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North Atlantic Plastic Pollution: Equity Preferences and Cost Sharing in International Environmental Agreements

6 April 2022

North Atlantic Plastic Pollution: Equity Preferences and Cost Sharing in International Environmental Agreements

In the first UKNEE webinar of 2022, Dr Tobias Börger will take us through this study, which examines empirically the importance of equity preferences for the formation of international environmental agreements (IEA) for transboundary pollution control. 

While it has been showntheoretically that the existence of equity preferences among countries considering an IEA increases the chances of formation and stability of a coalition, empirical assessments of such preferences are so-far limited to climate change mitigation and to single-country studies. 

This study looks at the case of marine plastic pollution as a transboundary pollution control problem with interesting properties. We employ a coordinated choice experiment in the UK and USA to assess preferences for abatement cost allocations in a marine plastics IEA. Pairs of cooperating countries and relative allocation of abatement costs are varied experimentally. Results show systematic aversion to both advantageous and disadvantageous inequality, but also that the relative strength of advantageous and disadvantageous inequality aversion with respect to abatement costs differs across countries. Across both countries surveyed, there is evidence that left-leaning voters generally favour more equal international sharing of abatement costs.

Dr Tobias Börger is professor of environmental economics at Berlin School of Economics and Law and honorary senior research fellow at the University of Stirling. In previous positions, he worked at the University of St Andrews and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Tobias holds an MSc in economics from the University of Bonn (Germany) and a PhD from the University of Hohenheim (Germany). His research focuses on the application and development of environmental valuation methods. Specifically, he applies choice experiments, contingent valuation and various recreation demand models to assess the value of environmental goods and ecosystem services. He has led and contributed to a wide range of interdisciplinary research projects in the UK, Europe and Asia involving, for instance, the valuation of benefits from blue/green infrastructure in urban Vietnam; marine species conservation in UK regional seas or water quality and blue-space recreation across the European Union.

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