Predicting Paris: Multi-Method Approaches to Forecast the Outcomes of Global Climate Negotiations

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Predicting Paris: Multi-Method Approaches to Forecast the Outcomes of Global Climate Negotiations


  • Detlef F. Sprinz PIK–Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany, and Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences, University of Potsdam, Germany
  • Bruce Bueno de Mesquita Department of Politics, New York University, USA
  • Steffen Kallbekken CICERO–Center for International Climate and Environmental Research—Oslo, Norway
  • Frans Stokman Department of Sociology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
  • Håkon Sælen CICERO–Center for International Climate and Environmental Research—Oslo, Norway, and Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Robert Thomson School of Government and Public Policy, University of Strathclyde, UK


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Abstract:  We examine the negotiations held under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change in Paris, December 2015. Prior to these negotiations, there was considerable uncertainty about whether an agreement would be reached, particularly given that the world’s leaders failed to do so in the 2009 negotiations held in Copenhagen. Amid this uncertainty, we applied three different methods to predict the outcomes: an expert survey and two negotiation simulation models, namely the Exchange Model and the Predictioneer’s Game. After the event, these predictions were assessed against the coded texts that were agreed in Paris. The evidence suggests that combining experts’ predictions to reach a collective expert prediction makes for significantly more accurate predictions than individual experts’ predictions. The differences in the performance between the two different negotiation simulation models were not statistically significant.

Keywords:  climate policy; climate regime; expert survey; forecasting; global negotiations; Paris agreement; prediction; simulation

Published:   8 September 2016


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v4i3.654


© Detlef F. Sprinz, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Steffen Kallbekken, Frans Stokman, Håkon Sælen, Robert Thomson. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.