Using a choice experiment, we investigated preferences for distributing the economic burden of decreasing 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 1) historical emissions, 2) income level, 3) equal right to emit per person, and 4) current emissions.
We found that U.S. respondents preferred the rule based on current emissions, while the equal right to emit rule was clearly least preferred. The Chinese respondents, on the other hand, preferred the historical rule, while the current emissions rule was the least preferred. Respondents overall favored the rule that was least costly for their country. These marked differences may explain the difficulties countries face in agreeing how to share costs, presenting a tough hurdle to overcome in future negotiations. We also found that the strength of the preferences was much stronger in China, suggesting that how mitigation costs are shared across countries is more important there.
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