This completes my presentation of the theory. I will not attempt to summarize all of the book's conclusions, only the ten most important conclusions for treaty-making:
1. The principal task of a treaty is to restructure incentives. A treaty is negotiated because countries are dissatisfied with the status quo. To induce a change in behavior requires a change in incentives. A treaty like the Helsinki Protocol that simply obligates countries to meet an emissions target does not restructure incentives and so will not change behavior. 1 Unless a treaty changes incentives, countries are likely only to agree to a target they felt confident they would meet anyway.
2. Compliance needs to be enforced, but participation is the binding constraint on international cooperation. For the reason previously mentioned, the fact that most countries comply with most treaties most of the time is no reason to think that substantial cooperation is being achieved. 2 At the same time, punishing only non-compliance will not sustain real cooperation either. The reason is that countries can easily avoid such punishments by not participating. A treaty that sustains real cooperation must deter non-compliance and non-participation. 3 The latter is harder to achieve; it requires more substantial punishments, and these will generally be less credible. Participation should therefore be a main focus of any treaty negotiation.
3. Regional or minilateral environmental problems are easier to remedy than global environmental problems. This is not a new idea, but I think I have given a clearer explanation for why the result holds. I have also shown that whether a given number of countries is “large” or “small” depends on the problem at hand. 4 A corollary is that treaties seeking to manage common property resources effectively must deter entry.
4. The means by which a treaty tries to change behavior is a strategic choice. The instrument for changing behavior may be a quantitative limit—on emissions, say, or fishing catch. Alternatively, it may be a policy or measure—a technology standard (use of a turtle excluder device) or a common emissions tax, or a subsidy for R&D, or a trade restriction. Such instruments can be strategic substitutes or strategic complements. That is, some instruments will induce a positive feedback (as your country does
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Publication information: Book title: Environment and Statecraft: The Strategy of Environmental Treaty-Making. Contributors: Scott Barrett - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 355.
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