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Enforcing 'Self-Enforcing' International Environmental Agreements


  • McEvoy, David M.
  • Stranlund, John K.


Theoretical analyses of international environmental agreements (IEAs) have typically employed the concept of self-enforcing agreements to predict the number of parties to such an agreement. The term self-enforcing, however, is a bit misleading. The concept refers to the stability of cooperative agreements, not to enforcing these agreements once they are in place. Most analyses of IEAs simply ignore the issue of enforcing compliance. In this paper we analyze a static IEA game in which parties to an agreement finance an independent enforcement body with the power to monitor the parties' compliance to the terms of an IEA and impose penalties in cases of noncompliance. This approach is broadly consistent with the enforcement mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol under the Marrakesh Accords. We find that costly enforcement limits the circumstances under which international cooperation to protect the environment is worthwhile, but when IEAs are expected to form they will involve greater participation than IEAs that do not require costly enforcement. Consequently, costly enforcement of IEAs is associated with higher international environmental quality. Moreover, under certain conditions, aggregate welfare is higher when IEAs require costly enforcement.

Suggested Citation

  • McEvoy, David M. & Stranlund, John K., 2006. "Enforcing 'Self-Enforcing' International Environmental Agreements," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21403, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea06:21403

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Environmental Economics and Policy;

    JEL classification:

    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • F53 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Agreements and Observance; International Organizations


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