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Plan for Today: Environmental Issues in IR. E nvironmental conflict speculations and links to traditional IR theories. Assess flaws of environmental conflict framework. Introduce & critique 2nd standard framework: international regimes and agreements. Environmental Conflict.

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plan for today environmental issues in ir

Plan for Today:Environmental Issues in IR

Environmental conflict speculations and links to traditional IR theories.

Assess flaws of environmental conflict framework.

Introduce & critique 2nd standard framework: international regimes and agreements.

environmental conflict
Environmental Conflict

Because of increasing environmental problems, conflicts based on them may become more frequent and serious.

Conflicts likely more pronounced in poorer countries.

how might environmental problems lead to conflict homer dixon
How might environmental problems lead to conflict? (Homer-Dixon)
  • Changing environment shifts resources and power relations among states.
  • Poor nations become fed up and demand greater share of the world’s resources.
  • Countries fight over water supplies and effects of upstream pollution.
how might environmental problems lead to conflict
How might environmental problems lead to conflict?
  • Environmental refugees from land-use pressures/ disasters  big strains on neighbouring countries.
  • Could exacerbate tensions in other conflicts (e.g. ethnic).
neo malthusian approach
Neo-Malthusian Approach
  • Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population (1798): humans capable of overpopulation  exceed available resources.
  • This could lead to extreme strife/ conflict.
cornucopian approach
Cornucopian Approach
  • Faith that human market-driven ingenuity will produce/ substitute new resources to serve human needs and desires.
links to ir theory
Links to IR theory
  • Neo-Malthusian:
    • World is zero-sum.
    • Realism: States will be concerned about relative resource gains.
  • Cornucopian:
    • World is positive-sum: pie constantly expanding.
    • Liberalism: States will be concerned about absolute gains and ready to cooperate  liberalism.
problems with cornucopian approach homer dixon
Problems with Cornucopian Approach (Homer-Dixon)
  • In past, scarcities usually due to single problems; now complex interactions.
  • In past, gradual emergence; now rapid due to population, consumption.
  • Market-driven adaptation likely in wealthy societies, but not in poor countries where biggest problems.
  • No a priori reason to think past abilities will be like future.
problems with environmental conflict as framework for ir
Problems with Environmental Conflict as Framework for IR
  • Often many complex factors interacting; environment just one factor.
    • Hard to isolate and understand impact of environment alone.
  • Very few clear examples of environmentally based conflict.
    • May develop in future, but with few signs of imminent development, why should IR expand to include them?
environmental regimes and agreements
Environmental Regimes and Agreements

Second standard IR approach to examine global environmental issues.

environmental regimes and agreements1
Environmental Regimes and Agreements:
  • Neoliberal Approach
    • David Victor on climate change: How to overcome “law of the least ambitious program”?
      • International agreements will only create state commitments at commitment level of the least interested party. (Underdal)
      • In climate change issue, only willing to prevent catastrophic global warming effects.
environmental regimes and agreements2
Environmental Regimes and Agreements:
  • Neoliberal Approach
    • Victor’s proposed strategies to improve policy action through treaties:
      • Limit number of states involved in negotiations to those that really matter, avoid those opposing.
      • Non-binding agreements may perform better than binding ones (paradoxically).
environmental regimes and agreements3
Environmental Regimes and Agreements:
  • Liberal Constructivist Approach
    • Examining how environmental NGOs and epistemic communities (ECs) have influenced creation and shape of international agreements.
environmental regimes and agreements4
Environmental Regimes and Agreements:
  • Liberal Constructivist Approach
    • TAN approach:
      • E.g. Keck & Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders (1998) chapter on NGO influence on international agreements and IO policies re: tropical deforestation.
environmental regimes and agreements5
Environmental Regimes and Agreements:
  • Liberal Constructivist Approach
    • Epistemic communities approach:
      • Pioneered by Peter Haas.
      • EC definition: “broad coalition of actors including scientists, bureaucrats, and politicians, who share a common interpretation of the science behind a problem and the broad policy and political requirements in response” (condensed Haas 1992).
environmental regimes and agreements6
Environmental Regimes and Agreements:
  • Liberal Constructivist Approach
    • Epistemic communities approach:
      • Networks of experts have considerable power in agenda-setting and defining range of policy solutions.
      • Many environmental issues involve highly technical science and thus scientists influential in shaping agreements.
      • E.g. ozone crisis, climate change.
but are environmental agreements all that effective
But are environmental agreements all that effective?
  • International law riddled with shallow agreements that only commit states to what they would already do (Victor; Downs et al).
  • Why? In environmental issues, strong domestic eco movements & voter sentiment  incentives for symbolic but painless gestures by governments.