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Waste of Effort? International Environmental Agreements

Derek Kellenberg () and Arik Levinson ()

Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 2014, vol. 1, issue 1, 135 - 169

Abstract: Most evidence suggests that the 1,000 or so different International Environmental Agreements (IEAs) operating today are ineffectual, merely ratifying business-as-usual outcomes. But much of that empirical analysis faces two obstacles: (1) limited data from before the IEAs were enacted and thus an inability to make before-and-after comparisons and (2) difficulty estimating the counterfactual outcomes--what would have happened absent the agreements. We study one particular IEA--the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. In this special case we do have data prior to the agreement, enabling us to identify the treaty's effects using annual bilateral waste shipments among countries before and after one of the trading partners ratifies the agreement. Despite the strengths of this approach, we find almost no evidence that the Convention has resulted in less waste being shipped among countries.

Date: 2014
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