For International Cap-and-Trade in Carbon Permits, Price Stabilization Introduces Secondary Free-Rider-Type Problems

  • Martin L. WeitzmanEmail author


In this brief note (Without holding them responsible for errors, omissions, or interpretations, I am grateful for constructive comments on an earlier version of this note by Joseph Aldy, Severin Borenstein, Maureen Cropper, Carolyn Fischer, Meredith Fowlie, Lawrence Goulder, Geoffrey Heal, N. Gregory Mankiw, Michael Mehling, Gilbert Metcalf, Adele Morris, Ian Parry, William Pizer, Simon Quemin, Andrew Schein, Richard Schmalensee, E. Somanathan, Robert Stavins, David Victor, and Gernot Wagner.), I take the initial allocation of carbon emissions as a prototype international public goods problem. Overcoming the free-rider problem in carbon emissions is central to a successful comprehensive international climate-change agreement. Volunteerism alone may go part way, but is unlikely to fully adequately overcome this free-rider problem. (The numerical values of the pledged “Nationally Determined Contributions” under the Paris Agreement are voluntary, although the Paris Agreement itself may help constructively by laying a legal foundation for participation, reporting, verification, transparency, and trust.)


Climate change International agreements Cap-and-trade 



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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