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Differentiation, Leaders, and Fairness: Negotiating Climate Commitments in the European Community

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Scholars contend that symmetrical environmental measures are widely used because they simplify negotiations, prevent countries from pursuing extreme bargaining positions, and reflect salient focal points. This article argues that it is possible to negotiate and reach asymmetrical environmental agreements that take into account significant national dissimilarities. It is demonstrated that analytical models and intuitively appealing model-based quantitative indicators of national circumstances can establish premises for negotiations leading to differentiated environmental agreements. While they do not take the place of political negotiation, they help identify a formula that defines the problem in a resolvable fashion and prevents the bargaining space from expanding uncontrollably. Moreover, in pre-Kyoto European Community climate policy, which this article empirically examines, high transaction costs and EC member states' ability to block costly agreements were not essential. The article concludes by suggesting four recommendations for reaching differentiated environmental agreements.

Affiliations: 1: Center for International Climate and Environmental Research-Oslo (CICERO), P.O. Box 1129 Blindern, N--0317 Oslo, Norway


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