January 9, 2012

Flexible and Robust International Environment Treaties Can Help Solve Global Environmental Problems

Filed under: climate, INECE Secretariat — inece @ 5:12 pm

Washington, DC, January 2012 – With the adverse impacts of climate change and threats of other serious environmental impacts growing ever nearer, there has never been a greater demand for international environmental governance, including through multilateral environmental agreements.

But in difficult economic times, it is important to understand how to provide more environmental governance without more government, including through trans-governmental networks such as INECE, and other networked regime complexes, according to Dr. Oran Young of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara.

In a paper published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Dr. Young explains that often “regime complexes” can provide the most effective governance:

“Many issue areas (e.g., climate, biodiversity, and marine pollution) feature networks of distinct regimes …that grow up over time in the absence of an overall blueprint. … Regime complexes offer the advantage of being more flexible across issues and adaptable over time than more tightly coupled governance systems. They may be easier to create than fully integrated systems and more resilient to the sorts of stresses occurring at the international or global level today.”

Dr. Young notes that the Montreal Protocol as an example of an effective regime.  The Montreal Protocol is a dynamic treaty that continues to evolve, to improve, and to grow stronger, phasing out almost 100 ozone-depleting substances and placing the ozone layer on a path to recovery later this century.  It also has provided a net of 135 billion tones of CO2-eq since 1990, more than ten times the mitigation of Kyoto in its first commitment period.  Other successful regimes Dr. Young mentions are the governance system for the Antarctica, and the multilateral system to clean up the Rhine River.

In addition to formal compliance systems, Dr. Young notes that “Other factors, such as the extent to which subjects have engaged actively in the process of regime creation and the extent to which they feel that a regime constitutes a fair deal, can make a big difference in inducing actors to comply….”

The abstract is available here: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/11/30/1111690108.abstract

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