How do international environmental standards come into being? One important way, as Elizabeth DeSombre shows in this book, is through the internationalization of regulations that one or more countries have undertaken domestically. Domestic environmental regulation, DeSombre argues, can create an incentive for environmentalists and industry—previously at odds with each other—to work together to shape international environmental policy. For environmentalists, international regulation offers greater protection of a resource. For industry, internationalization prevents unregulated foreign industries from operating at a competitive advantage. Domestic forces acting together often push for the threat or imposition of economic restrictions on countries resisting regulation.
DeSombre examines this dynamic primarily from the perspective of United States environmental policy. Looking at major regulations on endangered species, air pollution, and fisheries conservation, she determines which ones the United States has attempted to internationalize and how successful the attempts have been. She underlines the importance of regulated industries in the creation of international environmental policy and presents evidence that power and threat play a significant role in the adoption of international regulations, despite the perception of international environmental politics as an arena of friendly interaction over mutual interests. She also discusses the origins of international cooperation, the regulatory effects of free trade, the usefulness of economic sanctions, and the interaction between domestic and international politics. Thus the book has theoretical implications for the fields of environmental politics and policy, international diplomacy, and international political economy.
About the Author
Elizabeth R. DeSombre is Camilla Chandler Frost Professor of Environmental Studies and Director of the Environmental Studies Program at Wellesley College. She is the author of Flagging Standards: Globalization and Environmental, Safety, and Labor Regulations at Sea (MIT Press, 2006) and other books.
Winner of the 2000 Chadwick F. Alger Award presented by the International Studies Association (ISA).