, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 475-496
Date: 15 Jun 2010

Enforcing international environmental cooperation: Technological standards can help

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Abstract

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.