Global Environmental Governance

Matthew Paterson

in International Society and its Critics

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780199265206
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601866 | DOI:
Global Environmental Governance

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The environment has emerged as a key issue in global politics since the early 1970s, and the issues that comprise the ‘environmental crisis’ are widely regarded to have had significant impacts on international politics. At the same time, the international society or English School of International Relations tradition has rarely had much explicit to say regarding the implications of environmental degradation for International Relations, although at a first look, it is a surprise that English School authors have not looked to environmental politics for sources of support for their arguments. This chapter attempts to elaborate how such an engagement between international environmental politics and the English School might develop. It begins with an elaboration of Hedley Bull's (1977) passage on the environment in The Anarchical Society, and then proceeds through a discussion of contemporary accounts of ‘global environmental governance’, in terms of programmatic reform, international regimes, multilevel governance, deterritorialization, and corporate governance and governance from below. The conclusion reached is that despite a superficial attraction, discussions of global environmental governance undermine the image of international society in English School accounts in two principal ways: first, they show that thinking about international society (its norms, the tensions and conversation between the three traditions in English School, and so on) is limited by the lack of understanding of the specifically capitalist character of the states‐system; and second, they show that the image given in Bull – that any alternatives to the states‐system tend to founder on the claim that states will not voluntarily cede their authority – is misplaced, for practices of global governance are emerging in the environmental field that operate outside the states‐system but where states have never given permission in the manner envisaged by Bull and others to be necessary.

Keywords: English School of International Relations; environmental degradation; environmental politics; global environmental governance; global governance; international environmental politics; international politics; international relations; international society; states‐system

Chapter.  7916 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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