In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Economics of International Environmental Agreements

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Sources
  • Seminal Papers
  • Survey Papers
  • Books, Anthologies, and Edited Books
  • Journals

Environmental Science Economics of International Environmental Agreements
Hans-Peter Weikard, Ekko van Ierland
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 September 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 September 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199363445-0027


International Environmental Agreements (IEAs) respond to transnational environmental problems associated with the use of environmental resources such as, for example, water resources in international river basins, transboundary oil and gas fields, fisheries in international waters or harvesting of migratory fish, and also transboundary pollution of water and air. An important strand of the literature deals with international climate agreements focusing on reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases. In general, IEAs address transboundary externalities and international public goods. Economic analyses of IEAs have employed game theory to explore the scope for international cooperation to resolve transboundary problems. Game theory considers the strategic situation that decision makerss face. A game specifies players, their strategies, and their payoffs under any possible course of action. It is generally assumed that players will act rationally, seeking to maximize their payoff. Although it is obvious that international cooperation can bring about huge gains through coordinated management of resources and efficient pollution control, individual free-riding behavior of countries or regions may block effective cooperation. Hence, game theory is employed in many studies to analyze strategic incentives for participation in IEAs. Empirical work deals with case studies to explain or analyze particular agreements or employs behavioral experiments to explore how institutional designs impact cooperation.

Introductory Sources

The reader who is unacquainted with this topic can get a good idea of the basic game theoretic approach to transboundary pollution and IEAs from textbook chapters by Hanley, et al. 2006 or Perman, et al. 2011.

  • Hanley, Nick, Jason F. Shogren, and Ben White. 2006. Environmental economics in theory and practice. 2d ed. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan.

    General textbook on environmental economics for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Chapter 6 pays particular attention to transboundary pollution.

  • Perman, Roger, Yue Ma, Michael Common, David Maddison, and James McGilvray. 2011. Natural Resource and Environmental Economics. 4th ed. Harlow, UK: Addison Wesley.

    Textbook covering a wide range of environmental economics topics for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Chapter 9 pays particular attention to IEAs.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.