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International Cooperation Behind the Veil of Uncertainty – The Case of Transboundary Acidification

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  • Carsten Helm

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Abstract

The complexities of international environmental problems are only poorly understood. Hence, decision makers have to negotiate about abatement measures even though they do not know the 'true' model of the ecological system and have only a rough idea about the costs and benefits of their action. It will be analysed to what extent this kind of 'model uncertainty' – where players do not only have incomplete information about the payoff functions of the other players, but also about their own payoff function – affects the prospects of international cooperation. Using a simple game-theoretic model, it is shown how countries can use the veil of uncertainty to hide their distributional interests. The arguments are based on a deviation from the common prior assumption, which seems particularly questionable in a setting comprising various countries with different cultural and scientific backgrounds. Finally the model will prove useful to quantitatively and qualitatively illustrate the central role of model uncertainty in the negotiations of the first Sulphur Protocol signed to combat transboundary acidification. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Suggested Citation

  • Carsten Helm, 1998. "International Cooperation Behind the Veil of Uncertainty – The Case of Transboundary Acidification," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 12(2), pages 185-201, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:12:y:1998:i:2:p:185-201
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1008215711692
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Aumann, Robert J, 1987. "Correlated Equilibrium as an Expression of Bayesian Rationality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 1-18, January.
    2. Kenneth J. Arrow & Anthony C. Fisher, 1974. "Environmental Preservation, Uncertainty, and Irreversibility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(2), pages 312-319.
    3. 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 318-340, June.
    4. Gough, C. A. & Bailey, P. D. & Biewald, B. & Kuylenstierna, J. C. I. & Chadwick, M. J., 1994. "Environmentally targeted objectives for reducing acidification in Europe," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(12), pages 1055-1066, December.
    5. Henk Folmer & Pierre Mouche & Shannon Ragland, 1993. "Interconnected games and international environmental problems," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(4), pages 313-335, August.
    6. Arrow, Kenneth J & Lind, Robert C, 1970. "Uncertainty and the Evaluation of Public Investment Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 364-378, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jungcurt, Stefan, 2004. "The Politics of Incoherence: A Framework for the Analysis of Functional Overlap in International Governance as Two-Level Game," Institutional Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources Discussion Papers 18841, Humboldt University Berlin, Department of Agricultural Economics.
    2. Finus, Michael & Pintassilgo, Pedro, 2013. "The role of uncertainty and learning for the success of international climate agreements," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 29-43.
    3. Michael Finus & Pedro Pintassilgo, 2012. "International environmental agreements under uncertainty: does the 'veil of uncertainty' help?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 736-764, October.
    4. Morath, Florian, 2010. "Strategic information acquisition and the mitigation of global warming," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 206-217, March.
    5. Toshiyuki Fujita, 2004. "Design of international environmental agreements under uncertainty," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 6(2), pages 103-118, June.
    6. 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.
    7. Kolstad Charles D, 2010. "Equity, Heterogeneity and International Environmental Agreements," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-17, October.

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