fisheries, ocean acidification, water shortages, lower crop yields and vanishing ecosystems. The consequences will vary by region but are likely to be more severe in poorer nations…

Bloke down the pub
May 13, 2014 2:53 am

” if the per­ceived indi­vidual threat of not reaching an agree­ment was high.”
There is the root of the problem for them. Despite all the claims made of impending doom by those who are looking to make a financial gain, the individuals involved do not really believe that there is a real threat and so are not prepared to make sacrifices in order to reach agreement.

Eyal Porat
May 13, 2014 3:08 am

omnologos says:
May 13, 2014 at 12:22 am
Environmental ethics philosophers using game theory to model climate change talks by policymakers regarding emission reduction.
It cannot get more amateurish than that.

Oh, how so true.
I wonder what woukd have happened if those folks ever took two steps back and looked at this scene from the side.
But it will never happen, they are too caught up with their self importance and sense of “We Save the World” meme.

May 13, 2014 3:11 am

This is the sort of intellectual contortion that astronomers has to perform in order to explain the behavior of the planets in an earth-centered universe.

Berényi Péter
May 13, 2014 3:38 am

Congratulations. They’ve reinvented power politics. How is it different from the Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which was supposed to prevent France and Britain go to war on behalf of Poland, but failed miserably in this respect. At least so far as the German Reich is concerned.
As for the Soviet Union, which took the greater part of pre-war Poland after signing a ceasefire agreement with Japan (which left it free to attack US possessions), it was a complete success. It could keep most of this conquest thereafter, even up to the present day via its successors.
However, it shows the weak point of such bilateral treaties. All those left out are free to choose sides later on, and can make the party of their choice an indisputable winner over the other one.
Therefore the one perceived as weaker at the moment by the rest of the world has an advantage, which makes the more powerful party reluctant to go ahead. Except, of course, “if the per­ceived indi­vidual threat of not reaching an agree­ment was high” enough.
It is all about perceptions, you see, not facts. Those only come later, when the bill is due.

May 13, 2014 3:41 am

Anthony, I think you may have missed the point. Success is not a criteria for continuing to have lavish vacations in exotic locations at the expense of people who can’t afford such vacations themselves.

May 13, 2014 3:48 am

The International Pretense Climate Circus has had over 20 years to accomplish:
1) Convince people that the climate is dangerous
2) That it is dangerous because of CO2
3) To curtail the use of fossil fuels as a way to make the climate less dangerous
The IPCC has failed at each and every one of those tasks.
1) The climate is no more dangerous now that it was 20, 50, or 100 years ago.
2) People around the world do not find that climate is a crisis
3) We are using more fossil fuel than ever
It is long past time to run this circus out of town.
If there was any actual purpose to the IPCC they would have done the achievable. Instead they waste billions upon billions to fail to achieve the impossible.
Controlling and reducing carbon black is achievable. Carbon black is a health issue and is linked strongly to melting ice by ways that are not model based. The Climate Circus could have led the way to developing international standards and actual solutions to achieve a reduction in carbon black. But that would possibly reduce the CO2 obsession of the Circus.
Now at the end of the circus, whole nations are rejecting the failed agenda of the IPCC. But rent seeking enablers in academia are going to come up with new games to try and make the IPCC relevant.
I think they will fail.

William Astley
May 13, 2014 4:02 am

In reply to:
“Most climate negotiation modeling studies have used social dilemma games such as the prisoner’s dilemma, in which the best interests of the individual agent are not the same as those of the whole. But, as Smead said, “All countries in a sense want to solve this problem—what they disagree on is how to go about solving it.”
What ‘game’ are the climate negotiators playing? The ‘climate negotiators’ are trying to commit countries to destroy their economies, to spend money on schemes that do not work (to work would mean the green scams would significantly reduce CO2 emissions, ignoring the fact that there is no climate warming problem ).
The politicians have run out of GDP to spend. To force the transfer of GDP to be spent on green scams will require massive cuts in education, health care, roads, and so on. The dirty secret is the climate solution will require massive cuts in the standard of life and massive loss of jobs, with no benefit.
The climate negotiated solution requires sending billions of dollars every year (which are not available) to be spent by corrupt and inept developing countries with absurd waste from a world climate monitoring agency (to be set up) and a world global carbon trading scam. The countries will cheat, the fairy tale schemes will never work, if work means stop the CO2 emissions from rising.
‘Investing’ (indirectly and directly forcing GDP to be spent) on green scams that do not work will not significantly CO2 emission. There are billions of years of fuel available for fourth generation nuclear fission. Nuclear energy works as it provides power 24/7 (Green scam energy does not) which is a necessary requirement (see riots in countries such as Pakistan and South Africa due to interruption in electrical power). The problem is nuclear has risks and is significantly more expensive than coal fired power plants and is significantly more expensive than natural gas if there is a local source of natural gas.

May 13, 2014 4:52 am

You’ve got to be kidding. People actually tried this? They actually write stuff like this down and peddle it as meaningful stuff? Oh man, that’s just painful.

May 13, 2014 5:15 am

A radical concept, but perhaps the UN should concentrate on mediating disputes between nations. And leave the climate to mother nature.
Naahh! That is too simple and the UN never does simple.

May 13, 2014 5:32 am

It is clear that the real problem of climate talks is that most of the negotiators know that the premise of the discussion is not what it is purported to be. Since they are only going to negotiate fully in matters which do impact their own country and its well being, they balk early and often. If these people all honestly believed their country’s interests were in real danger, many agreements would already be in place.

May 13, 2014 6:08 am

This is all theater to obfuscate the true purpose of the UN IPCC charade:
ie: UN World Governance Government via Lies & Deception.
backup: http://web.archive.org/web/20140513130548/http://green-agenda.com/

May 13, 2014 6:17 am

‘Over two decades of failure in climate talks’ has lead to game over, just look as theses glaciers!
‘Nothing can stop retreat’ of West Antarctic glaciers
Key glaciers in West Antarctica are in an irreversible retreat, a study team led by the US space agency (Nasa) says.
It analysed 40 years of observations of six big ice streams draining into the Amundsen Bay and concluded that NOTHING now can stop them melting away.
Although these are abrupt changes, the timescales involved are likely measured in centuries, the researchers add.
If the glaciers really do disappear, they would add roughly 1.2m to global sea level rise.
The new study has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, but Nasa held a teleconference on Monday to brief reporters on the findings.

May 13, 2014 6:23 am

‘Game the­o­ret­ical mod­eling of the nego­ti­a­tions’ is based on a false premise – that the coun­tries par­tic­i­pating in the nego­ti­a­tions could agree on the endgame proposed.
Prof. Sandler’s ‘solutions’ are simply not acceptable to all parties, so agreement can never be reached. He seems to *assume* that he is correct, and that everyone will eventually be persuaded to accept that. This is because his mindset is seemingly based on rhetoric – the art of persuasion, rather than on logic, the science of reaching correct conclusions.
Prof. Smead, meanwhile, is seeking a negotiation pathway to the dreamed-of objective of universal acceptance of the proposition of anthropogenic global climate change (or whatever they are calling it these days), and the ‘solutions’ imagined to provide remedies to the only important problem (disregarding the problems that would be occasioned by the proposed solutions).
A more universal viewpoint in game theory would consider the positions, objectives, and strategies of ALL other players.
There are considerations on the table that are non-negotiable. Poor countries are not going to hobble their own economies or stress their own populations in the name of a ‘threat’ for which they can see no evidence. They know that their people are already stressed, but they don’t know how much more stress could push the population past the tipping point into open revolt.
Productive people in affluent countries are not going to willingly and happily sacrifice all they have worked for to return to a pre-industrial lifestyle.
The only people who could support the exorbitantly priced ‘solutions’ proposed are those who expend the resources of others and who don’t think it will hit them in their own purses. This faction is not enough to determine the outcome of the negotiations.
Game theory tells us that sometimes the only way to win is to not play the game.

May 13, 2014 6:28 am

“You are far more justified in worrying about being killed by a meteor.”
–Or, a bit more likely, by a meteorite.

Gary in Erko
May 13, 2014 6:45 am

Instead of the paper/scissors/rock game theory, try the you_cut_the-cake_so_I_pick_first_slice game. Do I get a grant for that?

May 13, 2014 6:54 am

Regarding the Gerson column…”The assumption that the vast majority in a scientific field is engaged in fraud or corruption is frankly conspiratorial. In this case, the conspiracy would need to encompass the national academies of more than two dozen countries, including the United States…”
Not that hard to believe. The U.S. pharmaceutical craze is pretty much at this level. In 1966, a Dr. Wilson published “Feminine Forever,” and kicked off the menopause-hormone craze.
The “cover” was that any woman who was perimenopausal could be prescribed this drug in order to reduce menopausal symptoms, or avoid aging into them. The allure was genuine: they aesthetically enhanced complexion, hair, and, um, lubrication. Women were happy, the docs made money and were happy, and the drug company was happy.
By 1977, conjugated estrogens were being prescribed to 28 million women per year. If you slice and dice the overall population, this means that this soon-to-be-discovered-as-dangerous drug was being prescribed to nearly every woman who could possibly be a candidate, and had means to pay (health insurance coverage). Each and every one.
That success was achieved by the drug company marketing to patients and the medical establishment.
Then, in 1975-1977, it became apparent that estrogen replacement therapy caused endometrial cancer.
Not to be discouraged, the drug companies figured out that adding progesterin to the estrogen solved that problem. Hence “ERT” declined but was replaced by “HRT.”
The medical establishment had been alerted to the apparent superior cardiac health outcomes of women taking HRT versus not – and came just shy of endorsing HRT leadingly for its cardioprotective effect.
The drug company would need clinical trial data to get FDA approval to market specifically for cardioprotection, so the medical establishment got together with the drug company and developed, beginning in 1991, the Women’s Health Initiative study. In 2002, it became apparent that HRT led to breast cancer, and also to heart disease, and so the trial was halted early.
This time, science worked. It halted a confederacy of profit-seeking dunces that had all been working together since the 1960s. And causing untold numbers of endometrial and breast cancer cases along the way.
NPR has something of a good story on this: google NPR and “the marketing of menopause.”
This is just one example.
We in the U.S. have found certain birth control drugs or devices to be unacceptable here, but have allowed them to be distributed in other countries.
We have exported “population control” to many countries, including tying population goals to foreign aid and loans, then have been surprised when the result has been forced sterilization and sex-selection abortion. Then, we act like the preference to abort females was some indigenous bit of culture, rather than our, Western, influence when pressuring population control goals.
Connelly covers some of this very well in “Fatal Misconception.”
There are plenty of genuine international conspiracies that are well documented.

Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
May 13, 2014 7:16 am

We need distinguish between out-and-out conspiracies (of which there are few or none) and fashionable endeavors where people of all sorts meet knowing they think the same way. The latter is not a ‘conspiracy’ any more than wearing bell-bottoms in the 1970s was.

May 13, 2014 6:55 am

“And for non-scientists, this requires a modicum of trust in the scientific enterprise”
Bit late to worry about that now. I can’t think of anything in the last century that’s harmed the ‘non-scientist’ view of science more than AGW alarmism. The repercussions will be felt for decades to come.

May 13, 2014 7:15 am

TheLastDemocrat says:
May 13, 2014 at 6:28 am
“You are far more justified in worrying about being killed by a meteor.”
–Or, a bit more likely, by a meteorite.

Hmm . . . Is it a meteor until it hits the ground? If not, is it a meteor after it has struck someone (in the open air) and before it hits the ground?

David in Cal
May 13, 2014 7:28 am

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
The only hammer these people have to offer is expertise in game theory. Unfortunately, they had to make a lot of invalid assumptions in order to make climate change look like their particular “nail”.
On the positive side (for them), they may have gotten their game theory research funded from the large pool of money devoted to climate change. And, their paper has gotten more publicity than if they were applying their theory to some other problem, such as over-fishing.

May 13, 2014 7:30 am

While each agent would like to keep his own reduc­tions as low as pos­sible, he would prefer to increase his pro­posal if it means the group would be more likely to reach a con­sensus.
this is a flawed assumption. the third world is seeking compensation, not reduction.
all that is required for agreement is for the developed countries to pay compensation before agreement to reduce emissions. the developed countries are insisting on agreement to reduce emissions before agreement to pay compensation.
the question of payment before or after reduction is the true stumbling block. the less developed countries believe that if they agree first, they will never see the money. the developed countries believe if they pay first they will never see reductions.

Theo Goodwin
May 13, 2014 7:32 am

Bloke down the pub says:
May 13, 2014 at 2:53 am
Right on the money.
The word ‘negotiation’ belongs to specific contexts. For example, the United Auto Workers Union and motor companies negotiate contracts. In such genuine negotiations, all the possible outcomes are known, though practical research can be required to nail down the specifics. By contrast, in the so-called negotiations described in the article, no outcomes are known and no amount of practical research can nail down the specifics in a reasonable amount of time.
Did I cover everything that the authors overlooked?

May 13, 2014 7:33 am

The IPCC climate scam is a little bit different; most researchers ‘believe’ because they were (1) indoctrinated in it from childhood and (2) are not that bright otherwise they would be working in real science. After all, when you are developing fake science, you don’t want bright people!
The Life Sciences, on the other hand, recruit the brightest then put enough in management to become tainted and mislead the rest, a bit like the SS which gradually corrupted recruits to accept atrocities never sanctioned by the comparatively-honourable Regular Forces.
So, the climate scam is all about creating lots of dumb papers financed by Obama’s $billions and allowed preferential access to journals by Pal Review. This is the classical ‘Cargo-cult Science’ forecast by Feynman. The underlying claim of ‘black body’ real net surface IR emission is actually the modern analogue of the 18th Century Phlogiston Hypothesis, promoted for religious reasons by Priestley, otherwise a good scientist. The modern equivalent of Priestley is Houghton.

May 13, 2014 7:37 am

West Antarctic glaciers doomed – we may have to wait 1000 years ( how’s that for high-performance predicting?)

Meanwhile, in the pesky present, Antarctica ice extent has set a new record;

177 comments at Jo Nova’s;

R. de Haan
May 13, 2014 9:30 am

Agenda 21 propaganda.
The only effective way to have positive results from a climate talks is to stop talking and forget about the subject.
There is no problem. Period.

R. de Haan
May 13, 2014 9:32 am

Besides that, since we have a record Antarctic ice sheet I am no longer a denier but a realist so shut up, the talks are over.
Don’t you love it.

May 13, 2014 10:25 am

village idiot,
“Bottom line: Humans (generally) are far too selfish to either recognize the problem, or if they do, to do anything about it. Only thing to do is fasten your seatbelt…”
and wait for the increase in population to 9 billion by 2050- UN , coz this climate change doubles the population whereas in the past it wiped out civilizations.

May 13, 2014 10:43 am

What problem?

May 13, 2014 11:24 am

Perhaps the fact that the UN Agenda 21 folks (On the UN offcial web site, so this is not some unverified claim) stated they alone want $200,000,000,000.00 ($200 Billion) per year in climate reparations taxes and that there is simply no money left might have something to do with it.
The simple fact is that the USA central government ALONE is kiting checks for $1 TRILLION per year above and beyond the tax take. Add in the unfunded mandates, the unfunded retirement gilded lillies, the unfunded future aportionments, the unfunded…
THEN add in the State’s holes in the ground. California alone being on the order of $40 Billion.
THEN add in the EU and all those member states holes in the ground / piggy bank (Cyprus anyone? Greece? Spain?…)
Just from where do they think any actual productive capacity to make money will come to fund these fantasies of avarice?
Simply not going to happen.
At most, they can redistribute money from productive use to wastage, and reduce their future tax take by the amount of the damage.
Since everyone was expecting to take USA $Dollars and go on a spending spree, and we have to borrow them from China, and China is getting tired of that game; it’s just a large Circle Graft… Each hand reaching into the empty pocket in front of it… and discoverying only a little shrinking dinky to grab onto…

May 13, 2014 11:35 am

I have only studied game theory a little, but negotiations toward mutual self-sacrifice to save a shared resource seems like a classic “tragedy of the commons” scenario. Without a global governing body with the ability to enforce real punishment, game theory would predict that countries ‘pretend’ to commit to self-sacrifice and then cheat and not actually do any self-sacrifice themselves i.e. exactly what happened with Kyoto.

Ranger Joe
May 13, 2014 12:14 pm

Game Theory is the brainchild of Princeton’s John Nash of ‘A Beautiful Mind’ fame. George Soros uses Game Theory in his investment strategy. It’s a sophisticated mathematical version of Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’ on how to influence human history by being an annoying jackwagon.

May 13, 2014 12:16 pm

Meh…. I want my five minutes back.

Mac the Knife
May 13, 2014 12:22 pm

All we’ve had is ‘game’ theory for the last 2 decades. The time to give up the ‘game’ was 2 decades ago……
There is no mutual self sacrifice here. It is a ‘scare ’em with hog goblins’ political agenda hiding behind cataclysmic pseudo science.

Billy Liar
May 13, 2014 12:27 pm

Jimmy Haigh. says:
May 13, 2014 at 1:28 am
I think they should hold the conferences in exotic tropical locations like, for example, Tahiti. …
There are probably not enough whores and limos in Tahiti to host a UN conference; remember the trouble they had in Copenhagen?

Billy Liar
May 13, 2014 12:37 pm

blackadderthe4th says:
May 13, 2014 at 6:17 am
Nothing can stop retreat’ of West Antarctic glaciers
The Ross Ice Shelf has been collapsing ever since it was discovered. It receded 30 miles in first 30 years after its discovery
The problem with catastrophes that take multiple centuries is that they progress at a rate that during a human lifetime no-one would notice the difference. They can literally be ignored.

Bob Koss
May 13, 2014 12:40 pm

Game theory relies on all participants adhering to the rules of the game. For anyone gullible enough to believe that is gonna happen, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

Janice Moore
May 13, 2014 1:11 pm

“’So, if these solu­tions are there, the ques­tion is why nego­ti­a­tions have not yet reached them – why don’t we have an agree­ment,’” said Ron San­dler, … .”
The answer is easy (to echo Sparks and several others):
… except how to stop propaganda like this from being pumped out…
and REALITY is solving that nicely: CO2 UP. WARMING STOPPED.
Hunter (3:48am) says: “I think they will fail.”
They have failed.
That’s why the Enviroprofiteers SOUND SO RIDICULOUS — they have NOTHING meaningful to say.
LOL — all they have is computer simulations of computer simulations!
(to echo Ben D. at 2:02am)
Game SO over!
Bwah, ha, ha, ha, haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Re: Bob Ryan’s (12:58am) flawed petroleum supply economics analysis based on mistaken assumptions about:
1. how free markets work;
2. human ingenuity over the ages;
3. basic macroeconomics; and
4. scarcity of resources generally and about world petroleum facts …
1) Demand driving up Price is not inherently a problem. Price, while higher at higher Demand levels, given a fairly free market, stabilizes. For, as Demand increases, so too does the Supply (more producers enter market and or current producers up their supply).
2) If Supply is exceeded by Demand, Price goes high enough to exclude most of the buyers. That is, price simply allocates the product to those willing to pay the most for it. This is not a bad thing. Resource allocation simply is. A new market then opens up for a substitute Supply to meet the Demand formerly met by the older product.
3) Supply almost never suddenly disappears. Supply decreases gradually. That is why capitalism is so great! Capitalists closely watch these things and start planning way ahead of time. As Demand gradually grows closer to exceeding Supply, Price also gradually increases, informing the market. The market responds (as well as anticipating far in advance AND ALSO simply because entrepreneurs are always seeking more market share by creating new market niches and or by lowering costs of production of old products) by funding innovation and new technology.

technology has increasingly upended traditional discussions of impending oil scarcity and created a world where the costs of developing unconventional oil, the costs of converting one form of hydrocarbon to another, … will temper oil demand and prices.

“The Status of World Oil Reserves: Conventional and Unconventional Resources in the Future Supply Mix,” Amy Myers Jaffe, et. al., p. 8 (October, 2011, emphasis mine)

For example, the midpoint in our estimate range, 800 billion barrels, is more than triple the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Present U. S. demand for petroleum products is about 20 million barrels a day. If oil shale could be used to meet a quarter of that demand, 800 billion barrels of recoverable resources would last for more than 400 years.

Ibid. at 10.
(Read it here: http://amymyersjaffe.com/content/pdf/EF-pub-WorldOilReserves-101911.pdf)
(Also see, for an example of technology directly relevant to petroleum supply, anything by synthetic chemist James Tour on nanotechnology.)
Question for thought:
What kind of cars were most of us in the developed world driving 100 years ago?
Answer: None. Most of us were using literal horse power or walking. As the population of cities increased, politicians (and electric train profiteers) blathered on about, “Manure! It’s a crisis! How are we going to deal with it? No more horses — IMMEDIATELY.”
Well, Henry Ford (and several other inventors HURRAH FOR OUR ENGINEERS!! (love you guys)) prevented the manure crisis-that-never-came-to-be.
And if we ever do run out of petroleum… by then, likely another 100 years from now…. what do you think everyone will be driving?
Answer: Yet to be dreamed up (or, at least, put into production)! But it will be — you can count on it!
Technology will solve the petroleum supply “problem.” Price, undistorted by government influence, will drive technology funding. LET PRICE DO ITS JOB! Let Price just be. No need for all those government regulations and programs.

Janice Moore
May 13, 2014 1:14 pm

This is FOR BOB RYAN (off topic, but, for him it would be very encouraging — if he can look up from his worry-board for a couple of minutes….):
Dedicated to all you wonderful engineers!
“Hold on Tight to Your Dreams” — ELO

May 14, 2014 8:06 pm

To land of flimflam:theres a massive deposit of algae mined by the big builders.way back before our history.they extracted a billionth of it . nutrition is a mental and physical stimulant.nowadays we just arm broups of bullies and rob resources. Algae eats co2 and helps whales.

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