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Global Environmental Politics. The Rise of the Private Sector. Topics. Current affairs What is Global Environmental Politics (GEP)? Theories of IR and the environment Wednesday: Climate Change Friday: UN budget simulation. Global issues (climate change, ozone, global commons, etc.) and

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global environmental politics

Global Environmental Politics

The Rise of the Private Sector

  • Current affairs
  • What is Global Environmental Politics (GEP)?
  • Theories of IR and the environment
  • Wednesday: Climate Change
  • Friday: UN budget simulation

Hans Peter Schmitz

global environmental politics gep
Global issues (climate change, ozone, global commons, etc.) and

Transnational issues transcending borders (acid rain, biodiversity, rain forests, river pollution, etc.).

Fundamental conflict between the global environment/ecosystems and the state system.

Global Environmental Politics (GEP)

Hans Peter Schmitz

areas of gep
Areas of GEP
  • Global commons

(Examples: Atmosphere, Ozone layer, High seas and sea bed, Antarctica)

  • Shared natural resources

(Examples: Lakes, rivers, forests, desert)

  • Transnational externalities

(Examples: Acid rain, nuclear contamination)

Hans Peter Schmitz

  • Atmosphere(a global common)
    • Issues: Climate Change and Ozone Layer/Depletion
  • Biodiversity(a shared natural resource)
    • Issues: Animal and plant life/habitat protection
  • Pollution(a transnational externality)
    • Issues: Acid rain and toxic waste exports

Hans Peter Schmitz

theories of ir
Realism: Environment as a resource

Focus on conflict, scarcity, and competition

Institutionalism: Environment as a collective action problem for state cooperation

Focus on institutions

Idealism/Identity: Environment as a global challenge to the nation state

Focus on expertise (ideas) and NGOs

Theories of IR

Hans Peter Schmitz

Environment as a resource (Nau, p. 356)

Nation state is the most powerful actor and must be central to any environmental issue.

Once environmental problems cause violent conflict, military power will be central to defending the national interest.

Nations follow their self-interests (see Kyoto).

Challenging realism

Environmental problems privilege scientific knowledge and cooperation, not military power.


Hans Peter Schmitz

neoliberal institutionalism
Environment as a collective action problem(Nau, p. 355)

International institutions prevent “free riding” (impose equal and lower burden; monitoring)

International institutions facilitate exchange of information and scientific knowledge

International institutions enable non-zero sum solutions; i.e. they can promote more than one objective (Kyoto: economic growth and environmental protection).

Neoliberal institutionalism

Hans Peter Schmitz

tragedy of the commons
“Tragedy of the commons”
  • The environment as a collective good:
    • Everyone has access (global commons).
    • No one has exclusive control.
        • Example: Oceans’ fish reserves.

Collective action problem (Prisoner’s Dilemma):

    • Collective goal: Sustainable use of fish.
    • Individual goal/incentives: Every fisher/country has an incentive to ‘free ride,’ i.e. to fish as much as possible (leading to destruction of resource).

Hans Peter Schmitz

idealism identity
Environment as a challenge to the nation state system and industrialization (Nau, p. 354)

Global environment transcends the state system

Not just a question “interdependence”, but of global governance.

International institutions (as “actors”) define environmental problems.

Scientific experts (‘epistemic communities’), IGOs, and NGOs dominate the solution of environmental problems.


Hans Peter Schmitz

environmental ngo activism
Environmental NGO Activism
  • Greenpeace
  • Rainforest Action Network (Citigroup campaign)
  • Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
  • Sierra Club
  • Friends of the Earth
  • PETA
  • Worldwatch Institute

Hans Peter Schmitz

chronology of gep i
Chronology of GEP, I

1945: The environment is not mentioned in the United Nations Charter

1962: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring published

1972: The Year of the Environment

  • Club of Rome publishes The Limits of Growth
  • First United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm)
  • Creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP: based in Nairobi/Kenya)

Hans Peter Schmitz

chronology of gep ii
Chronology of GEP, II

1986: International Whaling Commission adopts a ban on whaling.


  • Montreal protocol to protect the Ozone layer signed
  • Brundtland report Our Common Future

1988: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established by WMO/UNEP

Hans Peter Schmitz

chronology of gep iii
Chronology of GEP, III

1992: Twenty years after Stockholm

  • United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Adoption of Agenda 21
  • Framework Convention on Climate Change signed

1997: Kyoto Protocol adopted

1999: First legal sale of ivory in a decade; challenges against whaling ban from Norway, Japan, Iceland, and Denmark.

2001: US ‘unsigns’ the Kyoto Protocol

Hans Peter Schmitz

principles of gep i
Principles of GEP, I
  • Sovereignty and Responsibility for the Environment
    • State sovereignty and a responsibility to protect
  • Good Neighborliness and International Cooperation
    • Requires information sharing, consultation, participation
  • Precautionary Principle
    • Lack of scientific certainty should not be a reason for not doing anything (Principle 15, Rio Declaration)
    • Actions to protect the environment must be taken even without full evidence
  • Polluter-pays Principle (Principle 16, Rio Declaration)

Hans Peter Schmitz

principles of gep ii
Principles of GEP, II
  • Common, but differentiated Responsibility
    • Balancing equality and special needs of developing nations
    • Recognition of differing capabilities
  • Sustainable Development
    • Preservation for the benefit of current and future generations
    • Rational and wise use of resources
    • Equity among and within states
    • Environmental concerns integrated in all global agreements

Hans Peter Schmitz

igos and the environment
IGOs and the Environment
  • There is no single environmental organizations in the field of global environmental politics.
  • United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)
  • Examples of environmental institutions:
    • CITES (endangered species)
    • Basel Convention (hazardous wastes)
    • Convention to Combat Desertification
    • International Whaling Commission
    • Tufts List of Global/Regional Environmental Agencies

Hans Peter Schmitz

global public private partnerships
Global Public-Private Partnerships
  • Beyond inter-state cooperation
    • Growing role of NGOs and MNCs
      • World Commission on Dams (1998-2000)
      • Forest Stewardship Council (1993- )
      • Global Reporting Initiative (1997- )

Hans Peter Schmitz

  • GEP emerges as the last major issue area for global cooperation in the 1970s.
  • Mixed results of inter-state cooperation
  • Growing role of NGOs and MNCs in regulating the environment
  • Wednesday: Climate change

Hans Peter Schmitz