Chapter in The International Politics of the Environment, Actors, Interests, and Institutions (Hurrell & Kingsbury eds. 1992)

The International Politics of the Environment: An Introduction

Benedict Kingsbury & Andrew Hurrell

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In addressing the international politics of the environment this book is concerned with the processes by which inter-state agreements on the environment are negotiated; with the rules and regimes established to facilitate environmental co-operation; with the international institutions that have been, or need to be, created to implement those rules; and with the conflicting political forces on whose resolution any successful regional or global environmental initiatives must depend. The global environmental issues discussed in this volume include climate change (chapters by Richardson, Beckerman, Cooper, Shue, Susskind and Ozawa, and Maull), ozone depletion (Bramble and Porter, and Maull), marine dumping (Stairs and Taylor), deforestation (Hurrell, Myers, and llramble and Porter), and biodiversity (Myers). The objective is not to provide detailed scientific treatment of the nature of the major environmental challenges facing the world, but rather to explore the international political forces that work to complicate the negotiation and implementation of rational environmental policies between states, to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of various institutional mechanisms by which states have sought to co-operate in managing environmental problems, and to assess their relevance for the future. Underlying this analysis is a central question: Can a fragmented and often highly conflictual political system made up of over 170 sovereign states and numerous other actors achieve the high (and historically unprecedented) levels of co-operation and policy coordination needed to manage environmental problems on a global scale?