Greenwash or green gain? Predicting the success and evaluating the effectiveness of environmental voluntary agreements

Dorit Kerret*, Alon Tal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This article provides a detailed review of one nation's experience with voluntary environmental agreements and considers how the results should inform the policy and legal debate surrounding environmental contracts as a regulatory alternative. It begins with a brief survey of the American experience in forging environmental agreements as a regulatory alternative for environmental protection. These programs help to illuminate the different contexts in which contracts are drafted and how these circumstances can influence the substantive contents and subsequent implementation of respective agreements. A discussion of different approaches and indicators that might be applied to assess the successes of environmental agreements follows. Due to the large variety of voluntary agreements, a dichotomous categorization of environmental voluntary agreements is first introduced. A distinction is made between strong and weak environmental enforcement agencies, incorporating the broader functions that voluntary agreements can ultimately serve in contrasting contexts. This contrast is further developed in the following section, which presents evaluation criteria and predictors to voluntary agreements. The review draws heavily on the European experience and the existing literature that is emerging there in program evaluation of environmental contracts and agreements. In addition, different effectiveness predictors for each category of voluntary agreements are proposed as a basis for helping decision makers assess the likely future efficacy of new environmental agreements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-84
Number of pages54
JournalPenn State Environmental Law Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2005


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