The International Law and Politics of Climate Change
A considerable challenge for the creators of international environmental agreements is how to design mechanisms that deter defection without deterring participation. Relatively ``soft'' law often garners widespread participation, but it creates few concrete incentives for states to improve behavior. ``Harder'' commitments make shirking more difficult, but these institutional features may deter from joining the very states whose practices are least consistent with the treaty's requirements. Empirical analyses of ratification of the core agreements of the climate change regime support these propositions. Flexibility provisions provide one mechanism for states to mitigate this dilemma. The findings with regard to one flexibility mechanism strongly support this argument. The results with regard to a second flexibility mechanism, however, tend to follow an opposite pattern. The author offers a preliminary interpretation of this finding. Finally, this article provides insight into how international social networks and the strength of domestic nongovernmental organizations affect ratification.
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