IHS Seminar: Christian Kimmich

Telescoping transformative change with foresight-oriented climate governance indicators

Addressing the climate crisis requires more than incremental change. Transformative change, however, requires coordinated actions from the societal, economic, and political domain. These domains are interdependent and within and across each domain there may be high uncertainty about prospective actions and behavior. Societal, economic, and political actors have to cooperate and coordinate to reach their aim. However, cooperative behavior in climate governance is difficult to predict. Experimental evidence demonstrates that cooperation is also hampered by physical uncertainty (ambiguity) concerning resource availability. Social uncertainty becomes exacerbated. This perceived social uncertainty about each other’s actions—including economic, technological, and political uncertainty—may be one major reason for insufficient action against climate change.
In this presentation, we show how to potentially reduce social uncertainty by developing, eliciting and communicating a foresight-oriented Climate Governance Expectations Index (CGEI). Our CGEI collects people’s probabilistic beliefs of reaching mid-and long-term climate targets, including carbon pricing, budget targets, but also climate damages. The CGEI communicates aggregated expectations as confidence levels. This way, it can serve as a continuous barometer between pessimistic and optimistic outlooks, rationalizing expectations, and catering to people’s need to reduce social uncertainty, or, more precisely, the ambiguity of unknown probabilities of societal cooperation. Once ambiguity is reduced, the CGEI becomes a risk measure and its communication raises awareness for the discrepancy between one’s risk preferences and the actual risks of climate damages. When the risks become clear, people start to act to reduce climate risks to their risk preferences. Transformative change is catalyzed.

The IHS seminar will take place online as an MS-Teams event. Interested parties can register by mail to event(at)ihs.ac.at and will receive a link to participate.

Christian Kimmich is researcher at the group "Regional Science and Environmental Research". He is an environmental economist working on the low-carbon transformation, renewable energies, related infrastructures, and natural resource governance.

Kerstin Grosch is acting head of the research group "Behavioral Economics (Insight Austria)". She is a behavioural economist and specialised in laboratory and field experiments.

Michael Miess is researcher at the group "Macroeconomics and Economic Policy" and the Environment Agency Austria. He is an ecological macroeconomist and economic modeller analysing the social ecological transformation to a zero-emission economy.

Anna Walter is researcher at the group "Behavioural Economics (Insight Austria)". She is a behavioural economist passionate about inspiring sustainable behaviours by generating scientific insights and translating them into real-world solutions.