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Informational benefits of international environmental agreements

  • Amihai Glazer
  • Stef Proost

Given the difficulty of monitoring, and even more so of enforcing, International Environmental Agreements, it is surprising that they are signed and implemented. This paper offers a theoretical model, which addresses this issue. The focus is on informational and coordination problems. A country which is unsure about the benefits of environmental policy may find that the benefits are higher the greater the number of other countries which lean towards taking action. Whereas each country may individually take weak environmental action, in equilibrium several countries may take strong action if they expect others to. An International Environmental Agreement can thus be selfenforcing. Such effects can appear even if international environmental spillovers are absent, and even if monitoring and enforcement are infeasible. Our approach can explain additional phenomena: why a country known to care little about the environment may deeply influence other countries if it takes strong environmental action, why lags may appear between the signing of an agreement and its implementation, and how requirements for approval by several bodies within a country can increase support for environmental action.

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Paper provided by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën in its series Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers with number ces0814.

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Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ete:ceswps:ces0814
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  1. Murdoch, James C. & Sandler, Todd & Vijverberg, Wim P. M., 2003. "The participation decision versus the level of participation in an environmental treaty: a spatial probit analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 337-362, February.
  2. Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Does Competition Destroy Ethical Behavior?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 414-418, May.
  3. Parkash Chander & Henry Tulkens, 1995. "A core-theoretic solution for the design of cooperative agreements on transfrontier pollution," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 279-293, August.
  4. Robert Innes, 2006. "A Theory of Consumer Boycotts under Symmetric Information and Imperfect Competition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(511), pages 355-381, 04.
  5. Wolfgang Buchholz & Alexander Haupt & Wolfgang Peters, 2005. "International Environmental Agreements and Strategic Voting," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(1), pages 175-195, 03.
  6. Baron, David P., 2002. "Private Politics and Private Policy: A Theory of Boycotts," Research Papers 1766, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  7. Klemperer, Paul, 1995. "Competition When Consumers Have Switching Costs: An Overview with Applications to Industrial Organization, Macroeconomics, and International Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 515-39, October.
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