Comparative Environmental Politics

Comparative Environmental Politics: Theory, Practice, and Prospects

Paul F. Steinberg
Stacy D. VanDeveer
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 440
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  • Book Info
    Comparative Environmental Politics
    Book Description:

    How do different societies respond politically to environmental problems around the globe? Answering this question requires systematic, cross-national comparisons of political institutions, regulatory styles, and state-society relations. The field of comparative environmental politics approaches this task by bringing the theoretical tools of comparative politics to bear on the substantive concerns of environmental policy. This book outlines a comparative environmental politics framework and applies it to concrete, real-world problems of politics and environmental management. After a comprehensive review of the literature exploring domestic environmental politics around the world, the book provides a sample of major currents within the field, showing how environmental politics intersects with such topics as the greening of the state, the rise of social movements and green parties, European Union expansion, corporate social responsibility, federalism, political instability, management of local commons, and policymaking under democratic and authoritarian regimes. It offers fresh insights into environmental problems ranging from climate change to water scarcity and the disappearance of tropical forests, and it examines actions by state and nonstate actors at levels from the local to the continental. The book will help scholars and policymakers make sense of how environmental issues and politics are connected around the globe, and is ideal for use in upper-level undergraduateand graduate courses.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30115-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)

    The study of comparative environmental politics and policy dates back at least to the 1970s, when scholars began to compare systematically the way different countries dealt with environmental problems of the time. As interest in the environment and environmental policy grew over the succeeding decades, comparative studies lagged to some extent. Certainly, we have had no shortage of analyses of individual nations and a large number of edited collections examine environmental politics and policy across both developed and developing nations. What has been relatively rare, however, are truly comparative studies—particularly those well grounded in theory—that build on the...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. List of Contributors
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. I Building Bridges:: Comparative Politics and the Environment
    • 1 Comparative Environmental Politics in a Global World
      (pp. 3-28)
      Paul F. Steinberg and Stacy D. VanDeveer

      At first glance, the Maine lobster industry and traditional forest users in western Uganda would appear to have little in common. Yet upon closer examination—and with the benefit of the right analytic tools—patterns emerge that suggest common elements of social organization and similar challenges. In each area, resource users have collectively devised rules to manage a shared resource—controlling access, defining property rights, and establishing a monitoring and enforcement regime. In Maine, coastal territory has traditionally been controlled by groups of fishers known as “harbor gangs” who operate under a strong conservation ethic and well-known norms of territoriality...

    • 2 Bridging Archipelagos: Connecting Comparative Politics and Environmental Politics
      (pp. 29-60)
      Paul F. Steinberg and Stacy D. VanDeveer

      Systematic comparisons of domestic environmental politics allow us to move beyond ill-defined exhortations to “save the planet” toward a greater understanding of the vast array of social responses to environmental problems in diverse countries around the globe. With the help of conceptual tools that enable meaningful comparisons across national borders, we can gain insights into the cause-and-effect relationships that lead states and social actors to practice or ignore environmental stewardship, at a level of resolution much different from that of research analyzing the positions of national delegations during international treaty negotiations.

      To take advantage of the potential synergies between comparative...

  7. II Greening States and Societies
    • 3 Greening the State?
      (pp. 63-88)
      James Meadowcroft

      The constitution of the environmental domain as a distinct sphere of government activity is a comparatively recent phenomenon. It was only in the late 1960s and early 1970s that governments across the developed world moved decisively to put in place the foundations of the system of national environmental controls we know today (Janicke and Weidner 1997; Hanf and Jansen 1998). Since this takeoff phase, environmental government has continued to evolve, as the range of issues with which it is concerned has grown, its linkages with other areas of government activity have extended, and new strategies and instruments have found favor...

    • 4 The Globalization of Environmental Concern
      (pp. 89-112)
      Riley E. Dunlap and Richard York

      Conventional wisdom has long held that widespread citizen awareness of environmental problems and support for environmental protection were phenomena limited to wealthy, highly industrialized, and primarily Northern Hemisphere nations. The early emergence of environmentalism and green parties in North America and Northern European countries lent support to this view, as did the wary reaction of poorer nations to the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm (see, e.g., Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 1972). Shortly after Stockholm, a prominent conservative economist captured conventional thinking when he wrote, “Poor people will naturally have a greater incentive to give priority...

  8. III Nonstate Actors and Social Mobilization
    • 5 The Comparative Study of Environmental Movements
      (pp. 115-142)
      Kate O’Neill

      For almost twenty years, the Goldman Environmental Prize has been awarded annually to individuals from six continents engaged in environmental activism in their native countries. Recent winners include a Russian working to protect Lake Baikal from pollution, a Belgian who helped establish that country’s first national park, a Mexican working with indigenous agricultural techniques to restore farmland, a musician from Mozambique bringing basic education and sanitation technology to remote areas, and two Ecuadorians fighting for reparations from the oil multinational Chevron. As of 2010, the prize had been awarded to 126 individuals from different parts of the world, illustrating both...

    • 6 Business-State Relations and the Environment: The Evolving Role of Corporate Social Responsibility
      (pp. 143-170)
      Deborah Rigling Gallagher and Erika Weinthal

      In both environmental studies and comparative political economy, the corporation is a central actor affecting political and economic outcomes (for excellent overviews, see Kraft and Kamieniecki 2007; Haggard, Maxfield, and Schneider 1997). A large body of literature assumes that in developed and developing countries alike, business interests can capture the state and shape institutional outcomes so as to promote their narrow economic interests and personal gain (see, e.g., Hellman et al. 2000; Kang 2002; Keohane, Revesz, and Stavins 1998). Yet the field of comparative environmental politics shows that regulatory policy in the twenty-first century is much more multifaceted than previously...

    • 7 Political Parties and the “Meaning of Greening” in European Politics
      (pp. 171-196)
      Michael O’Neill

      The first deputy to win a seat in a national parliament anywhere in the world under green party colors did so in Switzerland in October 1979. By the end of the millennium, green parties had secured representation in almost every western European legislature. There has also been a bloc of greens in the European Parliament since the elections of 1984. The rise of green parties was one response to rising anxieties over problems affecting the global commons, from resource depletion to nuclear accidents, climate change, energy shortfalls, and water shortages. What began as localized citizen action developed over time into...

  9. IV Institutional Effectiveness across Political Systems
    • 8 Democracy and the Environment in Latin America and Eastern Europe
      (pp. 199-230)
      Kathryn Hochstetler

      Environmental politics is not just a technical policy area that operates the same way in all countries. Instead, one of the most important insights that the study ofcomparativeenvironmental politics brings to research on the global environment is that the nature of the larger political system that surrounds environmental policymaking is critical for the kinds of environmental policies that are made, who makes them, how well they will be carried out—and even if they will exist at all. This chapter argues that whether political institutions are democratic or authoritarian affects how well the environment is protected. Why would...

    • 9 Institutional Change in Authoritarian Regimes: Water and the State in Egypt
      (pp. 231-254)
      Jeannie Sowers

      Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation is an imposing, multistory concrete building in Cairo, on the bank of the Nile River, surrounded by gates, with a small lawn and fountain on the interior.¹ It towers above the surrounding neighborhood of Imbaba, a densely populated district that attained notoriety in 1992 when the Mubarak regime besieged Islamic militants in its narrow streets. In the aftermath, the government tried to upgrade the area, providing piped water and sewage lines in a bid to forestall further unrest.

      Egypt’s irrigation system is one of the oldest in the world and has long required...

    • 10 Welcome to the Jungle: Policy Theory and Political Instability
      (pp. 255-284)
      Paul F. Steinberg

      Environmental politics is fundamentally about social change—in values, behaviors, patterns of economic activity and, crucially, in political institutions. The transformative aspirations of environmental politics are part of what makes this such an exciting arena for students and social reformers alike and a fertile opportunity for pairing the substantive concerns of environmental studies with the analytic tools of comparative political inquiry.

      A crucial part of this social transformation is policy change, including the creation and reform of environmental laws, regulations, agencies, and government programs. Environmental problems are often the result of market failures and collective action problems, and their resolution...

  10. V Comparative Multilevel Governance
    • 11 EU Expansion and the Internationalization of Environmental Politics in Central and Eastern Europe
      (pp. 287-312)
      Liliana B. Andonova and Stacy D. VanDeveer

      The countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have experienced a profound integration in international and regional institutions in the last twenty years. Environmental cooperation was an important aspect of the long journey from the relative isolation of the former communist countries from the Western world to full membership in the European Union and participation in hundreds of multilateral treaties and institutions. What has been the impact of international cooperation on domestic environmental politics? Under what conditions does international cooperation contribute to converging trends in domestic environmental policies and institutions? Under what conditions does divergence persist?

      This chapter examines the...

    • 12 Local Institutions and the Governance of Forest Commons
      (pp. 313-340)
      Arun Agrawal

      In the past two decades, scholarly writings on commons and common property have led to one of the more productive research programs in the social sciences. This program comprises thousands of peer-reviewed articles, new research on collective action, social-ecological systems, and cross-scale sociopolitical interactions, a solid body of findings based on rigorous investigations and thriving debates, and translation of these findings into new resource management policies that cover the developing world. The principal exponent of this work, Elinor Ostrom, won the Nobel Prize in the Economic Sciences in 2009, in striking testimony to the enduring importance of this research. This...

    • 13 Federalism, Multilevel Governance, and Climate Change Politics across the Atlantic
      (pp. 341-368)
      Henrik Selin and Stacy D. VanDeveer

      Human activities and their many byproducts are changing the climate of our planet. These changes, like the contributions of different countries and communities to climate change, vary substantially around the world. Every year, the average US citizen pushes almost 20 tons of carbon into the atmosphere while Europeans, Chinese, and Indians average about 8.5, 5.7, and 1.4 tons, respectively (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency 2009). Political systems respond very differently to climate change issues. Some countries and local communities have acted to slow and reverse their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; others have ignored the problem or refused to act. Often, those...

  11. VI Future Directions
    • 14 Comparative Theory and Environmental Practice: Toward Doubly Engaged Social Science
      (pp. 371-404)
      Paul F. Steinberg and Stacy D. VanDeveer

      Participants in environmental studies programs typically approach research with a set of pressing real-world concerns that they hope will be illuminated with further study. What will it take to reverse trends toward the extinction of fish populations worldwide? How can we protect biodiversity while promoting rural livelihoods? Can business be greened to help reduce carbon emissions?

      Students of comparative politics, on the other hand, approach the world with very different kinds of questions: why does democracy thrive in some parts of the world and not in others? Under what conditions do social movements have an influence on government policy? Where...

  12. Index
    (pp. 405-424)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 425-426)