STACO (Stability of Coalitions): A research project on the formation and stability of international climate agreements

STACO is a long-term project that investigates the formation and stability of international climate agreements. The core of the project is STACO coalition model, a global simulation model with 12 world regions. In recent years the project’s scope has broadened to the wider domain of International Environmental Agreements and to problems of coalition formation and stability in general.


The STACO project has first been initiated in 2002 by Prof. E.C. van Ierland, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands, and Dr. M. Finus, now at the University of Bath, UK. The project is maintained by the Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Group of Wageningen University & Research.
Originally inspired by the constitution of the Kyoto-protocol a group of researchers in (environmental) economics, game theory and operations research got together to discuss how to analyse economic incentives for nations to co-operate in the abatement of greenhouse gasses. From the perspective of the different disciplines, several questions appeared:

  • What are the relevant game theory models on coalition formation?
  • How can costs and benefits of emission reduction be estimated for different coalitions?
  • Which algorithms can be applied to compute economic equilibria?

The STACO model, has been built to analyse coalition formation in combination with a relatively simple integrated assessment model to identify efficient climate policy at a regional level. The model is suitable to analyse the stability of potential coalitions. The model with 12 world regions is designed to analyse the impact of various policy options on the stability of an international climate agreement.

Basic model structure

STACO is a calibrated global model comprising of 12 world regions. The model is formulated as an abatement model. Each region choses an abatement policy. It bears the cost of abatement and receives benefits from global abatement, i.e. the sum of all regions’ abatements. The base version of the model assumes linear benefits and a cubic cost fuction for each region. The model is calibrated for a 100-year time horizon. Details of the calibration are explained in Dellink et al. 2015.

Members and supporters

  • Juan-Carlos Altamirano-Cabrera, World Resources Institute, Washington D.C., USA
  • Erik Ansink, Department of Spatial Economics Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Kelly de Bruin, Environmental Economics, Umeå University, Sweden
  • Rob Dellink, OECD, Paris, France
  • Michael Finus, Department of Economics, University of Bath, UK
  • Eligius Hendrix, Operations Research, Wageningen University, Netherlands
  • Ekko van Ierland, Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Group, Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands
  • Miyuki Nagashima, Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth, Kyoto, Japan
  • Hans-Peter Weikard, Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Group, Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands

PhDs completed 

  • Shumin Yu, (PhD April 2017) 
  • Miyuki Nagashima (PhD March 2010), Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth, Kyoto, Japan
  • Niels Olieman (PhD March 2008), Rabo Bank, The Netherlands
  • Elena Saiz-Perez (PhD October 2007), Nijmegen University
  • Juan-Carlos Altamirano-Cabrera, (PhD February 2007) World Resources Institute, Washington D.C.  

Visiting researchers

  • Yoali Urbina Alonso (Dec 2014-Feb 2015)  
  • Raúl Castro, Natural and Environmental Resources Economics Group, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (March-April 2010)
  • Leo Wangler, Department of Economics, University of Jena, Germany (February/March 2009)
  • Cecile Poulain, Ecole Superieure d'Agriculture d'Angers, Paris, France (2005)
  • Pengcheng Liu, Huazhong Agricultural University, China (2005)

Selected publications

Formation and stability of international climate agreements

  • Yu S, Weikard HP, Zhu X, van Ierland EC (2016) International carbon trade with constrained allowance choices: Results from the STACO model. Annals of Operations Research, online.
  • Van der Pol T, Weikard HP, van Ierland EC (2012) Can altruism stabilise international climate agreements? Ecological Economics 81, 112-120.
  • Dellink RB, Finus M (2012) Uncertainty and climate treaties: Does ignorance pay? Resource and Energy Economics 34(4), 465-484.
  • Dellink RB (2011) Drivers of stability of climate coalitions in the STACO model. Climate Change Economics 2 (2), 105-128.  
  • Weikard HP, RB Dellink, van Ierland EC (2010) Renegotiations in the Greenhouse. Environmental and Resource Economics 45, 573-596.
  • Finus M (2008) Game Theoretic Research on the Design of International Environmental Agreements: Insights, Critical Remarks and Future Challenges. International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics 2, 29-67.
  • Finus M, van Ierland EC, Dellink RB (2006) Stability of climate coalitions in a cartel formation game. Economics of Governance 7, 271-291.

Coalitions with spatial structures

  • Ansink E, Gengenbach M, Weikard HP (2017) River Coalitions and Water Trade. Oxford Economic Papers 69(2), 453-469.
  • Alvarado-Quesada I, Weikard HP (2017) International cooperation on biodiversity conservation when spatial structures matter. Spatial Economic Analysis 12 (1), 27-49
  • Walker AN, Weikard HP (2015) Farsightedness, Changing Stock Location and the Stability of International Fisheries Agreements. Environmental and Resource Economics, 63(3), 591-611.
  • Gengenbach M, Weikard HP, Ansink, E (2010) Cleaning a river. An analysis of voluntary joint action. Natural Resource Modeling, 23(4), 565-590.

Transfer schemes

  • Weikard HP, Dellink RB (2014) Sticks and carrots for the design of climate agreements with renegotiations. Annals of Operation Research, 220(1), 49-68.
  • Nagashima M, Dellink RB, van Ierland EC, Weikard HP (2009) Stability of international climate coalitions - a comparison of transfer schemes. Ecological Economics 68, 1476-1487.
  • Weikard HP (2009) Cartel stability under an optimal sharing rule. The Manchester School 77 (5), 599-617.
  • Altamirano-Cabrera JC, Finus M, Dellink RB (2008) Do abatement quotas lead to more successful climate coalitions? The Manchester School 76, 104-129.
  • Weikard HP, Finus M, Altamirano-Cabrera JC (2006) The Impact of Surplus Sharing on the Stability of International Climate Agreements. Oxford Economic Papers 58, 209-232.
  • Altamirano-Cabrera JC, Finus M (2006) Permit Trading and Stability of International Climate Agreements. Journal of Applied Economics 9, 19-48.

Technological change, spillovers and the incentives for coalition formation

  • Nagashima M, Weikard HP, de Bruin KC, Dellink RB (2011) International Climate Agreements under induced technological change. Metroeconomica 62(4), 612-364.
  • Nagashima M, Dellink RB (2007) Technology spillovers and stability of international climate coalitions', International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law, and Economics 8, 343-365.

Multiple coalition formation

  • Finus M, Sáiz ME, Hendrix EMT(2008) 'An Empirical Test of New Developments in Coalition Theory for the Design of International Environmental Agreements. Environment and Development Economics 14, 117-137.
  • Sáiz ME, Hendrix EMT, Olieman NJ (2006) On the computation of stability in multiple coalition formation games. Computational Economics 28, 251-275.

Selected working papers

  • de Bruin KC, Weikard HP, Dellink RB (2009) The role of proactive adaptation in climate change mitigation. CERE Working Paper 2011:9. Umea University.
  • Altamirano-Cabrera JC, Weikard HP, Haffoudhi H (2007) Influence of Political Pressure Groups on the Stability of International Climate Agreements. NCCR Climate Working Paper 2007-03, University of Bern-EPFL-Paul Scherrer Institute, Bern.

Technical documents