The Economics of International Policy Agreements to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation

An updated version of this paper was published in the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy. Please cite the updated version.

This paper provides a synthesis of the key conceptual insights from economics that can contribute to the design of effective, efficient, and fair international policy that creates incentives and strengthens capability to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and promote reforestation (REDD+ in United Nations terminology) as part of the international climate change mitigation effort. Most of the emphasis is on the contribution of economics to effective design of results-based policies that introduce a price incentive for strong states to address deforestation, degradation, and reforestation.

The paper emphasizes the value of large-scale agreements to minimize leakage and adverse selection, the importance of allocating uncertainty with care, and the need to differentiate clearly among potentially conflicting objectives. It explores the conflicts between cost sharing and efficiency that arise because of private information and the inability of states to make long-term commitments. It also canvasses policies that complement price incentives, and, for weak states only, substitutes for results-based agreements.