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Political Science
PSCI 1100
Hans Martin Jaeger

POLITICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT INTRO: • Rise of environmental consciousness since 1960s • Ecocentric vs. anthropocentric approaches to env. • Globalization: increasingly transnational and global environmental problems • Inherent connection btw. env. issues and other issues in world politics (e.g. distribution of wealth/poverty, energy/industry, security) ALSO, CONNECTIONS OF ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES WITH ... • Ideologies (liberalism, socialism, conservatism). Socialism advocates exploiting nature. Conservatives don’t say much about the issue- it’s been states that they should care more about the issue; but to little avail (Canada and other countries) • States, international organizations & civil society. Questions capacity of change. Enviro stewardship. A great # of less known enviro orgs are involved in enviro politics ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT: • state sovereignty and state capacity. Island states are most vulnerable to enviro change. Most leaders have lost sovereignty already • distinction btw. international and domestic issues. Some issues are local- but for many there’s no distinction between international and domestic issues • role of science (and experts) in politics. If we really want to do something about enviro issues, we may have to overrule democracy. (enviro dictatorship) • (global) justice and inequality. Rich people in rich country cause more enviro damage, yet poor people in poor countries suffer from the damage more → ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS = post(inter)national politics? CONCEPTUAL FOUNDATIONS OF ENVIRO PROBS: (1)The “tragedy of the commons” (G. Hardin, 1968): Overuse of common resources due to self-interest (conflict btw. individual and collective rationality)  Malthusian theory- will there be enough food to feed the entire population?  Suggested population control  Privatization of resources- allowing indivs to take their own shares  If they have responsibility, they’ll make sure their cattle won’t overgraze, and each will take care of their own part  Central regulation- allocate certain quotas  One farmer graze their green at a community green, then they must move to their own- people take turns  Decentralized resource management: local people are smart enough to realize that if they overgraze the commons, they’ll only hurt themselves (2) Sustainable development (Brundtland Commission, 1987):  Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Intergeneration equity is examined  Limits to growth considered economic growth in new ways  Sustainable development is a compromise b/w econ growth and enviro protection  Reconcile env. protection and economic growth (3) Other proposed (but contested) foundations: • precautionary principle. One should act in the face of enviro threat even if signs are inconclusive. Authorities should prevent enviro damage rather than risk it. Very contested • common but differentiated responsibilities. Also contested- north/south politics b/w developed and developing countries. All countries share responsibility for enviro probs, but since developed contribute to more of it, they should have a greater responsibility of trying to solve them. • Heart of the climate change debate- argues that some of the major GHG emitters should have a larger role in finding a solution (china, india, brazil) • But those three can tell Canada, US, and Russia to start because they bear an even larger responsibility • The US changes the principle by arguing that china brazil and india should not have fewer responsibilities HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL ENVIRO POLITICS: (1) From the Industrial Revolution to the 20 century • some of the oldest international organizations in international environmental politics. (e.g. Rhine and Danube River Commissions, 19 c.; th International Whaling Commission, 1946; • Int’l Union for the Conservation of Nature, 1948): includes gvnt and NGOs • no “environmental politics” as such until 1960s/70s (2) Stockholm and beyond (1972-1992): UN Conference on the Human Env. (Stockholm 1972): big bang for enviro politics  involvement of civil societies, New principles/norms • “common heritage of mankind”. 1) Did give states sovereignty over their own natural resources, but also to pay attention to negative externalities. 2) All resources that fall outside boarders of state are considered common heritage of human kind and subject to regulation • “common but differentiated responsibilities”. Articulated for the first time. Any kind of enviro regulations shouldn’t come at the expense of the enviro. sustainable development in 1980 came into play New institutions • UN Environment Program
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