IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The role of uncertainty and learning for the success of international climate agreements

  • Finus, Michael
  • Pintassilgo, Pedro

Transnational externalities (e.g. transboundary pollution, trade, contagious diseases and terrorism) warrant coordination and cooperation between governments, but this proves often difficult. One reason for the meager success is the public good character of many of these economic problems, encouraging free-riding. Another reason one might suspect is uncertainty, surrounding most environmental problems, and in particular climate change. This provides often an excuse for remaining inactive. Paradoxically, some recent papers have concluded just the opposite: the “veil of uncertainty” can be conducive to the success of international environmental cooperation. In this paper, we explain why and under which conditions this can be true. However, we argue that those conditions are the exception rather than the rule. Most important, we suggest a mechanism for those conditions where learning has a negative effect on the success of cooperation which removes this effect or even turns it into a positive effect. Our results apply beyond the specifics of climate change to similar problems where cooperation generates positive externalities.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272713000777
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 29-43

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:103:y:2013:i:c:p:29-43
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Gollier, Christian & Treich, Nicolas, 2003. " Decision-Making under Scientific Uncertainty: The Economics of the Precautionary Principle," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 77-103, August.
  2. Hans-Peter Weikard & Michael Finus & Juan-Carlos Altamirano-Cabrera, 2006. "The impact of surplus sharing on the stability of international climate agreements," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 209-232, April.
  3. Fudenberg, Drew & Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Folk Theorem in Repeated Games with Discounting or with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 533-54, May.
  4. Vives, Xavier, 1984. "Duopoly information equilibrium: Cournot and bertrand," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 71-94, October.
  5. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521542548 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Ghosh, Atish R & Masson, Paul R, 1991. "Model Uncertainty, Learning, and the Gains from Coordination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 465-79, June.
  7. Effrosyni Diamantoudi & Eftichios S. Sartzetakis, 2006. "Stable International Environmental Agreements: An Analytical Approach," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 8(2), pages 247-263, 05.
  8. Carraro, Carlo & Siniscalco, Domenico, 1993. "Strategies for the international protection of the environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 309-328, October.
  9. Eyckmans, Johan & Finus, Michael, 2009. "An Almost Ideal Sharing Scheme for Coalition Games with Externalities," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2009-10, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  10. Kolstad, Charles D., 2007. "Systematic uncertainty in self-enforcing international environmental agreements," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 68-79, January.
  11. Tol, Richard S. J., 2005. "The marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions: an assessment of the uncertainties," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(16), pages 2064-2074, November.
  12. Ulph, Alistair & Ulph, David, 1997. "Global Warming, Irreversibility and Learning," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(442), pages 636-50, May.
  13. Ulph, A. & Maddison, D., 1995. "Uncertainty, learning and international environmental policy co-ordination," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9507, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  14. Carsten Helm, 1998. "International Cooperation Behind the Veil of Uncertainty – The Case of Transboundary Acidification," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 12(2), pages 185-201, September.
  15. Scott Barrett, 2006. "Climate Treaties and "Breakthrough" Technologies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 22-25, May.
  16. Rubio, Santiago J. & Ulph, Alistair, 2007. "An infinite-horizon model of dynamic membership of international environmental agreements," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 296-310, November.
  17. Francesco Bosello & Barbara Buchner & Carlo Carraro, 2003. "Equity, Development, and Climate Change Control," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 601-611, 04/05.
  18. Donsimoni, Marie-Paule & Economides, Nicholas S & Polemarchakis, Herakles M, 1986. "Stable Cartels," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 27(2), pages 317-27, June.
  19. Haeringer, Guillaume, 2004. "Equilibrium binding agreements: a comment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 140-143, July.
  20. Ezra Einy & Diego Moreno & Benyamin Shitovitz, 2002. "The Value Of Public Information In A Cournot Duopoly," Economics Working Papers we024617, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  21. Yi, Sang-Seung, 1997. "Stable Coalition Structures with Externalities," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 201-237, August.
  22. Santiago J. Rubio & Alistair Ulph, 2006. "Self-enforcing international environmental agreements revisited," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 233-263, April.
  23. Sang-Seung, Yi, 1996. "Endogenous formation of customs unions under imperfect competition: open regionalism is good," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1-2), pages 153-177, August.
  24. Barrett, Scott, 1994. "Self-Enforcing International Environmental Agreements," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(0), pages 878-94, Supplemen.
  25. Na, Seong-lin & Shin, Hyun Song, 1998. "International Environmental Agreements under Uncertainty," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(2), pages 173-85, April.
  26. Raymond Deneckere & Carl Davidson, 1985. "Incentives to Form Coalitions with Bertrand Competition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(4), pages 473-486, Winter.
  27. Kolstad, Charles D., 1996. "Learning and Stock Effects in Environmental Regulation: The Case of Greenhouse Gas Emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 1-18, July.
  28. Fuentes-Albero, Cristina & Rubio, Santiago J., 2010. "Can international environmental cooperation be bought?," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 202(1), pages 255-264, April.
  29. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
  30. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521834773 is not listed on IDEAS
  31. Claude d'Aspremont & Alexis Jacquemin & Jean Jaskold Gabszewicz & John A. Weymark, 1983. "On the Stability of Collusive Price Leadership," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 16(1), pages 17-25, February.
  32. Arce M., Daniel G. & Sandler, Todd, 2001. "Transnational public goods: strategies and institutions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 493-516, September.
  33. Finus, Michael & Tjotta, Sigve, 2003. "The Oslo Protocol on sulfur reduction: the great leap forward?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2031-2048, September.
  34. Asheim, Geir B. & Froyn, Camilla Bretteville & Hovi, Jon & Menz, Fredric C., 2006. "Regional versus global cooperation for climate control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 93-109, January.
  35. Kolstad, Charles D., 1996. "Fundamental irreversibilities in stock externalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 221-233, May.
  36. Charles Kolstad & Alistair Ulph, 2011. "Uncertainty, Learning and Heterogeneity in International Environmental Agreements," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 50(3), pages 389-403, November.
  37. Poyago-Theotoky, Joanna, 1995. "Equilibrium and Optimal Size of a Research Joint Venture in an Oligopoly with Spillovers," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 209-26, June.
  38. Hans-Peter Weikard, 2005. "Cartel Stability under an Optimal Sharing Rule," Working Papers 2005.77, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  39. Alistair Ulph, 2004. "Stable International Environmental Agreements with a Stock Pollutant, Uncertainty and Learning," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 53-73, 07.
  40. Barrett, Scott, 2001. "International cooperation for sale," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 1835-1850, December.
  41. Charles Kolstad, 2005. "Piercing the Veil of Uncertainty in Transboundary Pollution Agreements," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 31(1), pages 21-34, 05.
  42. Matthew McGinty, 2007. "International environmental agreements among asymmetric nations," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 45-62, January.
  43. Michael Hoel, 1992. "International environment conventions: The case of uniform reductions of emissions," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(2), pages 141-159, March.
  44. Rob Dellink & Michael Finus & Niels Olieman, 2008. "The stability likelihood of an international climate agreement," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 39(4), pages 357-377, April.
  45. Boucher, Vincent & Bramoullé, Yann, 2010. "Providing global public goods under uncertainty," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 591-603, October.
  46. Frankel, Jeffrey A & Rockett, Katharine E, 1988. "International Macroeconomic Policy Coordination When Policymakers Do Not Agree on the True Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 318-40, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:103:y:2013:i:c:p:29-43. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.