Start of Project 09/2018
End of Project 02/2022

There is a need for regulatory com­pliance with nationally de­ter­mined con­tri­butions (NDCs) and greenhouse gas in­ven­tory pro­cesses to en­sure an effective in­ter­national climate policy. The COMPLIANCE project investigates which systematic and country-specific factors influence com­pli­ance with national cli­mate targets. On the basis of theo­retical, empirical, and ex­pe­rimental findings, the project supports the de­ve­lopment of new ideas about com­pli­ance and en­force­ment me­cha­nisms and ge­ne­rates ad­vice for policy-makers.

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Project results

The EU lacks reliable data to verify compliance in the ETS-regulated sector. In non-regulated sectors, the situation is similar. Carbon border tax adjustments create new areas where compliance and credibility problems are inevitable. Nevertheless, climate experts consider the EU's commitments in the Paris Agreement to be fundamentally credible. Indeed, international agreements are evolving toward greater effectiveness through positive and negative incentive schemes.
MRV&E institutions improve the success of IEAs, and in some cases are even a prerequisite. There is still untapped potential in monitoring. Tensions exist between effectiveness and efficiency in the organization of MRV&E. This is confirmed by the experts interviewed, who also regard the 'soft' transparency mechanism of the Paris Agreement positively.
International climate cooperation benefits when states put their compliance reputation in the spotlight. Theoretically and experimentally, an interlinking of climate and trade policy has high prospects of success, which are also shared by experts.

Illustration of project results

Assessment of expected compliance and ambition of NDC pledge for EU, USA & China

Figure Legend:
(a) Average Likert-Scale rating concerning the question “How confident are you that the fol­low­ing countries or group of countries will fulfill their current NDC submitted under the Paris Agreement?” on a scale from “(1) Not confident at all” to “(5) Very confident.” Re­spon­dents had to make one assessment for each of the listed coun­tries or group of countries. Assessments made by negotiators at past COPs. Assessments for the own home country or country group were not considered.
(b) Average Likert-Scale rating concerning the question “Please evaluate the ambition of the current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted under the Paris Agreement by the following countries or group of countries. Please think of ambition of the NDC relative to a country’s economic strength.” on a scale from “(1) Not ambitious at all” to “(5) Very ambitious.” Respondents had to make one assessment for each of the listed countries or group of countries. Assessments made by negotiators at past COPs. Assessments for the own home country or country group were not considered. Whiskers indicate 95% confidence interval.

Main Findings

  • Alternative import tariffs can neutralise carbon leakage and require less in­for­mation com­pared to CBAM.
  • Importance of political and institutional factors in com­plying with and streng­thening the Paris Agreement.
  • Monitoring and com­­pliance mecha­nisms used in EU burden sharing can serve as a model for the im­­ple­men­tation of the Paris Agreement.
  • Further develop­ment of the Paris Agree­ment can continue to build on de­­cen­tralised monitoring, but needs to focus more on in­sti­tu­tions of cen­tralised en­forcement.


Barrett, S., Dannenberg, A. (2021):
The decision to link trade agreements to the supply of global public goods. Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists 9 (2): 273-305.

Chlond, B., Gavard, C., Jeuck, L. (2021):
Supporting Residential Energy Conservation Under Constrained Public Budget: Cost-Effectiveness and Redistribution Analysis of Public Financial Schemes in France. ZEW Discussion Paper No. 21-056.

Gavard, C., Kirat, D. (2020):
Short-Term Impacts of Carbon Offsetting on Emissions Trading Schemes: Empirical Insights from the EU Experience. ZEW Discussion Paper No. 20-058.

Goeschl, T., Oestreich, M., Solda, A. (2021):
Compliance and Truthfulness: Leveraging Peer Information with Competitive Audit Mechanisms. SSRN: 3978789.

Victor, D. G., Lumkowsky, M., Dannenberg, A. (2022):
Determining the credibility of commitments in international climate policy. Nature Climate Change 12: 793-800.