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Free-riding in international environmental agreements: A signaling approach to non-enforceable treaties

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  • Ana Espínola-Arredondo

    () (School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University, USA)

  • Félix Muñoz-García

    (School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University, USA)

Abstract

This paper examines countries' free-riding incentives in international environmental agreements (lEAs) when, first, the treaty is non-enforceable, and, second, countries do not have complete information about other countries' non-compliance cost. We analyze a signaling model whereby the country leading the negotiations of the international agreement can reveal its own non-compliance costs through the commitment level it signs in the IEA. Our results show that countries' probability of joining the IEA is increasing in the free-riding benefits they can obtain from other countries' compliance, and decreasing in the cost of not complying with the initial terms of the agreement. This paper shows that, when free-riding incentives are strong enough, there is no equilibrium in which all countries join the IEA. Despite not joining the IEA, however, countries invest in clean technologies. Finally, we relate our results with some common observations in international negotiations.

Suggested Citation

  • Ana Espínola-Arredondo & Félix Muñoz-García, 2011. "Free-riding in international environmental agreements: A signaling approach to non-enforceable treaties," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 23(1), pages 111-134, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jothpo:v:23:y:2011:i:1:p:111-134
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bac, Mehmet, 1996. "Incomplete Information and Incentives to Free Ride on International Environmental Resources," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 301-315, May.
    2. Lange, Andreas & Vogt, Carsten, 2003. "Cooperation in international environmental negotiations due to a preference for equity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2049-2067, September.
    3. Brandt, Urs Steiner, 2004. "Unilateral actions, the case of international environmental problems," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 373-391, December.
    4. Barrett, Scott, 1994. "Self-Enforcing International Environmental Agreements," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(0), pages 878-894, Supplemen.
    5. Michael Hoel & Kerstin Schneider, 1997. "Incentives to participate in an international environmental agreement," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 9(2), pages 153-170, March.
    6. 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.
    7. Ana Espinola-Arredondo, 2009. "Free-Riding and Cooperation in Environmental Games," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 11(1), pages 119-158, February.
    8. Putnam, Robert D., 1988. "Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 427-460, June.
    9. Scott Barrett, 1994. "The biodiversity supergame," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(1), pages 111-122, February.
    10. Whalley, John, 1991. "The Interface between Environmental and Trade Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(405), pages 180-189, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carsten Helm & Franz Wirl, 2016. "Climate Policies with Private Information: The Case for Unilateral Action," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 893-916.
    2. Alejandro Caparrós, 2016. "Bargaining and International Environmental Agreements," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 65(1), pages 5-31, September.
    3. Bodas Freitas, Isabel Maria & Dantas, Eva & Iizuka, Michiko, 2012. "The Kyoto mechanisms and the diffusion of renewable energy technologies in the BRICS," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 118-128.
    4. Ana Espinola-Arredondo & Felix Munoz-Garcia, 2010. "Keeping Negotiations in the Dark: Environmental Agreements under Incomplete Information," Working Papers 2010-20, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    environmental agreements; non-binding negotiations; non-compliance cost; signaling games;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy

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