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Addressing Global Environmental Externalities: Transaction Costs Considerations

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  • Gary D. Libecap

Abstract

Is there a way to understand why some global environmental externalities are addressed effectively whereas others are not? The transaction costs of defining the property rights to mitigation benefits and costs is a useful framework for such analysis. This approach views international cooperation as a contractual process among country leaders to assign those property rights. Leaders cooperate when it serves domestic interests to do so. The demand for property rights comes from those who value and stand to gain from multilateral action. Property rights are supplied by international agreements that specify resource access and use, assign costs and benefits including outlining the size and duration of compensating transfer payments and determining who will pay and who will receive them. Four factors raise the transaction costs of assigning property rights: (i) scientific uncertainty regarding mitigation benefits and costs; (ii) varying preferences and perceptions across heterogeneous populations; (iii) asymmetric information; and (iv) the extent of compliance and new entry. These factors are used to examine the role of transaction costs in the establishment and allocation of property rights to provide globally-valued national parks, implement the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), execute the Montreal Protocol to control emissions that damage the stratospheric ozone layer, set limits on harvest of highly-migratory ocean fish stocks, and control greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

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  • Gary D. Libecap, 2013. "Addressing Global Environmental Externalities: Transaction Costs Considerations," NBER Working Papers 19501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19501
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    2. Weitzman, Martin L., 2017. "Voting on prices vs. voting on quantities in a World Climate Assembly," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 199-211.
    3. Martin L. Weitzman, 2015. "Internalizing the Climate Externality: Can a Uniform Price Commitment Help?," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    4. Martin L. Weitzman, 2016. "How a Minimum Carbon Price Commitment Might Help to Internalize the Global Warming Externality," NBER Working Papers 22197, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Martin L. Weitzman, 2017. "On a World Climate Assembly and the Social Cost of Carbon," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(336), pages 559-586, October.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods
    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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