Toxic Exports: The Transfer of Hazardous Wastes from Rich to Poor Countries

Toxic Exports: The Transfer of Hazardous Wastes from Rich to Poor Countries

Toxic Exports: The Transfer of Hazardous Wastes from Rich to Poor Countries

Toxic Exports: The Transfer of Hazardous Wastes from Rich to Poor Countries

Synopsis

In recent years, international trade in toxic waste and hazardous technologies by firms in rich industrialised countries has emerged as a routine practice. Clapp describes the responses of those engaged in hazard transfer.

Excerpt

In this book I examine the transfer of hazardous wastes and technologies from rich to poor countries. I look at forces that contribute to that transfer, as well as the political responses to it. The phenomenon is a product of economic globalization in the context of a highly unequal world, and it has generated various political responses, ranging from efforts to halt exports of toxic waste to calls for the transfer of cleaner production technologies. These initiatives all have serious weaknesses, or are under threat of being weakened. The reason, I suggest, is that hazard transfer is both dynamic and multifaceted. Efforts to stop one form of toxic exports prompt new forms to emerge. The players in this cat and mouse game are not just states and the specific corporations they seek to regulate. Also important are increasingly powerful nongovernmental organizations and industry lobby groups operating at the international level.

This project had its origins in my travels in West Africa in the late 1980s, when the region was the recipient of numerous shipments of hazardous waste from rich countries. My early research into the issue quickly made clear to me that these shipments were part of a broader trend. I am grateful to Gwyn Prins and the MacArthur Foundation for giving me the chance to explore this issue in depth, on a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge. Prins's guidance and enthusiasm for the project helped launch what was initially a relatively small research program into a much larger and longer-term study.

In subsequent years, many other people contributed to this project in ways that I would like to acknowledge. I owe my deepest gratitude to Eric Helleiner, for his untiring intellectual and emotional support throughout. Special thanks are also due to those who took time out of their busy schedules to speak with me, including Harvey Alter, Julie Gourley, Scott Horne, Janice Jensen, Katharina Kummer, Klaus Lingner, Pierre Portas, Jim Puckett, Mary Clock Rust, Ellen Spitalnik, Kevin Stairs, and Jim Vallette. Jim Puckett in particular was extremely generous with his time, and provided helpful comments on last-minute drafts. I also thank a number of colleagues for their feedback and support on various papers presented at conferences of the International Studies Association and the American Political Science Association. They are Ken Conca, Peter Dauvergne . . .

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