Informational Benefits of International Environmental Agreements
Given that it is difficult to monitor, and even more so to enforce, International Environmental Agreements, it is surprising that they are signed and implemented. This paper offers a theoretical model, which addresses the phenomena. The focus is on informational and coordination problems--a country which is unsure about the benefits of environmental policy may believe that the benefits are higher the greater the number of other countries which lean towards taking action. Whereas each country may individually take no environmental action, in equilibrium several countries may take environmental action if they expect others to. An International Environmental Agreement can thus be self-enforcing. 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 that is known to care little about the environment may deeply influence other countries if it takes 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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