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The efficiency of voluntary pollution abatement when countries can commit


  • Boadway, Robin
  • Song, Zhen
  • Tremblay, Jean-François


We characterize a mechanism for reducing pollution emissions in which countries, acting non-cooperatively, commit to matching each others' abatement levels and may subsequently engage in emissions quota trading. The mechanism leads to an efficient level of emissions, and if the matching abatements process includes a quota trading stage, the marginal benefits of emissions are also equalized across countries. Given equilibrium matching rates, the initial allocation of emission quotas (before trading) reflects each country's marginal valuation for lower pollution relative to its marginal benefit from emissions. These results hold for any number of countries, in an environment where countries have different abatement technologies and different benefits from emissions, and even if the emissions of countries are imperfect substitutes in each country's damage function. In a two-period setting, the mechanism achieves both intra- and inter-temporal efficiency.

Suggested Citation

  • Boadway, Robin & Song, Zhen & Tremblay, Jean-François, 2011. "The efficiency of voluntary pollution abatement when countries can commit," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 352-368, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:27:y:2011:i:2:p:352-368

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin Altemeyer-Bartscher & Dirk T. G. Rübbelke & Eytan Sheshinski, 2010. "Environmental Protection and the Private Provision of International Public Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(308), pages 775-784, October.
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    3. Yukihiro Nishimura, 2008. "A Lindahl Solution to International Emissions Trading," Working Papers 1177, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    4. Shilony, Yuval, 2000. "Diversity and ingenuity in voluntary collective action," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 429-443, September.
    5. Gerber, Anke & Wichardt, Philipp C., 2009. "Providing public goods in the absence of strong institutions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 429-439, April.
    6. Hans Gersbach & Ralph Winkler, 2007. "On the Design of Global Refunding and Climate Change," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 07/69, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich, revised Jul 2007.
    7. Boadway, Robin & Song, Zhen & Tremblay, Jean-Francois, 2007. "Commitment and matching contributions to public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(9), pages 1664-1683, September.
    8. Danziger, Leif & Schnytzer, Adi, 1991. "Implementing the Lindahl voluntary-exchange mechanism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 55-64, April.
    9. Varian, Hal R., 1994. "Sequential contributions to public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 165-186, February.
    10. Roberts, Marc J. & Spence, Michael, 1976. "Effluent charges and licenses under uncertainty," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 193-208.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hans-Peter Weikard & Leo Wangler & Andreas Freytag, 2015. "Minimum Participation Rules with Heterogeneous Countries," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 62(4), pages 711-727, December.
    2. Wolfgang Buchholz & Richard Cornes & Dirk Rübbelke, 2014. "Potentially Harmful International Cooperation on Global Public Good Provision," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 81(322), pages 205-223, April.
    3. Andreas Löschel & Dirk Rübbelke, 2014. "On the Voluntary Provision of International Public Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 81(322), pages 195-204, April.
    4. Wood, Peter John, 2010. "Climate Change and Game Theory: a Mathematical Survey," Working Papers 249379, Australian National University, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy.
    5. Boadway, Robin & Song, Zhen & Tremblay, Jean-François, 2013. "Non-cooperative pollution control in an inter-jurisdictional setting," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(5), pages 783-796.
    6. Guttman, Joel M., 2013. "On the evolution of conditional cooperation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 15-34.
    7. repec:spr:grdene:v:23:y:2014:i:3:d:10.1007_s10726-013-9354-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Buchholz, Wolfgang & Cornes, Richard & Rübbelke, Dirk, 2011. "Interior matching equilibria in a public good economy: An aggregative game approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 639-645, August.
    9. Olivier Bos & Béatrice Roussillon & Paul Schweinzer, 2016. "Agreeing on Efficient Emissions Reduction," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 118(4), pages 785-815, October.
    10. Weifeng Liu, 2014. "Pareto Improvements under Matching Mechanisms in a Public Good Economy," CAMA Working Papers 2014-63, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    11. Cuicui Chen & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 2016. "Collective Action in an Asymmetric World," NBER Working Papers 22240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Martin Altemeyer-Bartscher & Anil Markandya & Dirk T.G. Rübbelke, 2011. "The Private Provision of International Impure Public Goods: the Case of Climate Policy," Working Papers 2011-09, BC3.

    More about this item


    Voluntary pollution abatement Matching commitments Emissions quota trading;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods


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