Sample: Global Environmental Politics


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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgments

List of Acronyms


1  The Emergence of Global Environmental Politics

Global Macrotrends

An Introduction to Global Environmental Politics

International Regimes in Global Environmental Politics

Paradigms in Global Environmental Politics


2  Actors in the Environmental Arena

Nation-State Actors: Roles and Interests

Intergovernmental Organizations

Treaty Secretariats

International Financial Institutions

Regional and Other Multilateral Organizations

Nongovernmental Organizations

Business and Industry


3  The Development of Environmental Regimes: Stratospheric Ozone, Hazardous Waste, Toxic Chemicals, and Climate Change

Stratospheric Ozone Depletion

Hazardous Waste

Toxic Chemicals

Climate Change


4  The Development of Environmental Regimes: Natural Resources, Species, and Habitats

Biodiversity Loss

International Trade in Endangered Species


Desertification and Land Degradation

Fisheries Depletion



5  Effective Environmental Regimes: Obstacles and Opportunities

Obstacles to Creating Strong Environmental Regimes

Obstacles to Effective National Implementation of and Compliance with Global Environmental Regimes

Opportunities to Improve Effective Implementation and Compliance

Increasing Financial Resources for Implementing Global Environmental Regimes


6  Environmental Politics and Sustainable Development

North–South Relations and Sustainable Development

The Social Pillar of Sustainable Development

Economic Development and Trade

Balancing the Environmental and Sustainable Development Agendas


7  The Future of Global Environmental Politics

Global Environmental Governance in a Changing International System

The Continuing Evolution of Global Environmental Governance

Conclusion: The Prospects for Global Environmental Politics





Preface and Acknowledgments

Environmental issues affect the welfare of all humankind, both directly and through their interaction with other aspects of international politics, including economic development, trade, humanitarian actions, social development, and even security. For twenty-five years, Global Environmental Politics has sought to provide an up-to-date, accurate, and unbiased introduction to the key issues in the study and practice of international environmental politics and policy.

Like global environmental politics itself, this book has gone through significant transformations. Although its purpose remains the same, the contents of Global Environmental Politics have evolved significantly since 1991, and each new edition contains a significant amount of new material. This new edition builds directly on the sixth edition with updated discussions of key historical developments and trends in global environmental politics; the major national, institutional, and subnational actors; the factors that enhance or diminish prospects for effective policy; insights provided by the scholarly study of global environmental politics; and the development, content, remaining challenges, and potential future paths of global policies that address climate change, biodiversity, chemicals and wastes, desertification, forests, endangered species, fisheries, the stratospheric ozone layer, sustainable development, and many other issues.

The seventh edition also contains entirely new sections that examine critical developments that have occurred in global environmental politics since the sixth edition, including the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the December 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference, the historic 2013 and 2015 joint meetings of the major chemicals conventions, efforts to increase financing for environmental protection and sustainable development, and important developments in the regimes covered by the case studies in Chapter 3 and 4. We have also added new timelines and other boxes that break out key issues and significantly restructured the discussions of the intersection of environmental, economic, and social development issues. In addition to entirely new sections, we have updated each part of the book to reflect important developments in the practice and study of global environmental politics.

This book has been made possible by the inspiration, encouragement, and assistance of our colleagues at Manhattan College, Fairfield University, Columbia University, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, and the United Nations. We also want to thank our editors, Kelli Fillingim and Katie Moore, and everyone at Westview Press for their support and positive attitude throughout this process. In addition to all of our colleagues who were thanked in earlier editions of this book, we thank Nicole Cappiello and Maria Leal Giraldo for their research assistance. We are grateful to the peer reviewers and users of previous editions who provided feedback and suggestions.

Most important, David Downie thanks his family—Laura, William, and Lindsey; Bonnie and Carl Sims; Janice and Leonard Downie; Marina and Robert Whitman; and Scott, Joshua, Sarah, Malcolm, and Tracy—for their fun, patience, good humor, support, and making the good things in his life possible. Pamela Chasek thanks her family—Kimo, Sam, and Kai Goree; and Arlene and Marvin Chasek—for all of their patience, support, and love.

Pamela Chasek

David Downie

Chapter 1

The Emergence of Global Environmental Politics

Until the 1980s, most governments regarded global environmental problems as minor issues, marginal both to their core national interests and to international politics in general. Then the rise of environmental movements in industrialized countries and the appearance of well-publicized global environmental threats that affect the welfare of all humankind—such as ozone layer depletion, climate change, and dangerous declines in the world’s fisheries—awarded global environmental issues a much higher status in world politics. Today, environmental issues are globally important both in their own right and because they affect other aspects of world politics, including economic development, trade, humanitarian action, social policy, and even security.

Global concern about the environment evolved in response to expanded scientific understanding of humanity’s increasing impact on the biosphere, including the atmosphere, oceans, forests, soil cover, and a large number of animal and plant species. Many by-products of economic growth—such as the burning of fossil fuels, air and water pollution, hazardous waste, release of substances that destroy stratospheric ozone, production of toxic chemicals, increased use of natural resources, and decreasing forest cover—put cumulative stresses on the physical environment that now threaten human health and economic well-being. The realization that environmental threats have serious socioeconomic and human costs and that unilateral actions by individual countries cannot solve these problems produced increased international cooperation aimed at halting or reversing environmental degradation.

This chapter provides an introduction to global environmental politics. It highlights key economic and environmental trends, introduces and defines important concepts, and traces some of the major intellectual currents and political developments that have contributed to the evolution of global environmental politics.

Global Macrotrends

Global demographic, economic, and environmental macrotrends describe key factors that drive global environmental politics.[1] Humanity’s potential stress on the environment is to some extent a function of three key factors: population, resource consumption, and waste production. One way to measure this impact is through an ecological footprint, which measures humanity’s demands on the biosphere by comparing humanity’s consumption against the earth’s regenerative capacity, or biocapacity.[2] The ecological footprint measures the sum of all cropland, grazing land, forest, and fishing grounds required to produce the food, fiber, and timber we need and to absorb the wastes emitted. Since the 1970s, humanity’s annual demand on the natural world has exceeded what the earth can renew in a year. This ecological overshoot was at a 50 percent deficit in 2010.[3] This means that it now takes natural systems about 1.5 years to regenerate the renewable resources that we use and absorb the waste we produce in a year, and it could reach three years by 2050 in a business-as-usual scenario.[4]

Population Growth and Resource Consumption

Population growth affects the environment by increasing the demand for resources (including energy, water, food, and wood), the production of waste, and the emission of pollution. These relationships are not fixed, however, and most of the negative impacts result from how we carry out certain activities. Nevertheless, given the dominant economic and social patterns that have existed since the Industrial Revolution, the rapid growth of human population over the last one hundred years has significantly influenced the environment and will continue to do so throughout this century.

In 1900, global population stood at approximately 1.6 billion. Today it is more than 7.3 billion. It took fifty years for global population to go from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 2.5 billion in 1950. It then took only thirty-seven years for it to double, reaching 5 billion in 1987. It passed the 6-billion mark only twelve years later, reached 7 billion in late 2011, and is on pace to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050, and 11.2 billion by 2100[5] (see Figure 1.1).

Figure 1.1 World Population Growth 1950–2050  (Projected) Source: “World Population,” United States Census Bureau, /international/data/worldpop/table_population.php.

Figure 1.1 World Population Growth 1950–2050 (Projected)
Source: “World Population,” United States Census Bureau,

Projections of future population growth depend on fertility trends, which can be affected by economic development, education, widespread disease, and certain population-related policies. The world’s human population is currently growing at a rate of 1.18 percent annually.[6] Although significantly less than the peak growth rate of 2.04 percent from 1965 to 1970, this still means a net addition of eighty-three million people per year.[7] Most of this growth, as much as 92 percent,[8] will occur in Africa and Asia. China and India alone already account for 37 percent of the world’s population. Moreover, the population in the forty-eight least-developed countries is projected to grow dramatically, from 954 million in 2015 to 1.9 billion in 2050 and 3.2 billion in 2100.[9] Population increases have been accompanied by large increases in the consumption of natural resources, including fresh water, forests, topsoil, fish stocks, and fossil fuels. In addition, per capita consumption of natural resources has been rising much faster than population growth. For example, private consumption expenditures (the amount households spend on goods and services) increased more than fourfold from 1960 to 2000, even though the global population only doubled during this period.[10] This increase is positive in that it reflects growth in the standard of living for billions of people. At the same time, the aggregate human consumption of natural resources has largely passed sustainable rates.[11]

As more developing countries pursue the lifestyles of North America, Japan, and Europe, the future will likely bring higher per capita rates of consumption unless resources are both consumed more efficiently and recycled more effectively. For example, the population of middle-income countries (including many of the world’s emerging economies, such as Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, and South Africa) has more than doubled since 1961, while the ecological footprint per person has increased by 65 percent.[12] The United Nations (UN) estimates that the global middle class will grow from 2 billion today to 4.9 billion by 2030, with consequently large increases in demands for energy, food, water, and material goods.[13]

Despite large increases in the consumer class in a number of developing countries, the gulf in consumption levels within and among countries continues to draw attention. High-income countries, such as the United States, have an ecological footprint per capita that is roughly four times that of middle-income countries and five times that of low-income countries.[14] The 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe accounts for nearly 60 percent of private consumption spending, whereas the 33 percent of the population that lives in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only about 3.2 percent.[15] The United States has had more private cars than licensed drivers since the 1970s, and the average size of new, single-family houses in the United States has grown by more than 60 percent since 1973[16] despite a decrease in the average number of people per household.[17] If everyone consumed resources at the level Americans do, it would take the planet 3.9 years to regenerate the renewable resources used and absorb the wastes produced.[18]

At the other end of the spectrum, nearly 1.2 billion people—one out of five—live on less than $1.25 a day, and 2.5 billion people live without basic sanitation, the overwhelming majority of whom live in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.[19] A 2014 study estimated that 1.8 billion people drink water contaminated by human or animal waste and even more drink water delivered through systems that lack adequate protections against sanitary hazards.[20]

Today, the world’s richest countries use on average eleven times more energy than the poorest ones; the richest comprise only 18 percent of the world’s population but use nearly 40 percent of the world’s energy (see Figure 1.2). The United States, with less than 5 percent of the global population, uses about 25 percent of the world’s fossil-­fuel resources—coal, oil, and natural gas.[21] Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for about 13 percent of global population but only 4 percent of global energy demand.[22] The average American consumes 3.5 times more energy than the average global citizen, 3.3 times more than the average Chinese, and 11 times more than the average Indian (and the vast majority of this energy still comes from burning fossil fuels).[23] Approximately 590 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and 300 million people in India live almost entirely without access to electricity.[24]

Figure 1.2 Global Energy Use, 2013Key World Energy Statistics 2015 (Paris: International Energy Agency, 2015), 30,

Figure 1.2 Global Energy Use, 2013
Note: The term bunkers refers to international aviation and international marine fuel depots, which are not included in a specific country’s energy use statistics (or greenhouse gas emissions statistics).
Source: International Energy Agency, Key World Energy Statistics 2015 (Paris: International Energy Agency, 2015), 30, publication/KeyWorld_Statistics_2015.pdf.

However, energy consumption in developing countries is increasing, driven by industrial expansion, infrastructure improvement, population growth, urbanization, and rising incomes (see Table 1.1). In 1980, China and India together accounted for less than 8 percent of the world’s total energy consumption; by 2014 their combined share had grown to 28 percent.[25] In contrast, the US share of total world energy consumption contracted from 22 percent in 2005 to 16 percent in 2014, largely due to improved energy efficiency.[26]

Table 1.1 Projected World Energy Consumption (Quadrillion BTU) by Country Grouping, 2010–2040Source: US Energy Information Administration (EIA), International Energy Outlook 2013 (Washington, DC: EIA, 2013), 9,

Table 1.1 Projected World Energy Consumption (Quadrillion BTU) by Country Grouping, 2010–2040
Source: US Energy Information Administration (EIA), International Energy Outlook 2013 (Washington, DC: EIA, 2013), 9,

Natural Resources and Pollution

Perhaps the largest aggregate impact that humans have on the biosphere is their carbon footprint (see Box 1.1), which has grown more than tenfold since 1960. The United States and China have the largest total national carbon footprints, with China emitting 27 percent of global carbon emissions, followed by the United States with 14 percent.[27] In 2013, the United States emitted about twice as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as the entire continent of Africa.[28] China has a much smaller per capita footprint than the United States (6.2 tons per person in 2010 versus 17.6 tons in the United States,[29] although China’s footprint has increased since then), but its population is more than four times as large. India accounts for about 9 percent of global CO2 emissions, and its national carbon footprint is the third largest, but its per capita footprint is only about 1.6 tons per person.[30]


A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on climate change. Many of our daily activities cause emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). For example, we produce GHG emissions from burning gasoline when we drive, burning oil or gas for home heating, or using electricity generated from coal, natural gas, and oil. Th ese are considered to be the primary footprint—the sum of direct emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels for energy consumption and transportation. More fuel-efficient cars have a smaller primary footprint, as do energy- efficient light bulbs.

The secondary footprint is the sum of indirect emissions of GHGs during the lifecycle of products used by an individual or organization. For example, the GHGs emitted during the production of plastic for water bottles, as well as the energy used to transport the water, contribute to the secondary footprint. Products with more packaging will generally have a larger secondary footprint than products with a minimal amount of packaging.

Source: Maggie L. Walser, “Carbon Footprint,” in Encyclopedia of Earth, ed. Cutler J.Cleveland, first published July 14, 2010, last revised April 5, 2013,

However, an energy sector transition is underway in many parts of the world, leading to an increase in the use of renewable energy. In 2014, renewables became the second largest source of electricity, behind coal. Energy efficiency improvements also helped to restrain the growth of energy demand in 2014 to just one-third of the level it otherwise would have been. According to International Energy Agency projections, energy demand is expected to grow at 1 percent per year to 2040, about half the average annual rate since 1990, due to increased energy efficiency in end uses and structural changes to the economy. CO2 emissions from power generation are expected to grow at only one-fifth of the rate at which power output will increase between now and 2040, breaking the long-standing one-for-one relationship.[31]

Despite positive progress, efforts are not yet enough to move the world onto a pathway consistent with the 2°C climate goal (see Chapter 3). The years 2011–2015 have been the warmest five-year period on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization, and 2015 was the warmest year for which observational records exist.[32] If present rates continue, global temperatures will rise by at least 2°C by the end of the century.[33]

The world’s freshwater resources are also under serious stress. Increased water consumption, rising population, and climate change mean that about 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with areas classified as having high levels of threat to water security.[34] About 3.4 billion people live in regions with absolute water scarcity.[35] Agricultural water use, mainly crop irrigation, accounts for about 70 percent of total global consumption and about 90 percent in developing countries, and estimates predict that global agricultural water demand will increase by 20 percent by the year 2050.[36] Industrial use accounts for about 20 percent of total water use and domestic uses for 10 percent.[37] The need to withdraw freshwater from surface and underground sources (e.g., lakes, rivers, reservoirs, aquifers, and wells) is expected to increase by more than 50 percent by 2050, with the bulk of the increase coming from developing countries.[38]

The convergence of population growth, rising demand for lumber and fuelwood, and the conversion of forests to agriculture have also put increasing pressure on the world’s forests, especially in developing countries. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the world contained about five billion hectares of forested area; now fewer than four billion hectares remain.[39] Between 2000 and 2012, 2.3 million square kilometers of tree cover disappeared.[40] From 2010 through 2015, a net of about 6.6 million hectares of natural forests were lost annually.[41] Deforestation, in turn, has contributed to significant GHG emissions and the loss of biodiversity (the variety of living things), including the extinction of species and the loss of genetic diversity within species. Scientists began warning in the 1980s that the destruction of tropical forests, which hold an estimated 50 to 90 percent of all species, could result in the loss of one-fourth to one-half of the world’s species within a few decades.

Biodiversity is not confined to the tropical forests, however, and humans are dramatically transforming virtually all of Earth’s ecosystems. Despite the growing number of nature reserves, national parks, and other protected areas, including the addition of more than 6.1 million square kilometers since 2010, an amount roughly the size of Australia,[42] a recent UN report concluded that half of the world’s richest biodiversity zones remain entirely unprotected.[43] The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (see Box 1.2) estimated that between 10 and 50 percent of species are currently threatened with extinction, including 12 percent of bird species, 23 percent of mammal species, and 25 percent of conifer species (cone-bearing trees).[44]


The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment examined the health of the world’s ecosystems and the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being. Sponsored by the UN and other international organizations, the assessment involved the work of more than 1,360 experts worldwide who conducted comprehensive reviews of current knowledge, scientifi c literature, and fi eld data. Their findings, contained in fi ve technical volumes and six synthesis reports, provide a state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide (such as clean water, food, forest products, flood control, and natural resources) and the options to restore, conserve, or enhance the sustainable use of ecosystems.

The core findings of the assessment are that human actions are rapidly depleting Earth’s natural resources and putting such strain on the environment that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted. At the same time, the assessment shows that with appropriate actions it is possible to reverse the degradation of many ecosystem services over the next fifty years, but the changes in policy and practice required are substantial and not currently underway.

The research was conducted from 2001 to 2005 and represents the most recent, globally comprehensive report of its kind. Assessment reports and information on its findings, history, operation, participants, and use by scientists and policymakers can be found on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment website,

Many of the world’s major fisheries are overfished or on the verge of collapse. The declining marine catch in many areas, the increased percentage of overexploited fish stocks, and the decreased proportion of non–fully exploited species provide strong evidence that the state of world marine fisheries is worsening.[45] Because the waters and biological resources of the high seas belong to no nation, it is not surprising that overfishing has become a serious problem. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) reports that “61 percent of commercially important assessed marine fish stocks worldwide are fully fished, 29 percent are overfished [and] about 90 percent of large predatory fish stocks are already depleted.”[46] Nearly 30 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks are considered overexploited or fished at biologically unsustainable levels.[47] Staples such as tuna, swordfish, Atlantic salmon, and even cod could soon be on the endangered list, crippling the economies they support (fishing provides some two hundred million jobs worldwide).[48] In addition, inefficient fishing practices waste a high percentage of each year’s catch and cause severe environmental damage.[49] About twenty million metric tons of bycatch (unintentionally caught fish, seabirds, sea turtles, marine mammals, and other ocean life) die every year when they are carelessly swept up and discarded by commercial fishing operations.[50]

Marine environments are also under siege from land-based sources of marine pollution, believed to account for nearly 80 percent of the total pollution of the oceans. The major land-based pollutants are synthetic organic compounds; excess sedimentation from mining, deforestation, or agriculture; biological contaminants in sewage; and excessive nutrients from fertilizers and sewage. Large quantities of plastic and other debris can be found in the most remote parts of the world’s oceans. Plastic persists almost indefinitely in the environment and has a significant impact on marine and coastal biodiversity.[51] A study published in 2016 reported that, if present rates continue, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the world’s oceans than fish (by weight).[52]

Photo 1.1 Wetlands provide habitat for a wide variety and large number of wildlife species, including the great blue heron. Courtesy Pamela Chasek.

Photo 1.1 Wetlands provide habitat for a wide variety and large number of wildlife species, including the great blue heron.
Courtesy Pamela Chasek.

Human impacts on wetlands are also increasing. Wetlands cover about thirteen million square kilometers worldwide.[53] Different types of wetlands serve as important sources of drinking water, fish nurseries, natural irrigation for agriculture, water cleansing systems, protection against floods and storms, and natural sinks for CO2. In the United States alone, wetlands provide approximately $23 billion worth of coastal area storm protection.[54] Wetlands are also some of the most important biologically diverse areas in the world, providing essential habitats for many species. Despite an international treaty, the Ramsar Convention, dedicated to their protection, wetlands are increasingly filled in or otherwise destroyed to make way for buildings and farms or damaged by unsustainable water use and pollution. Studies conclude that between 64 and 71 percent of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed in the last hundred years and only 20 percent of the remaining wetlands lie within protected areas.[55] Given their ecological and economic importance, an influential 2012 report concluded: “There is an urgent need to put wetlands and water-related ecosystem services at the heart of water management in order to meet the social, economic and environmental needs of a global population predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050.”[56]

Land degradation, water shortages, increasing demands for food, and other factors are combining to create negative feedbacks. Most of the unforested land available to meet current and future food requirements is already in production. Further expansion will involve fragile, marginal, and currently forested lands. As land becomes increasingly scarce, farmers face incentives to turn to intensive agriculture, including the use of dramatically higher levels of irrigation and chemicals. This, in turn, can contribute to soil erosion and salinization, deteriorating water quality, and land degradation.

Economic growth, expanding populations, rising demand, changing diets, urbanization, changes in weather patterns possibly linked to climate change, the use of food crops for biofuel, and certain agriculture policies, including subsidies in developed countries, are combining to raise food prices and increase the number of people vulnerable to starvation, severe hunger, and malnutrition. The FAO estimates that 805 million people, including 791 million in developing countries, live with undernourishment—an inability to take in enough calories over at least one year to meet dietary energy requirements.[57] Global food production must increase by 60 percent by 2050 just to meet increased demands due to population increases.[58] This includes the increasing demand for meat and fish among the growing number of middle-class consumers in China, India, and other developing countries (although per capita meat and fish consumption in these countries remains far below that in Australia, Europe, Japan, and North America). Because it takes many pounds of feed to produce a pound of animal meat or aquaculture fish, grains as feed for animals use a significant amount of resources and raise prices.[59] Meat production is also extremely water intensive. The production of one kilogram of beef requires an average of fifteen thousand liters of water compared with fifteen hundred liters of water needed to produce one kilogram of grain.[60] Food production costs have also increased in many areas, including the cost of seeds (partly because of patents and other intellectual property rights), fuel (for machinery and vehicles), fertilizers, pesticides, water, land, and labor. Weather variability, including from climate change, has also affected international food supply and prices.[61] Prominent examples include the historic heat waves, droughts (especially in California[62] and Australia), and storms in Australia, Brazil, Russia, the United States, and other critical food production areas over the last decade.

Biofuel production is another important factor. Biofuels are liquid renewable fuels such as ethanol (an alcohol fermented from plant materials) and biodiesel (a fuel made from vegetable oils or animal fats) that can substitute for petroleum-­based fuels. Although potential future biofuels made from algae, seaweed, or plant waste would have significant economic and ecological benefits, the production of many current biofuels requires significant amounts of pesticides, fertilizer, water, and energy, and many experts do not consider them environmentally benign.[63] Manufacturing most of the biofuels currently in use also shifts valuable resources (e.g., land, water, labor, capital) away from the production of food crops into the production of feedstock for biofuels. For example, in 2012, about 31 percent (about 3,465 million bushels) of US corn was used in the production of ethanol.[64] Diverting land and corn from growing food for people or animals raises corn prices in global markets.[65]

Environmental quality in many urban areas continues to be a major problem, and the situation could worsen. Although cities provide significant economies of scale for environmentally friendly technology and practices, under current conditions in many parts of the world, increasing urbanization implies heavier water and air pollution and higher rates of natural resource consumption. Air pollution in many major urban areas is already at harmful levels, responsible for more than one million deaths a year,[66] and it continues to worsen in many urban areas in Asia and Africa. Hundreds of millions living in poverty in urban areas lack consistent access to clean water or electricity. Municipal waste systems in many cities cannot keep pace with urban expansion.[67] Although conditions have improved in some areas, an estimated 863 million people were living in slums in 2014, up from 776.7 million in 2000.[68]

It was only in 2008 that the world’s urban population surpassed the rural population. By 2050, about 66 percent of the world’s population, about 6.3 billion ­people, is expected to live in urban areas, a large increase from the 3.6 billion in 2011.[69] The number of cities with at least ten million inhabitants is projected to rise from twenty-eight in 2014 to at least forty-one in 2030[70] (see Table 1.2). The largest increases in urban populations are expected in the world’s two poorest regions, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where populations are projected to double within twenty years.[71]

Table 1.2 The World’s Twenty Largest Megacities, 2014Source: UN, World Urbanization Prospects 2014 (New York: UN, 2015), 93.

Table 1.2 The World’s Twenty Largest Megacities, 2014
Source: UN, World Urbanization Prospects 2014 (New York: UN, 2015), 93.

The trends described in this section are some of the most important forces that shape global environmental politics. They have resulted from the intense economic development, rapid population growth, inefficient production, and unsustainable resource consumption prevalent in many parts of the world. This is not to say that population growth and economic development are necessarily harmful. Indeed, most would argue they are not. Rather, it is the manner in which much of this economic development occurred, one characterized by high levels of resource consumption and pollution, that produced these troubling changes in the global environment.

An Introduction to Global Environmental Politics

Environmental problems do not respect national boundaries. Transboundary air pollution, the degradation of shared rivers, and the pollution of oceans and seas are just a few examples of the international dimensions of environmental problems. The cumulative impact that human beings have on the planet, together with an increased understanding of ecological processes, means that the environment cannot be viewed as a relatively stable background factor. The interactions between economic development and the complex, often fragile ecosystems on which that development depends have become major international political and economic issues.

The sources, consequences, and actors involved in an environmental issue can be local, national, regional, or global. If the sources or consequences are global, or transcend more than one international region, or the actors involved in creating or addressing the problem transcend more than one region, then we consider the activity and its consequences to be a global environmental issue.[72] The main actors in international environmental politics are states (national governments), international organizations, environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), corporations and industry groups, scientific bodies, and important individuals (see Chapter 2).

Global environmental issues can be analyzed in many ways. From the economist’s point of view, environmental problems represent negative externalities—the unintended consequences or side effects of one’s actions that are borne by others (and for which no compensation is paid). Externalities have always existed, but when the use of helpful but polluting technologies—such as coal-fired power plants, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and plastics—expanded rapidly, the externalities they produced became serious global issues.

In this sense, the negative externalities that lead to environmental degradation are similar to the “tragedy of the commons.” The ecologist Garrett Hardin observed that overgrazing unrestricted common lands, prior to their enclosure, was a metaphor for the overexploitation of Earth’s common property: land, air, and water resources.[73] The root cause of overgrazing was the absence of a method for obliging herders to take into account the harmful effects that their own herds’ grazing had on the other herders who shared the common land. Hardin recognized that air, water, and many other environmental resources, unlike the traditional commons, could not readily be fenced and parceled out to private owners who would be motivated to preserve them. Without sufficient knowledge or structures to restrain them, people (or states) will logically pursue their interest in utilizing the earth’s common resources until they are destroyed, resulting in the tragedy of the commons. How to address externalities and the damage they inflict on environmental resources that, by their very nature, no one can own is a central challenge in global environmental politics.

Oran Young, a political scientist, groups international environmental problems into four broad clusters: commons, shared natural resources, transboundary externalities, and linked issues.[74] Young describes the commons as the natural resources and vital life-support services that belong to all humankind rather than to any one country. These include Antarctica, the high seas, deep seabed minerals, the stratospheric ozone layer, the global climate system, and outer space. They may be geographically limited, as in Antarctica, or global in scope, such as the ozone layer and climate system. Shared natural resources are physical or biological systems that extend into or across the jurisdiction of two or more states. These include nonrenewable resources, such as pools of oil beneath the earth’s surface; renewable resources, such as migratory species of animals; and complex ecosystems that transcend national boundaries, such as regional seas and river basins.

Transboundary externalities result from activities that occur within the jurisdiction of individual states but produce results affecting the environment or people in other states. Transboundary externalities include the consequences of environmental accidents, such as the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the former Soviet Union or the accident in 2000 at a gold-processing plant in Romania that released cyanide and heavy metals into a river system, killing fish and contaminating drinking water in parts of Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Serbia. Transboundary externalities can also include transnational air pollution or the loss of biological diversity, caused in part by the destruction of tropical forests, which leads to species extinction as well as reduced potential for developing new pharmaceuticals. Linked issues refers to cases where efforts to deal with environmental concerns have unintended consequences affecting other issues and vice versa. The most common linked issues involve efforts to protect the environment and efforts to promote economic development or trade.

Different combinations of factors, including internal economic and political forces, foreign policy goals, and the impact of international organizations, NGOs, and corporations, can influence a state’s policy preferences on different environmental issues (see Chapter 2). Because the actual costs and risks of environmental degradation are never distributed equally among states, some governments are less motivated than others to participate in international efforts to reduce environmental threats. States often possess different views about what constitutes an equitable solution to a particular environmental problem. Yet, despite their disparate interests, in order to address most international environmental issues, states must strive for consensus, at least among those that significantly contribute to, and are significantly affected by, a given environmental problem.

Consequently, an important characteristic of global environmental politics is the significance of veto power. For every global environmental issue, there exist one or more states whose cooperation is so essential to a successful agreement for coping with the problem that these states have the potential to block strong international action. When these states oppose an agreement or try to weaken it significantly, they become veto (or blocking) states and form veto coalitions.

The role of veto coalitions is central to the dynamics of bargaining and negotiation in global environmental politics. On the issue of a whaling moratorium, for example, four states, led by Japan, accounted for three-fourths of the whaling catch worldwide; they could therefore make or break the effectiveness of a global regime to save the whales. Similarly, the major grain exporters (Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, the United States, and Uruguay) were in position to block the initial attempts to reach consensus on a biosafety protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for fear that the proposed provisions on trade in genetically modified crops were too stringent and would hamper grain exports (see Chapter 4).

Veto power is so important that powerful states are not free to impose a global environmental agreement on much less powerful states if the latter are strongly opposed to it and critical to the agreement’s success. For example, industrialized countries could not pressure tropical-forest countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia to accept a binding agreement on the world’s forests during the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED; see Chapter 4). Comparatively weaker states can also use veto power to demand compensation and other forms of favorable treatment. This occurred during the expansion of the ozone-layer regime, when India and China led a coalition of developing countries that successfully demanded a financial mechanism that would provide resources to assist them in meeting the higher costs of using new non-ozone-depleting chemicals (see Chapter 3). Nevertheless, although some developing states can prevent an agreement or bargain for special treatment on some environmental issues, in general the major economic powers wield greater leverage because of their larger role in global production and consumption and their ability to provide or deny funding for a particular regime.

A related characteristic of global environmental politics is that the political dynamics within an issue area also often reflect issues involving international trade. The issue of international hazardous waste trading, for instance, is shaped by the relationship between the industrialized countries that seek to export waste as well as materials for recycling and the developing countries that are potential importers. Trade relations between tropical timber exporters and consuming nations are critical to the dynamics of tropical deforestation. Sometimes the trade patterns are so significant that they provide the producing/exporting countries or the importing countries with veto power.

Economic power, interests, and trade dynamics certainly affect state preferences, negotiating positions, and the outcome of bargaining on particular issues. Military power, however, is not particularly useful for influencing such outcomes. A country’s ability to give or withhold economic benefits, such as access to markets or economic assistance, can persuade states dependent on those benefits to go along with that power’s policy if the benefits are more important than the issue at stake in the negotiations. Thus, Japan and the Republic of Korea accepted international agreements on drift-net fishing and whaling because they feared loss of access to US markets. And Japan succeeded in ensuring the support of some small nonwhaling nations for its pro-whaling position by offering assistance to their fishing industries (see Chapter 4).

Although states are the most important actors, another characteristic of global environmental politics is that public opinion and environmental NGOs can also affect the creation, content, or implementation of international environmental policy. Public opinion, channeled through electoral politics and NGOs into national negotiating positions in key countries, has influenced certain aspects of the global bargaining on whaling, endangered species, hazardous wastes, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and ozone depletion. NGOs have also provided important input to global negotiations and have been integral parts of some implementation strategies (see Chapter 2).

Photo 1.2 Public opinion can play an important role in global environmental politics.Courtesy Kiara Worth, IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin,

Photo 1.2 Public opinion can play an important role in global environmental politics.
Courtesy Kiara Worth, IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin,

Different types of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs)—including large UN agencies, global and regional financial institutions, scientific organizations, and specialized agencies—play a variety of roles in global environmental politics. These roles include agenda setting, providing independent and authoritative information, helping to develop norms or codes of conduct (soft law) to guide action in particular environmental issue areas, convening and managing formal treaty negotiations, helping to implement global environmental treaties, providing funds, and influencing the environmental and development policies of particular countries (see Chapter 2).

Another set of critical venues for policy development are the large global conferences convened by the UN (see Box 1.3 and Chapter 6). The first of these conferences, the historic 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, was responsible for placing global environmental concerns on the international agenda and set the stage for the creation of new international norms for environmental issues. The foundation of the conference was the growing realization that “many of the causes and effects of environmental problems are global: this is, beyond the jurisdiction and sovereignty of any nation-state. . . .Global frameworks and other institutions are necessary in order to help organize and coordinate international action.”[75] Stockholm also marked the beginning of an explosive increase in NGOs and IGOs dedicated to environmental preservation, with an estimated hundred thousand such organizations formed in the subsequent twenty years.[76]


Earth Summit Series

1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference; Stockholm, Sweden)

1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, South Africa)

2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)


2000 UN Millennium Summit (UN Headquarters, New York)

2015 UN Sustainable Development Summit (UN Headquarters, New York)

Twenty years later, in 1992, governments gathered for UNCED, often called the Earth Summit. In addition to adopting a global action program, Agenda 21 (referring to the twenty-first century), UNCED also produced two nonbinding sets of principles that shaped future developments—the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Statement of Forest Principles.[77] Two major global treaties, the climate and biodiversity conventions, were negotiated independently of the UNCED process but on parallel tracks and officially adopted at the Earth Summit. They are often called the Rio Conventions. The Earth Summit launched a significant expansion of international environmental policy and treaty regimes. Over the next twenty-five years, new or strengthened conventions, protocols, and policy agreements emerged on climate change, biodiversity, desertification, mercury, POPs, biosafety, access to and benefit sharing of genetic resources, forests, and ozone depletion (see Chapters 3 and 4). Two additional global environmental conferences were held, one in 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the second in 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, which served to maintain attention on important issues and ideas in global environmental politics (see Chapter 6).

Perhaps the most critical venues for global environmental politics are the conferences and related meetings convened to negotiate, expand, and implement environmental policies in specific issues areas, including legally binding agreements (see Box 1.4). Government representatives gather on a regular basis to examine and perhaps improve global policy to address biodiversity, climate change, endangered species, fisheries, forests, hazardous waste, ocean pollution, stratospheric ozone, toxic chemicals, wetlands, whales, and other issues. Preparing for and implementing the results of these conferences can also influence elements of domestic environmental and even development policy. It is important, however, not to focus solely on the negotiations that create a particular treaty, as doing so can obscure the evolving constellation of binding rules, normative principles, institutions, operating procedures, review mechanisms, and implementation activities that compose environmental policy in a given issue area. Understanding global environmental politics, including environmental treaties and treaty conferences, requires understanding international regimes.


1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance

1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London Convention)

1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)

1976 Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution

1979 Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

1985 Vienna Convention for Protection of the Ozone Layer

1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances Th at Deplete the Ozone Layer

1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal

1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

1994 UN Convention to Combat Desertifi cation (UNCCD)

1997 Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

1998 Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade

2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity

2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

2001 International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

2010 Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefi ts Arising from Their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity

2013 Minamata Convention on Mercury

2015 Paris Agreement to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

International Regimes in Global Environmental Politics

International regime is the name given by scholars (and now some practitioners) of international policy to a system of principles, norms, rules, operating procedures, and institutions that actors create to regulate and coordinate action in a particular issue area of international relations. Principles are beliefs of fact, causation, and rectitude. Norms are standards of behavior. Rules are specific prescriptions or proscriptions for action. Operating procedures are prevailing practices for work within the regime, including methods for making and implementing collective choice. Institutions are mechanisms and organizations for implementing, operating, evaluating, and expanding the regime and its policy.[78]

Regimes are essentially international policy, regulatory, and administrative systems. A regime usually centers on one or more formal international agreements, but key elements can also include the relevant actions of important international organizations, parts of other interrelated international agreements, and accepted norms of international behavior among actors active in the issue area (including governments, international organizations, NGOs, multinational corporations, and others). These elements together form the entire suite of principles, norms, rules, and procedures that seek to govern and guide behavior on the particular issue.

Regimes of varying strength and effectiveness are found in most areas of international relations, including trade, finance, environment, human rights, communications, travel, and even security. As a result, regimes receive a good deal of theoretical and empirical attention from scholars of international relations, and this represents an important development in the study of international ­cooperation—especially into how, why, and under what circumstances states attempt to cooperate or create international institutions and what factors influence the success of such attempts.[79]

One important line of progenitor theories is marked by concern for the impact and mitigation of structural anarchy, especially the difficulty of establishing international cooperation.[80] (Anarchy in this usage does not mean chaos but the absence of hierarchy, specifically the lack of world government or other formal hierarchical structures to govern international politics.) A second line flows both from constitutionalist scholars who study treaties and the formal structure of international organizations, and from researchers employing the institutional process approach, which concentrates on examining how an organization’s day-to-day practices, processes, and methods of operation influence outcomes.[81]

A third line of antecedents starts with the premise that despite structural anarchy, extensive common interests exist among states and their people and that scholars and statesmen must learn how these interests can be realized. Present in eighteenth-century enlightened optimism, nineteenth-century liberalism, and twentieth-­century Wilsonian idealism, this view influenced in the 1970s a branch of legal and political scholarship concerned with world order and international law that argued that custom, patterned interaction and the needs and wants of civilian populations are important sources of international law and require the respect of states.[82]

Functionalism represents a fourth important line of predecessors. Functionalism, often associated with the work of David Mitrany, argues that the scholarly and political focus of international cooperation must center not on formal interstate politics but rather on providing opportunities for technical (nonpolitical) cooperation among specialists and specialized organizations to solve common problems.[83] Functionalists argue that such technical cooperation can begin a process in which increasing interdependence and spillover (technical management in one area begetting technical management in another) will present opportunities for organizing more and more government functions internationally and technically rather than nationally and politically—a process that will slowly erode or bypass domestic regulators in favor of peaceful global institutions.

Although attractively optimistic, functionalism proved inadequate to explain the totality of actions and outcomes in international relations in which states do not want to relinquish control and technological determinism did not respond automatically to most aspects of increasing interdependence. However, functionalist insights did influence several important theoretical approaches.[84]

Neofunctional integration theory critiqued and extended functionalism, arguing that gradual, regional integration is most important for understanding and creating effective international governance.[85] This approach also lost favor, particularly when Ernst Haas, formerly a leading proponent, argued that focusing exclusively on regional encapsulation had become inadequate for addressing new, turbulent issue areas of international relations characterized by high degrees of complexity, interdependence, and competing national interests, which we now know include environmental issues. Haas argued that the interplay of knowledge, learning, and politics is critical to understanding and managing such issue areas as well as the conduct and adaptability of international organizations created to address them.[86]

Research on transnational relations, which are nongovernmental interconnections and interactions across national boundaries, argued similarly that interdependence can fracture international politics into distinct issue areas and that states are neither the only important actors in international politics nor even totally coherent actors.[87] These insights culminated in complex interdependence, proposed by Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye as an alternative to realism as a paradigm for understanding international relations.[88]

The study of regimes resulted from these lines of inquiry. If international relations are increasingly interdependent, influenced by new types of actors and interactions, and fractured into issue areas across which power and interests vary, then how actors choose to manage these issue areas—the regimes they create to manage them—becomes important to the conduct and study of international politics.

States and other actors create regimes through multilateral negotiations. Negotiations take place when at least some states consider the status quo unacceptable or that negative consequences and high costs will occur if existing trends continue. Although reaching agreement on how to manage the problem is in a state’s best interest, so is gaining as much as possible while giving up as little as possible. Nevertheless, the expected value of the outcome to each state, and hence the total value of the outcome, must be positive (or at least neutral), or else there would be no incentive to negotiate or to accept the outcome. In multilateral negotiations, states will not come to an agreement unless they believe they will be better off in some way than they would be with no agreement.[89]

Most regimes center on a binding agreement or legal instrument. For global environmental problems, the most common kind of legal instrument is a convention. A convention may contain all of the binding obligations expected to be negotiated, or it may be followed by a more detailed legal instrument, often called a protocol, which elaborates more specific norms and rules. Because the members of most international regimes are states, regime rules apply to the actions of states. These governments then assume responsibility for ensuring that companies and other actors within their jurisdiction change their behavior to the extent necessary for the country as a whole to be in compliance with the rules of the regime.

If a convention is negotiated in anticipation that parties will negotiate one or more subsequent elaborating texts, it is called a framework convention. Framework conventions usually establish a set of general principles, norms, and goals for cooperation on the issue as well as how members of the regimes will meet and make decisions. The latter usually takes the form of a regular Conference of the Parties, an annual, biannual, or otherwise regularly scheduled gathering of all parties to the convention as well as interested observers (observers often include representatives from nonparty states, international organizations, NGOs, and industry groups). Framework conventions usually do not impose major binding obligations on the parties. A framework convention is then followed by the negotiation of one or more protocols, which spell out specific obligations on the overall issue in question or on narrower subissues.

A nonbinding agreement can form the centerpiece of a regime to the extent that it establishes norms that influence state behavior. This type of agreement is often referred to as soft law. Nonbinding agreements, codes of conduct, and guidelines for behavior exist for a number of global environmental problems, including land-based sources of marine pollution and sustainable forest management, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Some consider Agenda 21, the plan of action adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 (see Chapter 6) as soft-law umbrella regimes for worldwide sustainable development because they outline goals and broad norms of behavior that countries have agreed to regarding a wide range of environmental and development issues. Although nonbinding agreements can influence state behavior to some extent, regimes based on legal instruments are usually more effective. That is why some countries become dissatisfied with a given nonbinding code of conduct or other soft-law mechanism and advocate for creating a legally binding agreement.

Global Environmental Regimes

Today, regimes exist on a wide variety of global environmental issues, from whale protection to climate change to hazardous wastes. Chapters 3 and 4 describe the development of and the challenges faced by some key global regimes. As these cases demonstrate, global environmental regimes can vary significantly in their history, purpose, rules, strength, and effectiveness.

Environmental regimes change over time, often expanding and becoming stronger but sometimes weakening or changing in scope. The whaling regime was created in 1946 to perpetuate commercial whaling by establishing international regulation, but it evolved into a ban on commercial whaling in 1985 (see Chapter 4). The regime that seeks to control marine oil pollution began with the 1954 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, which established rules only for ships within fifty miles (eighty kilometers) of the nearest coast, allowing for significant and deliberate oil spillage outside this area.[90] This led some states in 1973 to create the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, also known as MARPOL or the Maritime Pollution Convention, which limits oil discharges at sea, prohibits them in certain sensitive zones, and sets minimum distances from land for the discharge of other pollutants. However, shipping interests in crucial maritime states opposed MARPOL so strongly that it did not enter into force until a decade later. States also negotiated the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London Convention, 1972), which prohibited the dumping of specific substances, including high-level radioactive wastes, and required permits for others. It was the first marine-pollution agreement to accept the right of coastal states to enforce prohibitions against pollution and became an important forum for negotiating further controls on ocean dumping.

In another example of regime evolution, until the 1970s virtually all wildlife conservation treaties lacked binding legal commitments and, perhaps consequently, were ineffective in protecting migratory birds and other species. This changed when states adopted the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES; see Chapter 4). It set up a system of trade sanctions and a worldwide reporting network to curb the traffic in endangered species and thus, by eliminating the market, to reduce the incentive to capture, kill, or harvest endangered plants and animals. Although effective in many instances, CITES also contains loopholes that allow states with interests in a particular species to opt out of the controls on it.

Many regimes are strengthened as efforts shift from creating an initial framework convention to negotiating and implementing specific protocols. For example, the regional regime controlling cross-border acid rain and air pollution in Europe began with the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, which did not commit signatories to specific emissions reductions. States later strengthened the regime by adding eight protocols that financed the monitoring and evaluation of long-range air pollutants in Europe (1984) and mandated efforts to reduce sulfur emissions (1985 and 1994), nitrogen oxides (1988), volatile organic compounds (1991), heavy metals (1998), POPs (1998), and acidification and ground-level ozone (1999). The heavy metals and POPs agreements also represented significant expansions of the core mandate established by the original convention.

The ozone regime also began with a framework convention (see Chapter 3). The 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer did not require countries to control the chemicals that threaten stratospheric ozone; in fact it did not even mention these substances by name. The 1987 Montreal Protocol then required actual reductions in certain halons and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the most prominent ozone-depleting substances (ODS). Then, in the late 1980s and 1990s, significant advances in scientific understanding of the threat, the discovery of alternative chemicals, and the use of innovative regime rules allowed governments to reach a series of agreements that now mandate the near complete phaseout of all ODS. As a result, the production of CFCs and most other ODS has been eliminated.

The agreement that created the climate regime, the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC; see Chapter 3), also failed to impose binding targets and timetables for GHG emissions. It did call on industrialized countries to return emissions to 1990 levels but stated this as a nonbinding goal. Only with the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 did industrialized countries agree to even modest reductions in their GHG emissions.

Some treaties and regimes, like the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Montreal Protocol, have very clear, binding controls (see Chapter 3); others do not. The 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD; see Chapter 4), for example, does not obligate parties to measurable conservation objectives but instead requires the development of national strategies for conserving biodiversity. Similarly, the 1994 UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD; see Chapter 4), which established a regime to address land degradation in the drylands, calls for countries to draw up integrated national programs in consultation with local communities.

Some regimes, such as the ozone regime, are considered successes. These regimes have not completely solved the environmental issues they address, and each contains loopholes, but the situation is far better than it was before they were created. However, many regimes have had only mixed successes at best. Nevertheless, negotiation of the central agreement and other aspects of the regime (such as the related activities of international organizations) provide greater opportunities for addressing the environmental issue in question than when no regime exists (either because negotiations failed or none were attempted).[91] Thus, even though the biodiversity and climate regimes have not come close to solving those problems—in fact each problem continues to accelerate, with potentially disastrous results—the situation would be far worse, and the prospects for future improvements more remote, if the regimes did not exist.

Evidence for this conclusion exists in issues that have no extant regimes or for which initial attempts to create a regime failed. For instance, several efforts to create some type of regime for the protection of coral reefs have failed to gain traction, and coral reefs continue to degrade rapidly around the world. Shark populations continue to fall, largely as a result of sharks killed as bycatch, to make shark-fin soup, and for use in commercial products, including cosmetics. Efforts to initiate binding global protections for most sharks have failed, although a broad conservation plan was agreed on in 2010 to protect several species under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species.[92] Many countries have laws protecting coastal mangroves, but many of these same countries also sanction their enclosure or even allow their removal if needed for coastal development or to create ponds for shrimp farms. Without an international regime leading all countries to adjust their behavior simultaneously, this situation is likely to continue, and mangroves (and the ecological and economic value they have) will continue to disappear.

Theoretical Approaches to International Regimes

Several major theoretical approaches have been used to explain how international regimes come into existence and why they change.[93] These include structural, game-theoretic, institutional-bargaining, and epistemic-community approaches. Each may help explain one or more international regimes, but none individually can account for all of the regimes described and analyzed in this book.

The structural, or hegemonic-power, approach holds that the primary factor determining regime formation and change is the relative strength of the state actors involved in a particular issue and that “stronger states in the issue system will dominate the weaker ones and determine the rules of the game.”[94] This approach suggests that strong international regimes are a function of a hegemonic state that can exercise leadership over weaker states and that the absence of such a hegemonic state is likely to frustrate regime formation.

The structural approach can be viewed in two ways, one stressing coercive power, the other focusing on public goods. In the coercive-power variant, regimes are set up by hegemonic states that use their military and economic leverage over other states to bring them into regimes, as the United States did in setting up trade and monetary regimes immediately after World War II.[95] The second variant views the same postwar regimes as the result of a hegemonic power’s adopting policies that create public goods, that is, benefits open to all states that want to participate, such as export markets in the United States and the establishment of the dollar as a stable currency for international payments.

However useful the structural approach has been to explain the creation of post–World War II economic systems, it cannot explain why global environmental regimes have been negotiated. In the 1970s and 1980s, the United States was not a military hegemon but part of a bipolar system with the Soviet Union. Beginning in the mid-1980s, the United States faced the rise of competing economic powers in Japan and Europe. Moreover, the European Union (EU), whose member states negotiate on global environmental issues as a single bloc, became the economic equal of the United States in the late 1990s. Finally, the United States did not seek to create many of these environmental regimes. From 1981 to 1993 and from 2001 to 2009, both crucial periods in the creation and expansion of most global environmental regimes, the United States had presidents ideologically hostile toward international environmental regulation; consequently, the United States did not take many lead positions (as the theory argues a hegemonic state must do). Thus, the creation and expansion of these regimes depended on wide consensus among a number of states, not on imposition by the United States.[96]

Another approach to understanding regime creation is based on game theory and utilitarian models of bargaining. In game theory, bargaining scenarios are examined under different conditions with regard to the number of parties involved, the nature of the conflict (zero-sum or non–zero-sum), and the assumptions that the actors are rational (they will try to pursue outcomes favorable to them) and interconnected in some way—that is, they cannot pursue their own interests independently of the choices of other actors. This approach suggests that small groups of states, or coalitions, are more likely to succeed in negotiating an international regime than a large number because each player can more readily understand the bargaining strategies of the other players. Political scientist Fen Osler Hampson took this approach into account when he analyzed the process of regime creation as an effort by a small coalition of states to form a regime by exercising leadership over a much larger number of national actors.[97]

Nevertheless, for an environmental regime to succeed, it must include all states that have a large impact on the issue, including potential veto states. Veto states follow their own interests (as all states do), so a veto state in a small group will likely be as prone to opposition as it would be in a large group of states. And if veto states are left outside the small group, they will still be in a position to frustrate regime formation when the regime is enlarged, or they may simply refuse to join the regime, limiting the regime’s success.

Another approach is the epistemic-communities model, which emphasizes the impact of international learning and transnational networks of experts and bureaucrats, primarily on the basis of scientific research into a given problem, as a factor influencing the evolution of regimes.[98] This approach, advanced initially by political scientist Peter Haas to explain the creation of and compliance with the Mediterranean Action Plan, identifies intra-elite shifts within and outside governments as the critical factor in the convergence of state policies in support of a stronger regime. The shifts empowered technical and scientific specialists allied with officials of international organizations. These elites thus formed transnational epistemic communities, that is, communities of experts sharing common values and approaches to policy problems.

The importance of scientific evidence and expertise in the politics of many global environmental issues cannot be ignored. Indeed, a significant degree of scientific understanding and consensus has sometimes been a minimum condition for serious international action on an issue. The impetus for agreement in 1990 that the world should phase out CFCs completely came from incontrovertible scientific evidence that damage to the ozone layer was much greater than previously thought and that CFCs were largely responsible. The Kyoto Protocol was made possible, in part, by the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which confirmed that the earth’s temperature was increasing and that there is a “discernible human influence” on climate.

However, although scientific elites have played supportive and enabling roles in certain environmental negotiations, on some issues they remained divided or even captured by particular government or private interests. And on other issues, such as the whaling ban, the hazardous waste trade, desertification, Antarctica, and the ocean dumping of radioactive wastes, scientists have contributed little to regime formation or strengthening. In some of these cases, scientific elites were not particularly influential in policy making, whereas in others key actors explicitly rejected scientific findings as the basis for decisions.[99]

The case studies presented in Chapters 3 and 4 also suggest that theoretical approaches based solely on a unitary actor model (one suggesting that state actors can be treated as though they are a single entity encompassing an internally consistent set of values and attitudes), ignoring the roles of domestic sociopolitical structures and processes, are likely to form poor bases for analyzing and predicting the outcomes of global environmental bargaining. Negotiating positions usually reflect domestic sociopolitical balances, and these can change when those balances shift. For example, after Barack Obama was elected president, the United States dramatically shifted its stance from opposing to supporting global negotiations that would elaborate a regime to reduce mercury emissions. Although the structure of an issue in terms of economic interests may indicate which states are most likely to join a veto coalition, domestic political pressures and bargaining can tip the balance for or against regime creation or strengthening. A fully complete theoretical explanation for global environmental regime formation or change must incorporate the variable of state actors’ domestic politics.

A nuanced analysis of regime formation and strengthening, therefore, should link international political dynamics with domestic politics and view the whole as a two-level game. While representatives of countries are maneuvering the outcome of bargaining over regime issues, officials must also bargain with interest groups within their domestic political systems. Because the two processes often take place simultaneously, the arenas influence each other and become part of the negotiations at each level.[100]

A theoretical explanation for the formation of global environmental regimes must also leave room for the importance of the rules of the negotiating forum and the linkages between the negotiations on regimes and the wider relationships among the negotiating parties. The legal structure of the negotiating forum—the rules of the game regarding who may participate and how authoritative decisions are to be made—becomes particularly important when the negotiations take place within an already established treaty or organization.[101] The ozone and whaling cases illustrate how these rules can be crucial in determining the outcomes of the negotiations.

Economic and political ties among key state actors can also sway a veto state to compromise or defect. Particularly when the environmental regime under negotiation does not involve issues central to the economy of the states that could block agreement, the potential veto state’s concern about how a veto would affect relations with states important for economic or political reasons sometimes makes possible the formation or strengthening of a regime.

Paradigms in Global Environmental Politics

Public policy and regimes are shaped not only by impersonal forces, such as science, technological innovation, and economic growth, but also by peoples’, governments’, and institutions’ perceptions of reality. In times of relative stability, public policies and systems of behavior tend to flow in accordance with dominant paradigms, or sets of beliefs, ideas, and values. A dominant paradigm is challenged when contradictions appear between its assumptions and observed reality. If these contradictions are not resolved, eventually it gives way to a new paradigm through a process known as a paradigm shift.[102]

Because economic and environmental policy are intertwined in many ways, the paradigm that has dominated public understanding of environmental management during the period of rapid global economic growth in the last two centuries has been essentially a system of beliefs about economics. It has been referred to as the exclusionist paradigm because it excludes human beings from the laws of nature. It has also been called frontier economics, suggesting the sense of unlimited resources characteristic of a society living on an open frontier.[103]

In capitalist societies, this paradigm has rested primarily on two assumptions of neoclassical economics: the free market will tend to maximize social welfare, and there exists an infinite supply of both natural resources and sinks for disposing of the wastes that accrue from exploiting those resources—provided that the free market is operating efficiently. Humans will not deplete a resource, according to this worldview, as long as technology is given free rein and prices are allowed to fluctuate enough to stimulate the search for substitutes; in this way, absolute scarcity can be postponed indefinitely into the future.[104] Waste disposal is viewed as a problem to be cleaned up after the fact—but not at the cost of interference with market decisions.[105]

Because conventional economic theory is concerned with the allocation of scarce resources and nature is not considered a constraining factor, this paradigm considers the environment largely irrelevant to economics. (Despite a different economic and political ideology, the former Soviet Union and other communist states also shared this assumption.) The traditional international legal principles of state sovereignty (including control over resources within a state’s borders) and unrestricted access to the planet’s common resources, such as the oceans and their living resources, buttressed the exclusionist paradigm.

Sustainable Development: Rise of an Alternative Paradigm

In the 1960s, the dominant paradigm came under attack. The critique started in the United States and then spread to Europe and other regions. The 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which documented the dangers to human health from synthetic pesticides, marked the beginning of an explosion of popular literature about new threats to the environment, including radiation, lead, toxic wastes, and air and water pollution. The first mass movement for environmental protection, which focused on domestic issues including air and water pollution, developed in the United States in the late 1960s. Throughout this period, research and writing on environmental issues began to raise awareness that economic activity without concern for the environmental consequences carried high costs to society. Parallel changes in public concern about pollution also occurred in other industrialized countries. The burst of environmental concern in the United States led to the passage of a series of landmark pieces of legislation, including the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the 1970 Clean Air Act, the 1970 establishment of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and new rules to combat water pollution in 1972. These laws and those that built on them dramatically decreased air, water, and soil pollution in the United States. The National Environmental Policy Act also directed federal agencies to support international cooperation in “anticipating and preventing a decline in the quality of mankind’s world environment.”[106]

But the United States was not alone. As noted above, the first global environmental conference in history, the UN Conference on the Human Environment, convened in Stockholm in 1972. The motto of the Stockholm Conference, “Only One Earth,” was a revolutionary concept for its time. The conference approved a landmark declaration and a 109-point action plan for advancing international environmental cooperation, including creating a new international organization, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), to provide a focal point for environmental action and coordination of environmentally related activities within the UN system. In preparation for, or as a result of, Stockholm, environmental ministries and agencies were established in more than one hundred countries (most governments did not have such ministries before 1972). Stockholm also marked the beginning of the explosive increase in environmentally focused NGOs and IGOs dedicated to environmental preservation.

The rise of environmental consciousness in the 1960s and early 1970s attacked the dominant paradigm but did not produce a widely accepted set of alternative assumptions about physical and economic realities that could become a competing worldview. The essential assumptions of classical economics remained largely intact. Confronted with evidence that existing patterns of resource exploitation could cause irreversible damage, proponents of classical economics continued to maintain that such exploitation was still economically rational.[107]

Over time, however, an alternative paradigm that challenged the assumptions of classical economics began to take shape. Two of the intellectual forerunners of this paradigm were the Limits to Growth study, published by the Club of Rome in 1972, and Global 2000: The Report to the President, released by the US Council on Environmental Quality and the Department of State in 1980.[108] Each study applied global-systems computer modeling to the projected interactions among population, economic growth, and natural resources and concluded that if current trends continued, many ecosystems and natural resources would become seriously and irreversibly degraded and that these environmental developments would then have serious and negative economic consequences. Because each study suggested that economic development and population growth were on a path that would eventually strain the earth’s carrying capacity (the total amount of resource consumption that the earth’s natural systems can support without undergoing degradation), the viewpoint underlying the studies was generally referred to as the limits-to-growth perspective.

Defenders of the dominant paradigm, among them Herman Kahn and Julian Simon, criticized these studies for projecting the depletion of nonrenewable resources without taking into account technological changes and market responses. These critics argued that overpopulation would not become a problem because people are the world’s “ultimate resource,” and they characterized the authors of studies as “no-growth elitists” who would freeze developing countries out of the benefits of economic growth. They argued that human ingenuity would enable humanity to leap over the alleged limits to growth through new and better technologies.[109] These arguments found a following among those concerned about economic growth. The development of an alternative paradigm was then set back in the early 1980s, when the Reagan administration in the United States and the Thatcher government in the United Kingdom embraced policies consistent with the exclusionist paradigm.

Despite these political developments, knowledge about ecological principles and their relationship to economic development continued to spread. A global community of practitioners and scholars began to emerge, allied in the belief that ecologically sound policies should replace policies based on the exclusionist paradigm.

By the mid-1980s, sustainable development had emerged as the catchphrase of the search for an alternative paradigm, and the term was heard with increasing frequency at conferences around the world.[110] An important milestone was the 1987 publication by the World Commission on Environment and Development of Our Common Future (better known as the Brundtland Report, after the commission’s chair, former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland). The UN established the Brundtland Commission to examine the impact of environmental degradation and natural resource depletion on future economic and social development. The commission’s report is considered a landmark in global environmental politics in part because it helped to define, legitimize, and popularize the concept of sustainable development. Drawing on and synthesizing the views and research of hundreds of people worldwide, it also codified some of the central beliefs of the emerging sustainable development paradigm.

The Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as “development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”[111] The central themes of its report criticized existing economic and social systems (and the dominant paradigm) for failing to reconcile those needs. It asserted that the earth’s natural systems have finite capabilities and resources and that the continuation of existing economic policies carries the risk of irreversible damage to the natural systems on which all life depends.

The sustainable development paradigm emphasizes the need to redefine the term development. It posits that economic growth cannot continue at the expense of the planet’s natural capital (its stock of renewable and nonrenewable resources) and vital natural support systems such as the ozone layer, biodiversity, and a stable climate. Instead, the world economy must learn to live off the interest of the planet’s natural capital. That means reducing the amount of resources used per unit of gross national product (GNP), shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and reusing and recycling rather than consuming and discarding resources. It implies a transition to sustainable systems of natural resource management, efforts to stabilize world population, and a more measured approach to consumption.

Photo 1.3 Youth activists marching for intergenerational climate justice at the 2014 Climate March in New York City. Courtesy Pamela Chasek.

Photo 1.3 Youth activists marching for intergenerational climate justice at the 2014 Climate March in New York City.
Courtesy Pamela Chasek.

The sustainable development paradigm holds that future generations have an equal right to use our planet’s natural resources—a concept known as intergenerational equity.[112] The approach also affirms the need for greater equity among and within nations. Highly industrialized countries such as the United States, which use a disproportionate share of the world’s environmental resources, are seen as pursuing an unsustainable type of economic growth, as are societies in which grossly unequal distribution of land and other resources produces significantly negative impacts. To meet current and future needs, developing countries must meet the basic needs of the poor in ways that do not deplete the countries’ natural resources, and industrialized countries must examine attitudes and actions regarding unnecessary and wasteful aspects of their material abundance.[113]

One of the main anomalies of the classical economic paradigm is its measure of macroeconomic growth, that is, GNP. Advocates of sustainable development note that although GNP is an effective measure of broad economic activity, it fails to reflect the physical capability of an economy to provide material wealth in the future or to take into account the relative well-being of the society in general. Thus, a country could systematically deplete its natural resources, erode its soils, and pollute its waters without that loss of real wealth and its long-term negative economic impact showing up in calculations of GNP. Moreover, the economic expense of trying to fix these problems would actually add to GNP.

In the second half of the 1980s, some economists began to study how to correct this anomaly in conventional accounting and to advocate for governments and international organizations to use alternatives to GNP, such as real net national product, sustainable social net national product, or index of sustainable economic welfare, which include changes in environmental resources as well as other indicators that measure human welfare.[114] Of particular importance is the annual UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report, which uses human indicators to rate the quality of life in all countries by measures other than economic ones, including literacy, life expectancy, and respect for women’s rights.[115] The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan measures well-being not through GNP but through a Gross National Happiness Index that provides an overview of performance across nine domains: psychological well-being, time use, community vitality, cultural diversity, ecological resilience, living standard, health, education, and good governance.[116] The World Bank’s work on national capital accounting[117] and the UN’s System of Environmental-Economic Accounts[118] have helped to pioneer the inclusion of social and environmental aspects when assessing the wealth of nations. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Global Project on Measuring the Progress of Societies employs broader indicators than traditional GNP- or similarly based analyses.[119] The Environmental Sustainability Index ranks countries on twenty-one elements of sustainability covering natural resource endowments, past and present pollution levels, environmental management efforts, and contributions to the protection of the global commons.[120] The EU and its member states have developed and use a broad range of social and environmental indicators, often regrouped in sets of sustainable development indicators. The EU also promotes and supports the use of internationally recognized indicators in neighboring countries and developing countries.[121]

The use of these and related approaches reflects an increasing awareness that free markets alone often fail to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources. Because the market usually does not address externalities effectively, the approach argues that prices should reflect the real costs to society of producing and consuming a given resource or emitting pollution that harms people or the environment. Conventional economic policies, however, systematically underprice or ignore natural resources[122] as well as the costs of pollution and related externalities. Public policies that do not correct for these market failures tend to encourage pollution, more rapid depletion of renewable resources, wasteful consumption, and the degradation of environmental services (i.e., the conserving or restorative functions of nature; for example, the conversion of CO2 to oxygen by plants and the cleansing of water by wetlands). Adjusting the markets to send such price signals and exchanging income taxes for green taxes are means to address this problem and examples of the polluter pays principle, endorsed by the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (see Chapter 6). Placing an upper limit on consumption is another method.[123]

The alternative paradigm gained significant credibility through the Earth Summit in June 1992. The Earth Summit presented the first post–Cold War test of whether the international community possessed the collective will and wisdom to develop sustainably and to improve the human condition. And it was the first significant opportunity for industrialized countries (sometimes referred to in those discussions as “the North”) and developing countries (“the South”) to hold formal discussions on how they might combine economic and social development concerns with those of environmental protection as governments struggled to put into action the concept of sustainable development.[124] The agreements reached in Rio essentially held that developing countries would try to put into practice more environmentally sound development policies if the industrialized countries agreed to provide the necessary support, that is, new and additional financial resources, technology transfer on concessional and preferential terms, and assistance with capacity building, education, and training. Yet, twenty-five years later, few countries have lived up to their Rio commitments or completely embraced the sustainable development paradigm.

Globalization and Sustainable Development

Within many powerful institutions in China, India, the United States, and other countries, ideas that appear to be descended from the exclusionist paradigm still tend to dominate some policies. Many corporations, government ministries dealing with trade and finance, leaders of particular political parties, and some officials at multilateral institutions support policies that contradict the requirements for sustainable development. Interest groups dominated by certain industries locked into old paradigms continue to determine many national political agendas, while the globalization of industry, finance, technology, and information potentially erode certain aspects of the powers held by national authorities.[125] Additionally, studies show that most of the explicit goals set out in international environmental agreements have not been met.[126]

Has the sustainable development paradigm failed? Only ten years after the Earth Summit, many delegates and observers were asking this question as they gathered in Johannesburg in September 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). Convened to review the implementation of Agenda 21 and the other agreements adopted at the Earth Summit, the conference produced no definitive answer and, at best, mixed results. Although there were many official expressions of concern regarding the limited implementation of the UNCED agreements on sustainable development and the meeting outlined some broad action plans, delegates did not agree on many new substantive commitments, let alone new legally binding agreements.

During and since the WSSD, some have argued that the sustainable development paradigm has not failed but that its ascendancy has stalled because of the rise of what they see as a variation of the exclusionist paradigm: globalization.[127] Globalization is often identified with a number of trends, including a greater international movement of commodities, money, information, and people, as well as the development of economic and legal systems, infrastructures, organizations, and technology to allow this movement. Economic globalization means globe-­spanning economic relationships. The interrelationships of markets, finance, goods, and services, and the networks created by transnational corporations are particularly important manifestations.

One can view globalization as a description and/or an organizing principle, goal, or paradigm. As a description, globalization is the name given to the increasing interconnectedness of global economic, social, transportation, and communications systems, although some also include the impacts of these networks and the economic and political conditions that support them. These interconnections and their impacts are real. At the same time, the prevalence of policy choices that favor increased economic interconnectedness and other aspects of globalization, and the arguments of those that support or oppose these policies, make it clear that globalization is also a paradigm for organizing international economic activity.

Supporters of the globalization paradigm advocate for the liberalization of international markets, including reducing trade and other national economic barriers, minimizing regulations on the market (especially in highly regulated developing countries), and granting rights to corporations to invest in any country with few restraints or conditions. Governments should not interfere with the free play of the market. Efforts to prioritize social, development, or environmental concerns will retard the pursuit of the economic growth that is required for such goals to be achieved. Critics of the globalization paradigm oppose these policies, arguing that they are incompatible with sustainable development, increasing global equity, and sovereign political control over economic and social policy.

Actions by powerful countries and corporations supported the ascendancy of the globalization paradigm in the 1990s and 2000s. Some argue that many senior US policymakers saw globalization as supplanting the need for international assistance and even the sustainable development paradigm. “Trade, not aid” became a Washington mantra during the George W. Bush administration. Even among US policymakers favorable to environmental and development objectives, the trade and globalization agenda tended to occupy the available political space and crowd out sustainable development concerns.[128] The same argument could be made about key policies in China, India, and Russia, among other large countries.

As governments prepared for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable De­velopment (UNCSD or Rio+20), the concerns expressed about sustainable development and globalization in 2002 at WSSD resurfaced, although some of the language had changed. The UNCSD was charged with securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing progress and implementation gaps in meeting previously agreed-upon commitments, and addressing new and emerging challenges. In addition, the UN General Assembly called for the con­ference to focus on two themes: (1) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and (2) the institutional framework for sustainable development.

A green economy, according to one prominent definition, is one focused on improved human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.[129] Discussions surrounding the green economy had become increasingly prominent during the preparatory meetings leading up to Rio+20. In a green economy, growth in income, employment, and social development is driven by public and private investments in economically productive activities that also reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.[130]

During the last few years, the idea of a green economy has entered the mainstream of policy discourse. Traction for the concept has been aided by technological developments in key industries, disillusionment with the prevailing paradigm, and unease produced by the financial and economic crisis of 2008. These and other factors combined to create new interest in models and practices through which material wealth is produced without exacerbating environmental risks, resource scarcities, and social disparities.[131]

Some of the research and policy work on a green economy emphasizes the importance of internalizing environmental externalities in prices to send the right signals to producers and consumers—that is, to get the prices right. Other discussions focus on the importance of government actions that assist research, development, and deployment of new technologies in key sectors; finance infrastructure investments; provide supportive policy environments for green investments by the private sector; and ensure that green economy policies support employment and income generation for the poor.[132] Other discussions point toward the need for greater awareness within the private sector regarding the opportunities represented by the green economy and the importance of responding to government policy reforms and price signals through higher levels of financing and investment.[133]

Supporters of the green economy paradigm, like the sustainable development paradigm, believe it offers a way to pursue the economic aspirations of both rich and poor countries in a world that faces climate change, pollution, and ecological scarcity. A green economy can meet this challenge, they argue, by offering a ­de­velopment path that reduces carbon dependency, promotes resource and energy efficiency, and lessens environmental degradation. As economic growth and ­investments become less dependent on liquidating environmental assets and sacrificing environmental quality, both rich and poor countries can attain more sustainable economic development.[134]

During the Rio+20 process, however, the green economy paradigm met with resistance from some developing countries. Bolivia summed up the opposition, asserting that no single development model—whatever its color—should be imposed and that the rights of individual developing states to pursue development paths that reflect their own needs, resources, and history must be upheld.[135] Others warned that a green economy paradigm does not adequately consider development and equity issues or could be used by rich countries to justify unilateral trade measures against developing countries or as a new conditional standard that developing countries would have to meet in order to access aid, loans, and debt rescheduling and forgiveness.[136]

As a result of this debate, the final document adopted at the conference articulated the challenges in moving to an alternative economic paradigm:

We affirm that there are different approaches, visions, models and tools available to each country, in accordance with its national circumstances and priorities, to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions which is our overarching goal. In this regard, we consider green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as one of the important tools available for achieving sustainable development and that it could provide options for policymaking but should not be a rigid set of rules. We emphasize that it should contribute to eradicating poverty as well as sustained economic growth, enhancing social inclusion, improving human welfare and creating opportunities for employment and decent work for all, while maintaining the healthy functioning of the Earth’s ecosystems.[137]

So, are the globalization and sustainable development paradigms incompatible? Does globalization pose an impenetrable obstacle to effective global environmental policy? There are two primary arguments in this debate.

Supporters of globalization, as a paradigm or as a fact of international life, argue that it goes hand in hand with sustainable development and is beneficial for the environment because it is an engine of wealth creation. As societies become richer, the initial process of industrialization results in greater pollution. This happened in Europe and the United States and is happening now in many developing countries. As economic development continues, a point is eventually reached at which most material needs have been met and citizens enjoy general economic security, at least for a majority of the population. At this point, societies develop greater concern for pollution reduction and environmental protection, as Western Europe and the United States did. In addition, because of wealth creation, society has the economic and technical ability to implement the necessary measures to achieve these goals. Globalization, by delivering the development side of the sustainable development equation, can solve the economic and social problems that contribute to environmental degradation. Along these lines, poverty is seen as a critical component of environmental degradation, and environmentalists who oppose globalization are sometimes condemned as eco-imperialists for trying to deny poor countries the right to develop.[138]

The opposing argument sees both the globalization paradigm and most aspects of globalization in practice as contrary to sustainable development. In this view, globalization extends the exclusionist paradigm into all aspects of international economic relations, promoting and accelerating the overconsumption of natural resources and overproduction of waste on a global scale. It encourages the movement of capital, technology, goods, and labor to areas with high returns on investment without regard for the impact on the communities who live there or the environment. Globalization stretches the chains of production and consumption over great distances and across many locations, which increases the separation between sources of environmental problems and their impact. The division of labor associated with globalization increases the transport of raw materials, commodities, semiprocessed materials, parts, finished goods, and waste; requires greater energy consumption resulting in more pollution, including higher carbon emissions; and increases the risk of localized pollution problems and even major environmental accidents.[139] Critics also argue that globalization reinforces the sharp inequalities between developing and developed countries (see Chapter 6), or at least the inequalities between rich and poor, both nationally and internationally.

For example, the ready availability of so many different types of vegetables and fruits throughout the year is partly the result of a shift from subsistence farming in parts of many developing countries to intensive cash cropping and international trade, the wages and profits of which do not translate into sufficient food and social development in many local societies. Agribusinesses, not farmers, often reap the benefits and own the best-quality land. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are relied on to produce uniform, export-quality produce; far fewer of these chemicals were needed to grow local and subsistence crops. Poor farmers of export crops also have perverse incentives or are even forced by economic circumstances to cultivate low-quality, marginal land, contributing to soil erosion, habitat destruction, and land degradation.[140] The produce must then be transported to international markets, creating additional environmental externalities.

In agriculture and many other markets, the reorganization of production under globalization has led to the creation of extended commodity chains that spread environmental impacts over many countries. For example, the production of cotton T-shirts can involve as many as six different countries, creating different types of pollution and environmental impacts in each one (see Box 1.5).


Globalization can produce extended commodity chains that spread environmental impacts. The production of cotton T-shirts provides an example of how the production and use of even a simple product can involve as many as six different countries, with different types of resource use, pollution, and environmental impacts created in each one.

Source of information on commodity chains and waste chains: Ronnie D. Lipschutz, Global Environmental Politics: Power, Perspectives and Practice (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2004), 124.

Source of information on commodity chains and waste chains: Ronnie D. Lipschutz, Global Environmental Politics: Power, Perspectives and Practice (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2004), 124.

The exact relationship between globalization, sustainable development, and the environment is of course more complex than either of these two archetypal arguments. Each perspective contains elements of truth, and the specific impact of a particular aspect of globalization on a particular environmental issue depends on national and international economic and policy choices.

Will the exclusionist, globalization, sustainable development, or green economy paradigm dominate future political and economic perspectives? Will a hybrid emerge? Will policy continue to reflect elements of all of these approaches? Some argue that a future paradigm shift will not result from changing economic or political interests but rather require a “revolution of social consciousness and values.”[141] Governments and, more important, people do not necessarily change entrenched behaviors when they become aware of the seriousness of a potential threat. Such behavioral change sometimes requires a broader societal shift.

Although globalization remains a powerful force, some signs point to sustainable development becoming fully mainstreamed in certain economic and political circles. The EU, for example, has formally recognized the need to change unsustainable consumption and production patterns and move toward a more integrated approach to policy making.[142] Political rhetoric often exceeds actual policy changes in this area, but some European and other governments (e.g., Costa Rica) do appear committed to achieving economic growth that is truly sustainable through relying increasingly on alternative energy, eliminating many toxic chemicals, improving energy efficiency, and integrating two additional emergent paradigms to help guide decision making on environment and human health issues: environment-security links and the precautionary principle.

Environmental Change as a Security Issue

The environment-security paradigm holds that environmental degradation and ­resource depletion can affect national security. The central idea is that climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation act as threat multipliers that augment other conditions known to cause violence among opposing groups within a state or even among states. As argued by Thomas Homer-Dixon, who helped to pioneer our understanding of this issue, resource scarcity, ecosystem collapse, and other environmental problems can act as tectonic stresses, exacerbating existing political, social, or economic instability to the point that armed conflict occurs.[143] Environmental degradation can help cause or increase the impact of other problems known to contribute to violence within or among states, such as resource disputes, refugee movements, poverty, hunger, and weak governments.

For example, changing climate conditions contributed to the devastating ethnic conflict in Darfur, Sudan.[144] Environmental factors did not cause the violence, but they pushed other factors, including poverty, increasing ethnic and political divisions, and the territorial ambitions of certain groups, past the tipping point into widespread, systematic violence. The government and several rebel groups had opposed each other for years, reflecting the long-standing animosity that existed between elements of the Afro-Arab ethnic groups that dominate in the North and the non-Arab farming ethnic groups in the South as well as the territorial ambitions of particular actors. Over time, severe changes in rainfall patterns, increasing drought, and deteriorating soils caused many farmers to block off the remaining fertile land, fearing that shared use by the herders would ruin it. Many Arab herders were angry that they were not receiving their share of the land, leading to violent clashes, which were then used by some political leaders as excuses to widen the conflict.

In North America, the collapse of fisheries in northwestern Mexico contributed to the decision by some fishermen to become involved in drug smuggling and other crimes.[145] Similarly, overfishing and illegal fishing off the coast of Somalia contributed to the increase in piracy. Large criminal enterprises, many of which pose threats to local security, are responsible for 50–90 percent of illegal logging around the world.[146] In Haiti, massive deforestation (less than 2 percent of the nation remains forested) led to severely eroded hillsides, massive soil erosion and runoff, and declining water quality. This exacerbated the already difficult situation for rural farmers trying to work the country’s mountainous terrain. Soil runoff from the mountains also polluted many of the nation’s already overfished coastal areas, nearly eliminating fishing as a source of income. With no means to make a living in rural areas, the majority of Haitians moved to city slums, most living without clean water or proper sanitation, producing conditions that worsened the impact of the massive earthquake in 2010, which killed perhaps three hundred thousand and left at least one million Haitians homeless.[147]

US and European political, military, and intelligence communities have accepted certain aspects of the emerging paradigm that environmental degradation can lead to security concerns.[148] Of particular concern is climate change, which could produce huge numbers of refugees from flooded coastal areas, increase water and food scarcity, spread disease, and weaken economies in parts of the world that are already vulnerable, unstable, prone to extremism, or suffer significant cultural, ethnic, or economic divisions. Africa, for example, although “least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, is almost universally seen as the continent most at risk of climate-induced conflict—a function of the continent’s reliance on climate-­dependent sectors (such as rain-fed agriculture) and its history of resource, ethnic and political conflict.”[149] Similarly, with conditions in the Middle East already volatile, “climate change threatens to reduce the availability of scarce water resources, increase food insecurity, hinder economic growth and lead to large-scale population movements.”[150]

Environmental degradation and the mismanagement of natural resources can fuel conflict among and within states and contribute to poverty and state failure. On the flip side, war and other security issues can affect the environment. Military spending absorbs government finances and policy attention that might otherwise be dedicated to environmental protection. Military operations, even in peacetime, consume large quantities of natural resources. Armed conflict itself produces habitat destruction, overexploitation of natural resources, and pollution. Civil wars in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have destroyed many hectares of forests and wetlands.

Armed conflict also has an impact on states’ and regions’ abilities to guard protected areas and enforce conservation regulations.[151] This is particularly true during civil war or in very weak states, where the breakdown of the rule of law, increased availability of weapons, and disrupted economic and agricultural production all affect environmental protection. In the Congo, for example, armed conflict since 1994 has severely impacted many nature reserves, including some designated as World Heritage sites. Governments, international organizations, and NGOs have faced huge obstacles as a result of the “proliferation of arms and ammunition; displaced people, military, and dissidents; a general breakdown of law and order; uncontrolled exploitation of natural, mineral and land resources by various interest groups; and the increased use of wild areas as refuges and for subsistence.”[152] Anti­poaching patrols ceased in many areas for different periods, and increased poaching, harvesting game for food, and habitat destruction seriously affected wildlife populations in some parks. In parts of Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and other countries, rebel groups and drug traffickers, either on their own or in alliance, have sometimes prevented the enforcement of wildlife conservation, habitat protection, or deforestation laws by essentially controlling access to certain areas or bribing or intimidating inspectors and other officials.[153]

The environment and security paradigm replaces traditional analyses that assume that environmental degradation is irrelevant to a state’s national security ­interests. This does not imply that the environment is more important than traditional security calculations, but it does argue that an analysis of factors that can negatively affect a state’s security must include environmental degradation and resource mismanagement (much as the sustainable development paradigm argues that serious environmental degradation can negatively affect a state’s economy). It is not clear, however, that increased awareness of this relationship will lead to new action to ward off resource collapse in vulnerable parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Nor is it clear that recognition of the serious security problems posed by climate change will lead to increased efforts to reduce GHG emissions.

The Precautionary Principle: A New Paradigm for Environmental Policy?

The exclusionist paradigm implies that economic policy calculations need not factor in resource scarcity and environmental degradation. If resource scarcity begins to occur, the market will respond by raising prices, which will reduce demand and spur the search for substitutes, thereby averting a crisis. Similarly, there is no need to consider or take steps to avoid environmental problems before they occur, as these can be remedied after the fact if the market demands it. The globalization paradigm argues that priorities should be placed on policies that accelerate global economic growth, as this will provide the resources for environmental protection.

Unfortunately, although these deductions make sense from a purely market perspective, they fail to account accurately for the physical limitations of the earth’s biological and physical systems. It is true that prices will rise and incentives will exist to develop substitutes when scarcity becomes an issue, but for some environmental problems, these market forces will occur too late. Certain environmental impacts cannot be remedied once they occur, at least not on timescales relevant to human economic and political systems. If the ozone layer thins significantly, a rain forest gets destroyed, a coral reef dies, the climate system shifts to a different equilibrium, a species becomes extinct, or a human life is shortened by air, water, or toxic pollution, these changes will last, if not forever, then at least for a very, very long time.

Moreover, in some cases, environmental degradation actually increases incentives to exploit a particular resource. Declines in rhino and tuna populations increase their price and thus the interest of poachers. Water scarcity due to changes in weather patterns increases pressure on aquifers. Lower crop yields due to climate change can cause farmers to cultivate marginal land, clear forests to increase capacity, or increase the use of fertilizers or pesticides that have a net negative impact on the environment.

In other cases, operating under the exclusionist paradigm simply represents a poor economic decision. Sometimes, the impacts of pollution or environmental degradation cost far more than the economic benefits accrued from production. Deforestation in Haiti and some other areas is an example. For the country as a whole, the economic benefits of using the wood or cleared land are far fewer than the economic costs associated with the harm caused to fisheries, farming, and freshwater resources resulting from the severe erosion and runoff from hills and mountains that no longer have trees to hold the soil in place. In other cases, such as climate change or ozone depletion, the economic costs associated with the worst consequences of the problem are higher than the cost of taking steps to prevent them from occurring.

Those holding this position argue that in many situations, the best policy—from an environmental, human health, and economic point of view (and perhaps an ethical one as well)—is to avoid producing certain serious environmental problems in the first place. The difficulty, of course, is that the complexity of many environmental issues prevents clear calculations of an activity’s environmental costs, while its economic benefits are usually quite clear. Thus, the lack of scientific certainty regarding the range, extent, and cost of environmental impacts from particular activities or products can prevent effective policy in the face of strong lobbying by economic interests.

The precautionary principle attempts to resolve this dilemma and provide guidance regarding the development of national and international environmental policy. The most widely used definition of the precautionary principle was set forth by governments in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration: “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”[154]

Those supporting the use of the precautionary principle argue that it leads to several main policy-relevant ideas:[155]

  • The importance and efficacy of taking preventative action, when the lack of action might produce essentially irreversible, unwanted impacts on the environment or human health;
  • The need to shift the burden of proof from those seeking to protect human health and the environment to those supporting a particular activity or product. Rather than forcing others to prove something is definitely harmful, which has traditionally been the case, now proponents of, for example, using a particular chemical would need to show it is not harmful;
  • The need to keep science and rational arguments central to decision making involving health and environmental issues with the understanding that complete scientific certainty or unanimity regarding future harm is not required to make policy designed to protect the environment or human health from irreversible damage; and
  • The importance of asking why we should risk irreversible or very serious harm for a particular product or activity.[156]

Several important global environmental statements and treaty regimes contain elements of the precautionary principle either explicitly or implicitly.[157] For example, the Ministerial Declaration from the Second International Conference on the Protection of the North Sea (1987) states, “In order to protect the North Sea from possibly damaging effects of the most dangerous substances, a precautionary approach is necessary which may require action to control inputs of such substances even before a causal link has been established by absolutely clear scientific evidence.”[158] The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987) also endorsed the concept of precautionary policy, stating that parties to the agreement are “determined to protect the ozone layer by taking precautionary measures to control equitably total global emissions of substances that deplete it.”[159]

The climate regime includes the concept of precaution as one of its central principles. Article 3 of the UNFCCC (1992) states:

In their actions to achieve the objective of the Convention and to implement its provisions, the Parties shall be guided, inter alia, by the following: . . .
The parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent, or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures.[160]

The 2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety expressly allows parties to ban imports of genetically modified organisms, even where there is a “lack of scientific certainty due to insufficient relevant scientific information and knowledge” concerning health or environmental impacts.[161] The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants defines the objective of the regime: “Mindful of the precautionary approach as set forth in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the objective of this Convention is to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants.”[162] In addition, the treaty states that precaution should be used when considering additional substances to add to the control measures and that the lack of scientific certainty regarding the precise levels of a substance’s toxicity or propensity for long-range transport and bioaccumulation shall not be grounds for failing to consider controlling it under the regime.

Local and national laws in a number of countries have also incorporated the principle. Most important is the EU announcement in 2000 stating that the precautionary principle will guide EU policy decisions on environmental and human health issues and is also a “a full-fledged and general principle of international law.”[163]

Even though there is increasing reference to the precautionary principle in international politics, arguments exist that it should not be accepted as a principle of international law (on par with universally accepted principles such as sovereignty). Some argue that shifting the burden of proof means that decisions will not be based on scientific certainty but rather on “emotional and irrational” factors.[164] Others argue that precautionary actions will cost too much, harming companies and hindering economic development.[165] Some argue that applying the principle too broadly will require proving that something is totally safe, which is essentially impossible to prove in all situations.[166] Others note that its use in treaties or acceptance by international legal bodies as a guiding point of international law is not universal. For example, during the George W. Bush administration, the United States argued during several multilateral negotiations that the precautionary principle was not an accepted principle of international law that bound states to certain norms. Under this interpretation, references to precaution in treaties that the United States signed or ratified related only to the particular activity under ­discussion—not a general international legal principle applicable across all countries and issues.[167]

Other analysts, legal scholars, and policymakers dismiss these arguments. They believe that inclusion of the precautionary principle (or its key elements under another name) in so many international treaties, its status within the EU (which currently includes twenty-eight member countries), and its emergence in local and national laws in many countries prove that “the precautionary principle has evolved from being a ‘soft law’ ‘aspirational’ goal to its present status as an authoritative norm recognized by governments and international organizations as a firm guide to activities affecting the environment.”[168]

Clearly the precautionary principle has become a part of many international environmental policies, having found its way into an increasing number of global regimes, influenced international decision making, and been more and more accepted in debates on national policies in multiple countries. Yet if the precautionary principle is a new dominant paradigm, why don’t we see greater levels of international commitments with regard to climate change, biodiversity, forests, and fisheries?

Perhaps there is no real dominant paradigm. It appears that multiple paradigms exist today and compete for primacy. Elements of the exclusionist paradigm still influence some global, national, local, and corporate policies but so, too, do elements of the sustainable development paradigm and the precautionary principle.

At the same time, the totality of the evidence supports the thesis that we could be in a time of paradigm transition: from exclusionist premises to sustainable development and precaution. But the future is far from clear. As economies, populations, cities, energy production, and resource demands continue to grow, the paradigms that influence policy debates could go a long way toward determining what the world will look like.


Global environmental politics involves actions by, and interactions among, states, IGOs, and other actors that transcend a given region and that affect the environment and natural resources of multiple regions or the entire planet. The emergence of environmental issues in world politics reflects growing awareness of the cumulative stresses that human activities have on Earth’s resources and life-­support systems.

Much of global environmental politics focuses on efforts to negotiate and implement multilateral agreements or other mechanisms for cooperation to protect the environment and natural resources. Some of these agreements stand at the center of global environmental regimes of varying effectiveness that seek to govern or guide specific state behaviors regarding the environmental problem in question.

Legitimate differences in economic, political, and environmental interests make achieving unanimity among states responsible for, or directly affected by, an environmental problem a political and diplomatic challenge. One or more states often have the ability to block or weaken a multilateral agreement, and finding ways to overcome such blockage is a major concern. For a regime to form, veto states must be persuaded to abandon their opposition or at least to accept a compromise.

Other obstacles stem from socioeconomic paradigms that justify extensive, and sometitmes essentially unlimited, exploitation of nature and discount the impact of pollution and deteriorating ecosystems on economic and social well-being. Despite the weakening of these paradigms and widespread recognition of an alternative sustainable development paradigm, the rise of globalization and the resilience of aspects of the traditional paradigms have complicated the shift to potential new models centered on a green economy, incorporation of the precautionary principle, and global sustainable development.

Subsequent chapters in this book explore these and other key issues in global environmental politics. Chapter 2 examines the main actors in global environmental politics. States are the most important actors because they negotiate international legal instruments, create global environmental regimes, and adopt economic, trade, and regulatory policies that directly and indirectly affect the environment. At the same time, nonstate actors also play major roles. International organizations, treaty secretariats, NGOs, and multinational corporations help set the global environmental agenda, initiate and influence the process of regime formation, and carry out actions that directly affect the global environment.

Chapters 3 and 4 look at the development of ten important global environmental regimes: ozone depletion, hazardous wastes, toxic chemicals, climate change, biodiversity, trade in endangered species, forests, desertification, fisheries, and whaling. Each issue is analyzed with a focus on what occurred during different stages in the development of the regime and the role of veto coalitions and other major causal factors.

Chapter 5 examines obstacles to creating, implementing, and complying with environmental regimes and the means of effective implementation. The first two sections examine factors that make it difficult to create regimes with strong control measures and for states to implement them. The third section outlines methods to improve regime implementation, compliance, and effectiveness. The final section discusses options for increasing the financing available to help implement global environmental regimes. Because inadequate financial and technical resources and counterproductive economic incentives inhibit the ability of many countries to implement or expand environmental regimes, financial issues have been at the center of global environmental policy debates for many years and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Chapter 6 explains how the evolution of global environmental politics cannot be understood completely outside the context of the historic and current relationship between industrialized and developing countries and the other two pillars of sustainable development: economic development and social development. The final section looks at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 and how they may affect global environmental politics. Chapter 7 concludes our discussion with some thoughts on the past, present, and future of global environmental politics.


[1] United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), GEO 5: Global Environmental ­Outlook—Environment for the Future We Want (Nairobi: UNEP, 2012).

[2] WWF, Living Planet Report 2014 (Gland, Switzerland: WWF, 2014), 32.

[3] Ibid.

[4] “World Footprint,” Global Footprint Network,

[5] United Nations (UN), World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision (New York: UN, 2015), 2.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., 3

[9] Ibid., 4.

[10] Peter Dauvergne, The Shadows of Consumption (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008), 4.

[11] UNEP, GEO 5, 4–30.

[12] WWF, Living Planet Report 2012 (Gland, Switzerland: WWF, 2012), 56.

[13] UNEP, “UNEP-Hosted Global Partnership on Waste Management Answering Call as Municipal Waste to Grow to 2.2 Billion Tonnes per Year by 2025,” UNEP Newsdesk release, November 6, 2012.

[14] WWF, Living Planet Report 2014, 59.

[15] “The State of Consumption Today,” Worldwatch Institute,

[16] Mark J. Perry, “Today’s New Homes Are 1,000 Square Feet Larger Than in 1973, and the Living Space per Person Has Doubled over Last 40 Years,” AEIdeas Blog, February 26, 2014,

[17] Jonathan Vespa, Jamie Lewis, and Rose Kreider, America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2012 (Washington, DC: US Census Bureau, 2013), 7.

[18] WWF, Living Planet Report 2014, 37.

[19] UN, Millennium Development Goals Report 2014 (New York: UN, 2014), 5, 8–9.

[20] “Water Quality,” UN Water,

[21] Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss, “Use It and Lose It: The Outsize Effect of U.S. Consumption on the Environment,” Scientific American, September 14, 2012, www.scientificamerican

[22] International Energy Agency (IEA), World Energy Outlook 2014 Factsheet (Paris: IEA, 2014), 5,

[23] “Energy Use (kg of oil equivalent per capita),” World Bank,

[24] John Banks, Key Sub-Saharan Energy Trends and Their Importance for the US (Washington, DC: Brookings Institute, 2013).

[25] “Global Energy Statistical Yearbook 2015, Enerdata,

[26] Ibid.

[27] A. Boden, G. Marland, and R. J. Andres, Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emissions (Oak Ridge, TN: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US Department of Energy, 2013), doi:10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2013.

[28] Global Carbon Project, “Fossil Fuel Emissions,”

[29] World Bank, “CO2 Emissions (metric tons per capita),”

[30] Ibid.

[31] IEA, World Energy Outlook Factsheet: Global Energy Trends to 2040 (Paris: IEA, 2015),

[32] World Meteorological Organization, “WMO: 2015 Likely to Be Warmest on Record, 2011–2015 Warmest Five Year Period,” press release no. 13, November 25, 2015, www.wmo

[33] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, eds. T. F. Stocker, D. Qin, G. K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex, and P. M. Midgley (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

[34] UNEP, GEO 5.

[35] Ibid.

[36] UN-Water, World Water Development Report 2014 (Paris: UN, 2014), 4, 23.

[37] Ibid., 23.

[38] Ibid., 2, 24.

[39] A hectare is 10,000 square meters.

[40] UNEP, Annual Report 2014 (Nairobi: UNEP, 2015), 22.

[41] Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015: How Are the World’s Forests Changing? (Rome: FAO, 2015), 18.

[42] UNEP, Annual Report 2014, 4.

[43] UNEP, Protected Planet Report 2014 (Nairobi: UNEP, 2014), 17.

[44] World Resources Institute (WRI), Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Biodiversity Synthesis (Washington, DC: WRI, 2005).

[45] FAO, State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture (Rome: FAO, 2014), 37.

[46] FAO, “Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Genetics,” in The Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Millennium Development Goals (Rome: FAO, 2014), 2.

[47] FAO, State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture, 37.

[48] FAO, “Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Genetics.”

[49] J. Samuel Barkin and Elizabeth R. DeSombre, Saving Global Fisheries: Reducing Fishing Capacity to Promote Sustainability (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013).

[50] FAO, Review of the State of World Marine Fishery Resources, 13–14.

[51] Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel–Global Environment Facility, Impacts of Marine Debris on Biodiversity: Current Status and Potential Solutions, Technical Series No. 67 (Montreal: Secretariat of the CBD, 2012). See also UNEP, Marine Litter: A Global Challenge (Nairobi: UNEP, 2009).

[52] World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics (Cologne and Geneva: World Economic Forum, 2016), www3

[53] Daniela Russi et al., The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Water and Wetlands: A Briefing Note (Geneva: UNEP, 2012).

[54] Ibid.

[55] UNEP, Protected Planet Report 2014 (Nairobi: UNEP, 2014), 9.

[56] Russi et al., The Economics of Ecosystems.

[57] Worldwatch Institute, Vital Signs (Washington, DC: Worldwatch, 2014).

[58] UN-Water, World Water Development Report 2014, 54.

[59] Asbjørn Eide, The Right to Food and the Impact of Liquid Biofuels (Agrofuels) (Rome: FAO, 2008), 14.

[60] UN-Water, “Statistics,”

[61] See Eide, The Right to Food, 44. Analyses of the links between climate change and weather include Vladimir Petoukhov et al., “Quasiresonant Amplification of Planetary Waves and Recent Northern Hemisphere Weather Extremes,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (March 1, 2013), doi:10.1073/pnas.1222000110; C. B. Fields et al., eds., Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation: Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for the IPCC, 2012); and Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Government of Australia, The Angry Summer (Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2013).

[62] “Drought Information,” California Department of Water Resources,; Soumaya Belmecheri, “Multi-century Evaluation of Sierra Nevada Snowpack,” Nature Climate Change (2015), doi:10.1038/nclimate2809.

[63] International Resource Panel, UNEP, Towards Sustainable Production and Use of Resources: Assessing Biofuels (Nairobi: UNEP, 2009); Mireille Faist Emmenegger et al., Harmonisation and Extension of the Bioenergy Inventories and Assessment (Bern, Switzerland: EMPA [Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology], 2012),*/125527; Michael Hagman, “New Data on the Biofuel Ecobalance: Most Biofuels Are Not ‘Green,’” EMPA, September 24, 2012,—-/l=2; Damian Carrington, “Leaked Data: Palm Biodiesel as Dirty as Fuel from Tar Sands,” Guardian, January 27, 2012.

[64] National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), World of Corn: Unlimited Possibilities (Washington, DC: NCGA, 2013),

[65] Timothy Wise, “The Cost to Developing Countries of U.S. Corn Ethanol Expansion,” Global Development and Environment Institute Working Paper No. 12–02, Tufts University, October 2012, 2,

[66] UNEP, GEO 5, 46–48.

[67] UNEP, “UNEP-Hosted Global Partnership on Waste Management.”

[68] “Global Health Observatory Data: Urban Health,” World Health Organization,

[69] UN Human Settlement Program (UNHSP), World Habitat Day Voices from Slums: Background Paper (Nairobi: UN Habitat, 2014), 1,

[70] UN, World Urbanization Prospects, 2014 Revision (New York: UN, 2014), 93.

[71] UNHSP, World Habitat Day Voices from Slums: Background Paper, 2.

[72] For an early effort to categorize environmental problems, see Clifford Russell and Hans Landsberg, “International Environmental Problems: A Taxonomy,” Science 172 (June 25, 1972): 1307–1314.

[73] Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Science 162, no. 3859 (December 13, 1968): 1243–1248.

[74] Oran Young, International Governance: Protecting the Environment in a Stateless Society (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994), 19–26.

[75] Diane Bui, “The Instance of Environmental Regimes,” in Delegating State Powers: The Effect of Treaty Regimes on Democracy and Sovereignty, ed. Thomas Franck (Ardsley, NY: Transnational Publishers, 2000), 33.

[76] Lars-Göran Engfeldt, “The Road from Stockholm to Johannesburg,” UN Chronicle 39, no. 3 (September–November 2002): 14–17.

[77] UN Conference on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, Rio Declaration, Forest Principles (New York: UN, 1992).

[78] This definition builds explicitly on the definition developed in Stephen Krasner, ed., International Regimes (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983). Compare the definition and use of the term regime in John Gerard Ruggie, “International Responses to Technology: Concepts and Trends,” International Organization 29 (1975): 557–583; Ernst Haas, “On Systems and International Regimes,” World Politics 27 (1975): 147–174; Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye Jr., Power and Interdependence: World Politics in Transition (Boston: Little, Brown, 1977); Oran Young, “International Regimes: Problems of Concept Formation,” International Organization 32 (1980): 331–356; Robert Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984); Jack Donnelly, “International Human Rights: A Regime Analysis,” International Organization 40 (1986): 599–642; Stephan Haggard and Beth Simmons, “Theories of International Regimes,” International Organization 41 (1987): 491–517; and David Downie, “Road Map or False Trail: Evaluating the Precedence of the Ozone Regime as Model and Strategy for Global Climate Change,” International Environmental Affairs 7 (Fall 1995): 321–345.

[79] For influential discussions of the study of international cooperation, see and compare Friedrich Kratochwil and John Gerard Ruggie, “International Organization: A State of the Art on an Art of the State,” International Organization 40 (1986): 753–776; James Dougherty and Robert Pfaltzgraff Jr., Contending Theories of International Relations: A Comprehensive Survey, 5th ed. (New York: Pearson, 2001), ch. 10; and Joseph Grieco, “Anarchy and the Limits of Cooperation: A Realist Critique of the Newest Liberal Institutionalism,” International Organization 42 (1988): 485–507.

[80] Classic examples include Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. Influential modern examples include Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 5th ed. (New York: Knopf, 1973); Robert Jervis, “Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma,” World Politics 30 (1978): 167–186; and Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1979).

[81] Constitutionalists believed “international governance is whatever international organizations do; and formal attributes of international organizations, such as their charters, voting procedures, committee structures and the like, account for what they do” (Kratochwil and Ruggie, “International Organization,” 755). The institutional process approach examines influence, how information is produced and digested, who speaks to whom, how decisions are made, and so on. It argues that the outputs of international organizations do not always reflect their charters or official procedures. A classic example is Robert Cox and Harold Jacobson, eds., The Anatomy of Influence: Decision Making in International Organization (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1973).

[82] For example, Richard Falk, A Study of Future Worlds (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975).

[83] Important examples and discussions of functionalism include David Mitrany, A Working Peace System: An Argument for the Functional Development of International Organization (1943; repr., Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1966); David Mitrany, The Functional Theory of Politics (London: M. Robertson, 1975); and A. J. R. Groom and Paul Taylor, eds., Functionalism: Theory and Practice in International Relations (New York: Crane, Russak, 1975).

[84] See and compare discussions in Kratochwil and Ruggie, “International Organization,” 756–763; Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff, Contending Theories of International Relations, ch. 10; and Groom and Taylor, Functionalism, ch. 1.

[85] Leading examples and discussion include Ernst Haas, Beyond the Nation State: Functionalism and International Organization (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1964); Ernst Haas, “The Uniting of Europe and the Uniting of Latin America,” Journal of Common Market Studies 5 (1967): 315–343; Philippe Schmitter, “Three Neo-Functional Hypotheses About International Integration,” International Organization 23 (1969): 161–166; Ernst Haas, “The Study of Regional Integration: Reflections on the Joy and Anguish of Pretheorizing,” International Organization 24 (1970): 607–646; Kratochwil and Ruggie, “International Organization,” 757–759; and Groom and Taylor, Functionalism, chs. 11–12.

[86] Examples are Ernst Haas, “On Systems and International Regimes,” World Politics 27 (1975): 147–174; and Ernst Haas, When Knowledge Is Power: Three Models of Change in International Organizations (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).

[87] Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye Jr., eds., Transnational Relations and World Politics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972); Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye Jr., “Transnational Relations and International Organizations,” World Politics 27 (October 1974): 39–62.

[88] Keohane and Nye, Power and Interdependence. Complex interdependence and turbulent fields share important concerns and insights.

[89] This paragraph is adapted from I. William Zartman, ed., The 50% Solution: How to Bargain Successfully with Hijackers, Strikers, Bosses, Oil Magnates, Arabs, Russians, and Other Worthy Opponents (1976; repr., New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983), 9–10.

[90] R. Michael M’Gonigle and Mark Zacher, Pollution, Politics, and International Law: Tankers at Sea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 58–59, 84–85, 93–96.

[91] Keohane, After Hegemony, provides an influential discussion of why it is easier to change international regimes to make them more effective than it is to create new ones.

[92] For more information on the Convention on Migratory Species initiative on migratory sharks, see “CMS Convention on Migratory Species: Meetings on Migratory Sharks,” Con­vention on Migratory Species, 2010,

[93] For an early analytical overview of these approaches, see Haggard and Simmons, “Theories of International Regimes.”

[94] Keohane and Nye, Power and Interdependence, 50–51.

[95] For the former approach, see Robert Gilpin, The Political Economy of International Relations (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987); Grieco, “Anarchy and the Limits of Cooperation”; and Susan Strange, “Cave! Hic Dragones: A Critique of Regime Analysis,” International Organization 36 (Spring 1982): 479–496. Susan Strange, “The Persistent Myth of Lost Hegemony,” International Organization 41 (Summer 1987): 570, argues that inconsistency in US policy rather than loss of US global hegemony caused erosion of international regimes.

[96] Oran Young, “The Politics of International Regime Formation: Managing Natural Resources and the Environment,” International Organization 43 (Summer 1989): 355.

[97] Fen Osler Hampson, “Climate Change: Building International Coalitions of the Like-Minded,” International Journal 45 (Winter 1989–1990): 36–74.

[98] See Peter Haas, “Do Regimes Matter? Epistemic Communities and Mediterranean Pollution Control,” International Organization 43 (Summer 1989): 378–403.

[99] The issue of ocean dumping of radioactive wastes, in which scientific evidence was explicitly rejected as the primary basis for decision making by antidumping states, is analyzed in Judith Spiller and Cynthia Hayden, “Radwaste at Sea: A New Era of Polarization or a New Basis for Consensus?” Ocean Development and International Law 19 (1988): 345–366.

[100] Robert Putnam, “Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games,” International Organization 42, no. 3 (Summer 1988): 427–460.

[101] For example, David Downie, “Understanding International Environmental Regimes: Lessons of the Ozone” (PhD diss., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1996).

[102] For an influential and accessible discussion of paradigm shifts, see Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962). Our discussion of paradigm shifts is not offered as a new theory to compete with existing theories of international regimes but rather as a supplementary set of lenses through which to discuss environmental issues.

[103] Harold and Margaret Sprout, The Ecological Perspective on Human Affairs, with Special Reference to International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965); Kenneth Boulding, “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth,” in Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy: Essays from the Sixth RFF Forum, ed. Henry Jarrett (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1966).

[104] For an analysis of neoclassical economic assumptions as they bear on environmental management, see Daniel Underwood and Paul King, “On the Ideological Foundations of Environmental Policy,” Ecological Economics 1 (1989): 317–322.

[105] See Michael Colby, Environmental Management in Development: The Evolution of Paradigms (Washington, DC: World Bank, 1990).

[106] John McCormick, Reclaiming Paradise: The Global Environmental Movement (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), 67.

[107] See Clem Tisdell, “Sustainable Development: Differing Perspectives of Ecologists and Economists, and Relevance to LDCs,” World Development 16 (1988): 377–378.

[108] Donella Meadows et al., The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind (New York: Universe Books, 1972); Council on Environmental Quality and Gerald Barney, Global 2000: The Report to the President Entering the Twenty-First Century (New York: Pergamon, 1980).

[109] Julian Simon and Herman Kahn, eds., The Resourceful Earth: A Response to Global 2000 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984).

[110] For background on the sustainable development concept, see UN Center for Transnational Corporations, Environmental Aspects of the Activities of Transnational Corporations: A Survey (New York: UN, 1985).

[111] World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987).

[112] See Edith Brown Weiss, “In Fairness to Future Generations,” Environment 32 (April 1990), 7–11, 30–31; and similar arguments made in the Latin American and Caribbean Commission on Development and Environment, Our Own Agenda (New York: Inter-American Development Bank, 1990).

[113] See Alan Durning, “How Much Is Enough?” Worldwatch 3 (November–December 1990): 12–19.

[114] See Yusuf Ahmad, Salah El Serafy, and Ernst Lutz, eds., Environmental Accounting for Sustainable Development (Washington, DC: World Bank, 1989). For an early example of natural resource accounting, see Robert Repetto et al., Accounts Overdue: Natural Resources Depreciation in Costa Rica (Washington, DC: WRI, 1991).

[115] See Herman E. Daly, “Toward a Measure of Sustainable Social Net National Product,” in Ahmad, Serafy, and Lutz, Environmental Accounting for Sustainable Development, 8–9; and Herman Daly and John Cobb Jr., For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment and a Sustainable Future (Boston: Beacon, 1989), 368–373, 401–455. A similar effort to rate the distributive effects of national policies is embodied in the UN Development Programme’s human development indicators in its annual Human Development Report.

[116] Centre for Bhutan Studies, A Short Guide to Gross National Happiness Index (Thimphu, Bhutan: Centre for Bhutan Studies, 2012),

[117] See World Bank, “National Capital Accounting,” May 20, 2015,

[118] See UN Statistics Division, “The System of Environmental-Economic Accounts (SEEA) Measurement Framework in Support of Sustainable Development and Green Economy Policy,” Briefing Note,

[119] See “Measuring Well-Being and Progress,” Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development,

[120] For information on the Environmental Sustainability Index, see

[121] Commission of the European Communities, GDP and Beyond: Measuring Progress in a Changing World, See also “Indicators,” European Commission,

[122] See, for example, Partha Dasgupta and Karl Goran Maler, “The Environment and Emerging Development Issues,” paper presented at the World Bank Conference on Development Economics, April 26–27, 1990, 22; and Sander Tideman, “Gross National Happiness: Towards a New Paradigm in Economics,” in Gross National Happiness and Development: Proceedings of the First International Seminar on Operationalization of Gross National Happiness, ed. Karma Ura and Karma Galay (Thimphu, Bhutan: Centre for Bhutan Studies, 2004), 222–246.

[123] See Robert Repetto, Promoting Environmentally Sound Economic Progress: What the North Can Do (Washington, DC: WRI, 1990); and Daly, “Toward a Measure of Sustainable Social Net National Product.”

[124] Pamela Chasek and Lynn Wagner, “An Insider’s Guide to Multilateral Environmental Negotiations Since the Earth Summit,” in The Roads from Rio: Lessons Learned from Twenty Years of Multilateral Environmental Negotiations, eds. Pamela Chasek and Lynn Wagner (New York: RFF, 2012), 1–2.

[125] Tideman, “Gross National Happiness,” 229.

[126] UNEP, GEO 5.

[127] Martin Khor, “Globalisation and Sustainable Development: Challenges for Johannesburg,” Third World Resurgence 139/140 (March–April 2002).

[128] For example, James Gustave Speth, “Two Perspectives on Globalization and the Environment,” in Worlds Apart: Globalization and the Environment, ed. James Gustave Speth (Washington, DC: Island, 2003), 12.

[129] UNEP, Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication (Nairobi: UNEP, 2011).

[130] Ibid.

[131] Ibid., 14.

[132] UN, Secretary-General’s Report on Objectives and Themes of the United Nations Conference, December 22, 2010, 5,

[133] UNEP, Towards a Green Economy, 14.

[134] Ibid., 16–17.

[135] “Summary of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development: 13–22 June 2012,” Earth Negotiations Bulletin 27, no. 51 (June 25, 2012): 21.

[136] Martin Khor, “Global Debate on ‘Green Economy,’” Star (Malaysia), January 24, 2011.

[137] UN, The Future We Want, July 24, 2012, 10,

[138] Neil Carter, Politics of the Environment: Ideas, Activism, Policy, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 272–273. For additional views on this argument, see Jagdish Bhagwati, In Defense of Globalization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); and Jennifer Clapp and Peter Dauvergne, Paths to a Green World: The Political Economy of the Global Environment (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005).

[139] Carter, Politics of the Environment, 273; and Ronnie D. Lipschutz, Global Environmental Politics: Power, Perspectives, and Practice (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2004), 121.

[140] Carter, Politics of the Environment, 273; and Arthur Mol, Globalization and Environmental Reform (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003), 71–72, 126.

[141] Paul Raskin et al., Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead (Boston: Stockholm Environment Institute, 2002). Compare with Kuhn’s analysis of paradigm shifts in science in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

[142] For updated information on EU sustainable development policy, see the relevant official websites, including “Environment: Sustainable Development,” European Commission,

[143] See, for example, Thomas Homer-Dixon, “On the Threshold: Environmental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict,” International Security 16, no. 2 (1991): 76–116; Thomas F. Homer-­Dixon, “Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict: Evidence from Cases,” International Security 19, no. 1 (1994): 5–40; Thomas F. Homer-Dixon and Jessica Blitt, eds., Eco­violence: Links Among Environment, Population and Security (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998); and Thomas Homer-Dixon, Environment, Scarcity, and Violence (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999). For current news and reports, see the Environmental Change and Security Program website:

[144] UNEP, Sudan: Post Conflict Environmental Assessment (Nairobi: UN, 2007); Clionadh Raleigh, “Political Marginalization, Climate Change, and Conflict in African Sahel States,” International Studies Review 12, no. 1 (2010): 69–86.

[145] See Doug Hawley, “Drug Smugglers Curtail Scientists’ Work,” USA Today, December 27, 2007.

[146] Christian Nelleman, UNEP, and INTERPOL, Green Carbon, Black Trade: Illegal Logging, Tax Fraud and Laundering in the World’s Tropical Forests (Nairobi: UNEP, 2012).

[147] Maura O’Connor, “Two Years Later, Haitian Earthquake Death Toll in Dispute,” Columbia Journalism Review, January 12, 2012.

[148] See, for example, Geoffrey Dabelko and P. J. Simmons, “Environment and Security: Core Ideas and U.S. Government Initiatives,” SAIS Review (Winter/Spring 1997): 127–146; German Advisory Council on Global Change, Climate Change as a Security Risk (Oxford: Earthscan, 2007); The White House, Findings from Select Federal Reports: The National Security Implications of a Changing Climate (Washington: The White House, May 2015),

[149] Oli Brown and Alec Crawford, Climate Change and Security in Africa (Winnipeg, Canada: International Institute for Sustainable Development, 2009), 2.

[150] Oli Brown and Alec Crawford, Rising Temperatures, Rising Tensions: Climate Change and the Risk of Violent Conflict in the Middle East (Winnipeg, Canada: International Institute for Sustainable Development, 2009), 2.

[151] For discussion, see J. Oglethorpe, J. Shambaugh, and R. Kormos, “Parks in the Crossfire: Strategies for Effective Conservation in Areas of Armed Conflict,” IUCN Protected Areas Programme: Parks 14, no. 1 (2004): 2–8.

[152] G. Debonnet and K. Hillman-Smith, “Supporting Protected Areas in a Time of Political Turmoil: The Case of World Heritage Sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” IUCN Protected Areas Programme: Parks 14, no. 1 (2004): 11.

[153] See, for example, Talli Nauman, “Illegal Drugs Root of Evil for Conservation Community,” Herald Mexico, August 1, 2006; Hawley, “Drug Smugglers Curtail Scientists’ Work.”

[154] “Rio Declaration on Environment and Development,” in Report of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, June 5–16, 1972, ch. 1,

[155] These concepts are adapted from David Kriebel et al., “The Precautionary Principle in Environmental Science,” Environmental Health Perspective 109, no. 9 (September 2001): 871–876.

[156] Carolyn Raffensperger and Katherine Barrett, “In Defense of the Precautionary Principle,” Environmental Health Perspective 109, no. 9 (September 2001): 811–812.

[157] For a collection of examples, see Joel Tickner, Carolyn Raffensperger, and Nancy Myers, The Precautionary Principle in Action: A Handbook,

[158] Ministerial Declaration, Second International Conference on the Protection of the North Sea, London, November 24–25, 1987,

[159] Preamble, Montreal Protocol, 26 ILM 1541, September 16, 1987.

[160] UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UN, May 9, 1992,

[161] See Article 10 and Article 11 of the Biosafety Protocol,

[162] Article 1 of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, May 22, 2001,

[163] Communication from the Commission on the Precautionary Principle COM 1.1 Final, Commission of the European Communities, February 2, 2000.

[164] See Tickner, Raffensperger, and Myers, The Precautionary Principle in Action, 16–17.

[165] Ibid.

[166] Ibid.

[167] Personal observations by David Downie during negotiations related to the Montreal Protocol and the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

[168] Jon Van Dyke, “The Evolution and International Acceptance of the Precautionary Principle,” in Bringing New Law to Ocean Waters, eds. David Caron and Harry Scheiber (Leiden, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 2004), 357.

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Global Environmental Politics

Seventh Edition

by Pamela S. Chasek, David L. Downie, and Janet Welsh Brown

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