Transnational Environmental Policy: Reconstructing Ozone

Transnational Environmental Policy: Reconstructing Ozone

Transnational Environmental Policy: Reconstructing Ozone

Transnational Environmental Policy: Reconstructing Ozone

Synopsis

Transnational Environmental Policy analyses a surprising success story in the field of international environmental policy making; the threat to the ozone layer posed by industrial chemicals, and how it has been averted. The book also raises the more general question about the problem-solving capacities of industrialised countries and the world society as a whole. Reiner Grundmann investigates the regulations which have been put in place at an international level, and how the process evolved over twenty years in the US and Germany.

Excerpt

Every year in the autumn there are fresh news reports on the ozone hole over the Antarctic. There is an almost ritual quality to the coverage, since the script always seems to be the same: in comparison with the preceding year, the hole in the ozone layer has grown or the ozone levels have reached new record lows. Obviously, only negative records are set in this area. The lay public is given the impression that too little is being done in the face of this catastrophic development. In actuality, the international community has already agreed upon measures that could solve the problem. According to the experts, however, it will be several more decades before the seasonally appearing ozone hole over the South Pole disappears (WMO 1994). This is due above all to the longevity of the ozone-destroying substances, which remain in the atmosphere for a long period after their release. Thus far the facts—paradoxical as they may seem at first—are simple: although the ozone layer initially continues to deteriorate, in the long term the measures are assumed to be successful. The matter becomes more complicated, however, if we want to understand how it became possible to arrive at binding controls in the first place.

This case study analyses a surprising success story in the field of international environmental policy making. It investigates the regulations that have been put in place at the international level and how the process evolved over twenty years in the USA and Germany. This raises the more general question about problem-solving capacities of industrialised countries. Is the international community in a position to tackle global environmental threats? Under which conditions is transnational governance without government possible? (Rosenau and Czempiel 1992).

Global ecological problems are newcomers to politics and a new research topic in the social sciences. To be sure, the 1960s saw international agreements to ban nuclear tests in the atmosphere, and back in the nineteenth century cholera and yellow fever have been the object of such attempts (Cooper 1989). Also in the 1960s, the first alarming reports about environmental problems were published. But it was not until the 1970s, with the publication of the reports of the Club of Rome, the establishment of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), and the publication of Global 2000 and the Brundtland Report (World Commission 1987, making the term ‘sustainable development’ current) that these

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