A fair share: Burden-sharing preferences in the United States and China

Peer Reviewed
1 January 2013

Using a sequential discrete choice experiment, we investigate preferences for distributing the economic burden of reducing CO2 emissions in the two largest CO2-emitting countries: the United States and China.

We asked respondents about their preferences for four burden-sharing rules to reduce CO2 emissions according to their country's relative (1) historical emissions, (2) income level, (3) emissions per capita, and (4) current emissions. We found that respondents overall favored the rule that was least costly for their country. In addition, the willingness to pay was much higher in China, suggesting that how mitigation costs are shared across countries is more important for Chinese than for Americans. To some extent the willingness to pay varies with socioeconomic characteristics and attitudes. For example, university-educated respondents in the United States are willing to pay more for the rule that is the least costly for their own country, compared with those with a lower education level. At the same time, the ranking of the two most preferred rules are generally robust across all socioeconomic groups within each country.

Sustainable Development Goals

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Publication | 13 January 2013