Green Planet Blues: Environmental Politics from Stockholm to Tyoto

By Ken Conca; Geoffrey D. Dabelko et al. | Go to book overview

RUTH GREENSPAN BELL


14
Do International
Environmental Agreements
Really Work ?

The agreement in Kyoto on climate change has added one more set of requirements to the 900 or so international environmental agreements that countries around the world are struggling to meet. Research by the General Accounting Office indicates that the U.S. participates in or has a significant interest in more than 170 of these agreements. Few of the standing agreements, which cover matters as diverse as fisheries, biological resources, outer space, water and air pollution, address problems as global as greenhouse gas emissions in both its impacts and in the wide range of remedial measures that must be undertaken to get the problem under control.

However, the implementation record for many existing agreements has been mixed at best. Frustration with the rate of implementation has brought criticism of the international environmental regime, which is sometimes characterized as hopelessly idealistic or a form of antiquated central planning (e.g. A. Terry Rambo , The Fallacy of Global Sustainable Development, East-West Center, March 1997). No one to my knowledge has suggested entirely scrapping the system. The international agreement is currently the only tool we have to decide how to manage environmental problems that cross borders. Constructive criticism of the

____________________
Originally published in Weathervane, an on-line discussion forum of Resources for the Future (www.rff.org). Reprinted with permission.

-149-

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