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Endogenous Minimum Participation in International Environmental Treaties

  • Carlo Carraro


  • Carmen Marchiori
  • Sonia Oreffice


Many international treaties come into force only after a minimum number of countries have signed and ratified the treaty. Why do countries agree to introduce a minimum participation constraint among the rules characterising an international treaty? This question is particularly relevant in the case of environmental treaties dealing with global commons, where free-riding incentives are strong. Is a minimum participation rule a way to offset these free-riding incentives? Why do countries that know they have an incentive to free-ride accept to “tie their hands” through the introduction of a minimum participation constraint? This paper addresses the above questions by analysing a three-stage non-cooperative coalition formation game. In the first stage, countries set the minimum coalition size that is necessary for the treaty to come into force. In the second stage, countries decide whether to sign the treaty. In the third stage, the equilibrium values of the decision variables are set. At the equilibrium, both the minimum participation constraint and the number of signatories – the coalition size – are determined. This paper shows that a non-trivial partial coalition, sustained by a binding minimum participation constraint, forms at the equilibrium. This paper thus explains why in international negotiations all countries often agree on a minimum participation rule even when some of them do not intend to sign the treaty. The paper also analyses the optimal size of the minimum participation constraint.

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Article provided by European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in its journal Environmental and Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 42 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 411-425

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Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:42:y:2009:i:3:p:411-425
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  1. Alistair Ulph & Santiago J. Rubio, 2004. "Self-Enforcing International Environmental Agreements Revisited," Working Papers. Serie AD 2004-23, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
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  3. Ray, D. & Vohra, R., 1993. "Equilibrium Binding Agreements," Papers 21, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  4. d'ASPREMONT, Claude & JACQUEMIN, Alexis & GABSZEWICZ, Jean J. & WEYMARK, John A., . "On the stability of collusive price leadership," CORE Discussion Papers RP 522, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. CHANDER, Parkash & TULKENS, Henry, 1994. "A Core-Theoretic Solution for the Design of Cooperative Agreements on Transfrontier Pollution," CORE Discussion Papers 1994048, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Yi, Sang-Seung, 1997. "Stable Coalition Structures with Externalities," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 201-237, August.
  7. Effrosyni Diamantoudi & Eftichios S. Sartzetakis, 2001. "Stable International Environmental Agreements: An Analytical Approach," Working Papers 04001, Concordia University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2003.
  8. Carlo Carraro (ed.), 2003. "The Endogenous Formation of Economic Coalitions," Books, Edward Elgar, number 2999.
  9. 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.
  10. Carraro, Carlo & Marchiori, Carmen, 2002. "Stable Coalitions," CEPR Discussion Papers 3258, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    • Carlo Carraro & Carmen Marchiori, 2003. "Stable coalitions," Chapters, in: The Endogenous Formation of Economic Coalitions, chapter 5 Edward Elgar.
  11. Debraj Ray & Rajiv Vohra, 1996. "A Theory of Endogenous Coalition Structure," Papers 0068, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  12. Barrett, Scott, 1994. "Self-Enforcing International Environmental Agreements," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(0), pages 878-94, Supplemen.
  13. Carraro, Carlo & Siniscalco, Domenico, 1998. "International Institutions and Environmental Policy: International environmental agreements: Incentives and political economy1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 561-572, May.
  14. Carraro, Carlo & Siniscalco, Domenico, 1992. "The international dimension of environmental policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 379-387, April.
  15. Eyckmans, Johan & Tulkens, Henry, 2003. "Simulating coalitionally stable burden sharing agreements for the climate change problem," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 299-327, October.
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