Global Environmental Regulation
Why International Environmental Agreements Fail and How to Fix Them In the last thirty years, environmental problems have Joined nuclear proliferation, terrorism, economic stability and human rights initiatives as some of the most pressing issues facing the international community. Environmental concerns like global warming, depletion of the ozone and an increasing activism to protect natural resources involve many actors and institutions, and thus to successfully address these problems requires the synthesis of both individual states and international agreements.
While multilateral international agreements are often imperfect, most nvironmental legislation has been particularly ineffective at curbing global problems”the world’s level of pollution is the highest it has been since the 1960’s despite over forty international environmental agreements in the last three decades alone [Terry, Jim. “Multilateral Agreements–Kyoto Protocol] . The unique failure of much of this legislation is because of both an inability to prevent states to not comply with the agreement and a lack of institutional monitoring outlined in the agreement itself.
Global Environmental Regulation Essay Example
This essay will examine these issues through political economic theory as well n the analysis in two major environmental agreements: the Montreal Protocol in 1987 and the Kyoto Protocol ratified in 1997. In addition, this essay will also suggest specific recommendations to make multilateral environmental legislation more effective in the future [Terry, Jim. “Multilateral Agreements–Kyoto Protocol]. First, it is important to recognize what separates environmental legislation from other international treaties.
The dilemma facing international environmental agreements is that each country is reluctant to bear costs to protect the environment, ut all agree that if every country took this stance, the environmental issues would go unresolved. Furthermore, each country’s actions affect the environment individually, and therefore to properly solve any environmental issue requires the cooperation and participation from many countries.
In other words, unilateral action from the United States to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions from factories will not be successful on a global level if other polluting countries like China and Russia do not become involved as well [Terry, Jim. “Multilateral Agreements–Kyoto Protocol]. This s especially difficult given the diverse interests of states and there unique abilities to bear costs.
Most significantly, the environment is a public good, or something that is non-excludable and non-rival, and therefore it is very difficult to monitor when an actor abuses the environment and how exactly to resolve the issue when a sovereign body does not exist to govern the public good. In multilateral environmental agreements, non-compliance of states is usually the main reason for the treaty’s failure. This is due to the necessity of collective action to solve environmental problems.
Addressing environmental concerns on a global scale requires immense participation from states because they all contribute to environmental problems, yet unlike other multilateral agreements, environmental collectively on environmental legislation, which is problematic for two reasons: states are unequal economically and do not want to bear the same environmental costs as other states who can perhaps better afford it and countries do not want to participate in a treaty where other countries are free-riding, or not bearing the costs of protecting the environment but benefiting from the legislation
Consider the economic differences between the United States and Brazil in an agreement limiting deforestation. The United States may be in favor of this agreement because they view protecting forests as worth the economic cost, but Brazil, whose economy is more dependent on lumber and other industries who rely on destroying forests, may be more hesitant. Even though the United States is willing to bear the price of protecting the environment, Brazil does not have the same economic advantages and therefore would not be in favor of such an agreement.
Brazil is one of the main violators of natural forest destruction and there articipation is crucial to the success of the treaty. In the developing world, many countries depend on industries that harm the environment, such as manufacturing and mining, and creating environmental restrictions would create economic losses for poor workers. As such, third world countries are given the choice between enduring financial restrictions that directly hurts the country and enduring restrictions to save the environment.
Therefore, even when multiple states participate in environmental agreements, the states that often contribute most to the environmental issue are not involved because they are not willing to substitute conomic profit for environmental stability. One problem with collective action in international politics is that many states are able to reap the positive outcomes over an agreement without actually following the stipulations required by the legislation.
When the collective action attempts to regulate a non-rival and non-excludable good like the environment, states are able to free-ride fairly undetected. From a game theory perspective, it is easy to understand why states would defect in environmental agreements”in most multilateral treaties it is difficult to measure when a state defects and there is rarely any punishment for efecting.
Therefore, despite the fact that most international environmental agreements are ratified by many countries, a significant enough proportion of those countries defect from their commitments outlined that the legislation is largely ineffective. As such, many countries are not enthused to Join environmental coalitions because they do not want to pay more than other free-riding actors and the legislation suffers because of a lack of commitment by the international community. Another large obstacle that hinders the success of international environmental agreements is the lack of oversight.
Because each country is sovereign of its own territory only and no world government exists to enforce compliance on treaties, there is no institution that can monitor whether each country is abiding by the guidelines of the environmental treaty. Because of this, in most environmental on the state’s own government. The individual state has economic incentives to not self monitor and carry on with the status quo and this leads to a lack of monitoring and a general failure of the agreement overall.
There are technological and domestic factors which also lead to poor regulation in environmental treaties. Some environmental issues, specifically climate change and airborne pollutants, are difficult to measure and the technology designed to study these issues does not provide conclusive evidence of whether implemented changes have taken a real effect. Within states, pressure to not monitor certain international environmental treaties from special interest groups such as coal and oil also may lead to a lack of oversight as well [Daniel, Grabriel. crucial crossroads. ” Our Planet (2008)]. One of the most successful international environmental agreements is the Montreal Protocol, ratified in 1987. This treaty, which was designed to combat ozone depletion by reducing and ultimately eliminating halogenated hydrocarbons found in hairspray and fire extinguishers, was very effective because it eliminated collective action problems, monitoring problems and for the most part, the free-rider problem.
First off, the Montreal Protocols set each state’s effort in reducing hydrocarbons based on lowering the percentage of the chemical it already produced, making the cost relatively equal and fair for each country involved [Sean, Cumberledge. “Multilateral Environmental Agreements]. The agreement also made accommodations to assist developing countries whose industries produced hydrocarbons by creating a Multilateral Fund, where each participating non third world country is legally obligated to provide assistance to countries who are financially needy.
This fund helped curb the free-rider problem as well as the economic inequality problem. Lastly, the Montreal Protocol created ozone panels in different parts of the world with trained scientists that allowed the iterated monitoring of hydrocarbon levels and a free flow of information across different tates. Because this treaty was able to successfully able to reduce free-riding and provide stable monitoring, the Montreal Protocol has achieved an overall compliance rating of 99%, a measure of how successful each actor is in reaching the goals outlined in the agreement [Sean, Cumberledge. Multilateral Environmental Agreements]. Another international agreement that enjoyed considerably less success than the Montreal Protocol is the Kyoto Protocol, which was ratified in 1997. Unlike the Montreal Protocol which attempted to tackle a specific problem like harmful ydrocarbons in the atmosphere, the Kyoto Protocol was designed to reduce the amount of a broad group of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur and others.
While this treaty was ratified by 187 different countries, it remains fairly unsuccessful because of the unrealistic aims, the ability for a country to easily defect and its failure to include China and India. The Kyoto Protocol calls on developed countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by about ten percent every fifteen years, yet scientists attest that he only way this prediction would be feasible would be if economic growth was to producing more greenhouse gases than their levels at the time the treaty was ratified, let alone ten percent less [Sean, Cumberledge. Multilateral Environmental Agreements]. A failure to set achievable goals makes the agreement lose authority and importance, and encourages states to defect. While the Kyoto Protocol created a commission designed to punish economically countries that violate the agreements outlined in the legislation, the commission is limited to punishing members of the Kyoto Protocol [Daniel, Grabriel. crucial crossroads. ” Our Planet (2008)]. Therefore, a state can simply leave the Protocol to avoid a punishment, a weak institutional policy that does not punish those who abuse the guidelines of the treaty.
Finally, a main provision of the Kyoto Protocol that ensured it as an environmental agreement disaster was its failure to include India and China, deeming them unnecessary because at the time they did not consider China and India developed countries. Because they did not have the foresight to imagine China and India becoming economic powerhouses in the future, the entire treaty suffers because both countries re leading producers of greenhouse gases [Sean, Cumberledge. “Multilateral Environmental Agreements].
Ultimately, it is very difficult to produce a successful environmental agreement. However, there are certain fundamental traits that a multilateral treaty can possess to ensure it being successful. First of all, in order to curb free-rider problems, it is necessary that environmental treaties contain both incentives that boost participation and punishments to reduce defection from responsibilities. In addition, it is necessary that all actors view the agreement as fair and that the goals seem ttainable.
Lastly, it is vital that an institution is created is able to successfully and adequately monitor progress and implementation within the states. Environmental regulation is difficult to achieve not only because of the collective action, but because of the fact that it is essentially a problem that takes a long time to realize the results, if you are able to see the results at all. Many problems effect the world that require immediate attention, terrorism, economic turmoil and environmental problems often take the backseat to dilemmas that need to be solved ight away.