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Economic Theory for the Environment

Essays in Honour of Karl-Göran Mäler

Edited by Bengt Kriström, Partha Dasgupta and Karl-Gustaf Löfgren

Karl-Göran Mäler’s work has been a mainstay of the frontiers of environmental economics for more than three decades. This outstanding book, in his honour, assembles some of the best minds in the economics profession to confront and resolve many of the problems affecting the husbandry of our national environments.
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Chapter 3: The Strategy of Treaty Negotiation: ‘Broad but Shallow’ versus ‘Narrow but Deep’

Scott Barrett


3. The strategy of treaty negotiation: ‘broad but shallow’ versus ‘narrow but deep’ Scott Barrett 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter builds on the foundation laid by Karl Göran Mäler’s (1989, 1991) pioneering research on the acid rain game. My concern here is with two features of international environmental agreements: that they must be selfenforcing and that they must be fair. It is obvious why agreements must be self-enforcing. There is no world government that can enforce an agreement between countries. But why should agreements be fair? You could argue that fairness is required on philosophical grounds, but I wish to stress a different motivation. This is that an agreement is more likely to be self-enforcing if it is fair. A fair agreement is more likely to be perceived as being legitimate; and, as Bodansky (1999: 603), a professor of international law, argues, ‘whether international environmental regimes are perceived as legitimate will play an important role in their long-term success’. I shall take it that the underlying problem is to supply either a regional or global public good. It is not in any country’s interests to supply the public good unilaterally, but all countries would be better off if every country supplied the good. There is thus a gap between the non-cooperative and full cooperative outcomes. The purpose of an international agreement is to close this gap – or at least to narrow it. This is essentially the same game that Mäler (1989, 1991) analysed, the only difference being that...

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