Environment and Statecraft: The Strategy of Environmental Treaty-Making

By Scott Barrett | Go to book overview

8 The Montreal Protocol

[T]he ozone agreement is, I believe, the beginning of a new era of environmental statesmanship—one that takes into account the complexities, the uncertainties, and the differences, in economic interest that in the past have limited concerted environmental action by nations. Mostafa K. Tolba, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (1987) 1


8.1 INTRODUCTION

If the theory begun in the previous chapter is to be of real utility, it must be able to explain the Montreal Protocol's success. To be more precise, it must be able to explain why Montreal appears to have been successful. “Success, of course, is an elusive concept in this context. As we do not know what the world would have done about stratospheric ozone depletion had countries pursued only unilateral policies, we cannot be sure whether Montreal really has made a difference. This again is something that the theory should be able to tell us.

Of course, I can do no more than show that the theory is not wrong. Moreover, there are other explanations for the Montreal Protocol's apparent success; and as I proceed, I shall distinguish my explanation from these. My assessment in this chapter will also be preliminary. I have only begun to build the theory of international cooperation. I limit my focus in this chapter to providing background and to showing the relevance of the theory presented thus far. As the theory is developed in later chapters, my explanation for the Montreal phenomenon will be rounded out. It will not be completed until Chapter 13 .

The discussion of the Montreal Protocol, here and in later chapters, is selective. It is meant to complement, and not to substitute for, Richard Benedick's brilliant Ozone Diplomacy, an insider's view of the talks and of the underlying negotiation process (Benedick was the chief US negotiator at Montreal). I shall, in particular, emphasize aspects of this treaty that Benedick gives less weight to, re-framing features of the agreement to reveal their strategic roles. Whereas Benedick (1998 : xi) provides “a case study of the diplomatic craft, one that can serve “as a paradigm for new diplomatic approaches to new kinds of international challenges, I come at this topic from the opposite direction. My approach is to build a theory from first principles, and to then apply the theory to Montreal and other cases. Whereas Benedick's book is rich in detail, the theory I develop in this book is sparse. Whereas Benedick describes the

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