Compliance with climate change agreements: the constraints of consumption

Paul G. Harris, Taedong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The Kyoto Protocol required most developed countries collectively to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions about 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. Despite the binding nature of each country’s emissions-limitation target, levels of compliance varied greatly. What explains this variation in compliance? This article shows that the amount of material consumption within each country may contribute to answering this question. Using cross-sectional time-series data analysis for 36 Annex I (developed) countries from 2000 to 2012 and controlling for a range of domestic and international factors, quantitative analysis shows that compliance with emissions targets is least likely to be realized in countries with higher levels of consumption. This tendency has vitally important implications for agreements on future emissions limitations because those agreements must include more of the large developing countries that are intent on raising their own citizens’ consumption toward levels in the developed world. Without addressing consumption behaviors and the policy implications thereof, adequately mitigating GHG pollution in the future, notably through the 2015 Paris Agreement, will be extremely difficult.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-794
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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