YES! - Thema 2020

Public institutions and air-travel – How can the coordination problem be overcome?

Da Dr. Chatzivasileiadis nur Englisch spricht, wird dieses Thema nicht auf Deutsch angeboten. Der Kick-Off und das Fachgespräch werden dann auch auf Englisch durchgeführt.

Travelling is very important to many of us. We travel in order to meet people, see different places, for work, or holidays. However, travelling by plane is the most carbon-intensive way of travelling. If global aviation were a country, it would rank among the top ten emitters worldwide – and emissions would continue to grow rapidly. Importantly, carbon emissions alone largely underestimate the total climate impact of flying as planes emit various other particles with global warming potential.

Despite its large environmental impact, there is no effective regulation in place yet. Aviation is not only exempt from the Paris Agreement but also a range of taxes, most prominently the kerosene tax and VAT on international tickets. In the EU, the European Emission Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) covers, only, the carbon effects of intra-EEA flights. However, the price of allowances has been well below the estimated damages.

A key feature of the problem is that there is little incentive for individuals to change travel behaviour as long as others do not follow. To overcome this problem, societal actors like universities, cities or other public institutions should take the lead. For most institutions, air-travel likely constitutes the largest share of its carbon footprint. Coordinated action amongst a coalition of institutions may help. Not only do their mitigation actions add up, but also they may even multiply: When leaders start to act tangibly, that may convince further actors and individuals to join (so-called conditional cooperation). Their leadership may also shape new social norms. Moreover, societal actors may influence public acceptance of (inter-)national climate policy, which may help politicians to implement more effective policies, knowing that voters will support them.

The overarching question for these groups is how societal actors should act when facing insufficient regulation in the context of aviation. The task for this group is twofold:
1) discuss how societal actors can contribute to establishing low-carbon mobility and
2) develop a set of measures that a coalition of societal actors can adopt a strategy to spread them.
The measures should be legally feasible, effective in carbon reduction, attractive for the institutions, and easy to join.

Dannenberg, Astrid, and Carlo Gallier. “The choice of institutions to solve cooperation problems: A survey of experimental research.” ZEW-Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper 19-021 (2019).

Gächter, Simon, and Elke Renner. “Leaders as role models for the voluntary provision of public goods.” (2014).

Dannenberg, Astrid. “Leading by example versus leading by words in voluntary contribution experiments.” Social Choice and Welfare 44.1 (2015): 71-85.

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Betreuer der YES!-Teams und Autoren des Themenvorschlags:

Theodoros Chatzivasileiadis

Foto: (c) Anna Logue Photography

Theodoros Chatzivasileiadis forscht als Postdoc im Forschungsbereich „Umwelt- und Ressourcenökonomik, Umweltmanagement“ des ZEW – Leibniz-Zentrums für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung. Sein Schwerpunkt liegt auf Naturkatastrophen und Korruption vor dem Hintergrund des Klimawandels.

YES!-Themen von Theodoros Chatzivasileiadis