Incentives, Fairness and Compliance in International Environmental Agreements

Problem description

During the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2015 (COP21) and its resulting Paris Agreement, 195 countries agreed to set out a global action plan to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This agreement is designed based on a bottom-up nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which are voluntarily imposed by different Parties themselves. In order to approach the long-term climate objective, adequate compliance across regions and countries are necessary. The introduced bottom-up agreement attracts broad participation, however the compliance among countries of different regions still remains a challenge

Research goals

The parts of the project at IOER aim to:

  • Identify facts on the role of fairness in compliance with international environmental agreements.
  • Examine key drivers of compliance among different countries.
  • Find the potential relationship between countries’ contribution and ambition over time.
  • Investigate preferences of international delegates regarding compliance with the Paris Agreement.

Research questions

  • What is the role of fairness in designing an international environmental agreement?
  • Which approaches could be applied to define a treaty which is perceived fair across countries?
  • Do different countries and regions have different attitudes towards compliance approaches?


The preferences of delegates in international climate negotiations regarding compliance issues with the Paris Agreement are studied via an online survey. The responses of delegates are the input data for descriptive analyses and statistical regression analyses.

Envisaged results

The project makes it possible to achieve a broad global perspective towards fairness and its role in climate negotiations. The knowledge and experience gained in this project is very useful for further relevant research e.g., regional compliance with climate policies.

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.