The emergence of global environmental politics
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The Emergence Of Global Environmental Politics. Takes Place In A Context Of National Sovereignty. Nation states can do as they wish within their own boundaries This means that addressing international environmental problems requires negotiations among sovereign states International law

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Takes place in a context of national sovereignty
Takes Place In A Context Of National Sovereignty

  • Nation states can do as they wish within their own boundaries

  • This means that addressing international environmental problems requires negotiations among sovereign states

    • International law

    • Institution building (agreements, treaties conventions, regimes)


  • Early developments

    • Regional

      • Great Lakes (Boundary Waters Treaty & the International Joint Commission – IJC)

      • Early 1900s

    • Global

      • Post-WWII

      • Whaling (International Whaling Commission - IWC)

  • Important recent milestones

    • Stockholm Conference

    • United Nations Conference on Environment and Development

Stockholm conference 1972
Stockholm Conference (1972)

  • First major UN meeting on the global environment

    • Declaration of Principles

    • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

  • Follow-up conferences on many topics (population, food, desertification)

  • North - South debate

United nations conference on environment and development 1992 unced
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 1992 (UNCED)

  • AKA the “Earth Summit” and the “Rio Conference”

  • Brundtland Commission’s report “Our Common Future (1987),” which addresses developing nations’ concerns was influential

  • Sustainable development

  • Treaties on climate change & biodiversity

  • Agenda 21 - principles & action plan

Why the recent interest
Why The Recent Interest? 1992 (UNCED)

  • International & global environmental problems

  • Post-Cold War international politics

    • Shift away from security focus

    • North-South issues

    • Quality of life issues

  • Paradigm shift

Paradigm shift
Paradigm Shift 1992 (UNCED)

  • Paradigm: a fundamental set of attitudes, beliefs, assumptions that colors a society’s way of thinking

  • Some observers argue that a change is occurring

Dominant exclusionist paradigm
Dominant (Exclusionist) 1992 (UNCED) Paradigm

  • Sees nature as existing to be exploited by humans

  • Market driven

  • Risk-seeking (or at least not risk-averse)

  • Sees no limits to growth

  • Rooted in western empiricism & technology

  • Rooted in Christianity

Alternative sustainable development paradigm
Alternative (Sustainable Development) Paradigm 1992 (UNCED)

  • Sees nature as valuable in its own right

  • Humans to live in balance with nature

  • Concerned with the degradation of environmental services

  • Risk-averse

  • Sees limits to growth, seeks environmental accounting and sustainable development

  • Rooted in nonwestern, non-Christian attitudes

Paradigm shift another view
Paradigm Shift, Another View 1992 (UNCED)

  • Is there evidence to support claims that it is really occurring?

    • Cross-national surveys

    • Reports by international commissions

Regimes not alliances
Regimes, Not Alliances 1992 (UNCED)

  • Multilateral (i.e. several nations) agreements

  • Establishing sets of rules (or of behavioral norms)

  • Regulating the participating nations’ behavior

  • On specific (sets of) issues

  • In environment, most are based upon formal agreements (conventions, protocols, etc.)

How why do they work
How & Why Do They Work? 1992 (UNCED)

  • There are several traditional models (Chasek, Downie & Brown, p. 27 - 30), but they do not seem to work well (with the partial exception of the epistemic community model) in explaining international environmental regimes

  • Nonetheless, regimes are very significant in the development & implementation of international environmental policy

Some examples
Some Examples 1992 (UNCED)

  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

  • Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution

  • Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer & The Montreal Protocol

  • See Chasek, Downie & Brown, pgs. 24 – 27 for many more

Conventions 1992 (UNCED)

  • What?

    • Multiparty treaties

    • Aimed at establishing cooperation in responding to a specific issue or set of issues

    • May be joined by additional nations after having been adopted

Conventions cont
Conventions, cont. 1992 (UNCED)

  • Terms

    • Signatories - The nations which have signed the treaty

    • Parties - The nations which have signed & ratified the agreement (i.e. are full participants in the agreement)

    • Secretariat ‑‑ The administrative body which is responsible for implementing the agreement (may be UN body, e.g. UNEP, or free standing, e.g. IJC)

Conventions cont1
Conventions, cont. 1992 (UNCED)

  • Types

    • Simple conventions (self contained)

    • Framework conventions

      • Establish basic procedures, or “rules of the game” for dealing with a problem

      • Frequently provide for a regular Conference of Parties (COP)

    • Protocols: Follow up agreements which deal with substance

      • e.g. Vienna Convention on Ozone (1985) & Montreal Protocol (1987 & 1990)

Soft law
“Soft Law” 1992 (UNCED)

  • Nonbinding agreements

  • Intended to influence nations’ behavior

  • No formal enforcement, but they can be influential

  • e.g. Agenda 21 (from Rio Conference)

Environmental treaties
Environmental Treaties 1992 (UNCED)

  • Environmental treaties are negotiated on an ad hoc basis

    • Participants are self-selected

    • One nation, one vote

  • NGOs do not vote, but

    • They often spur their governments into participating

    • They may have key implementation roles

      • Direct

      • Monitoring, resource gathering, nagging, whistle blowing

So... 1992 (UNCED)

  • Treaties with global implications may be negotiated by a minority of nations

  • Treaty negotiations may not include key nations

  • Who is bound by the treaty?