Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Voluntary pollution restrictions do not work

The literature on international environmental agreements has established that when such agreement are only of the self-enforcing kind (not imposed by a supranational entity), they cannot exceed three participants. That is certainly disappointing, as we would need much more than that to get significant impact. This literature, however, looked at these countries in a vacuum, in particular the only interaction they would have is through pollution. Now it turns out that in reality they also trade with each other, and trade policy is also available as an instrument.

This is how Thomas Eichner and Rüdiger Pethig expand the extant literature. The addition of trade allows more countries to participate in a self-enforcing agreement. But this comes at the cost of an agreement with significantly less bite. These are interesting results, but I have a hard time finding intuition for this, and the authors are not of much help. Consider this to be an appeal for clarification.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is this another one of these papers that does not take into account political realities, as recently pointed out here? Countries do have bargaining chips on other dimensions that they can leverage to get more compliance.