The Review of International Organizations

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 475–496

Enforcing international environmental cooperation: Technological standards can help


DOI: 10.1007/s11558-010-9086-1

Cite this article as:
Urpelainen, J. Rev Int Organ (2010) 5: 475. doi:10.1007/s11558-010-9086-1


Market instruments, such as emissions trading or pollution taxes, are less costly than “command and control” regulation. Yet technological standards are common in international environmental agreements and now figure prominently among proposals to mitigate global warming. I show that technological standards can be combined with market instruments to create collective enforcement power. They allow states to internationally enforce technology installation, so the payoff to free riding decreases. A notable feature of the argument is that technological standards and market instruments are complements, while previous research has treated them as substitutes. Empirically, technological standards are most valuable if international cooperation is difficult to enforce and the rate of technological change in concerned industries is slow.


Environmental policyInternational cooperationTechnological standardsInstitutional designGame theory

JEL Codes


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© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA