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Edited by Hein-Anton van der Heijden
Chapter 17: The environmental movement
There is strong evidence that the environmental movement has been the most influential of all social movements of the past half-century, at least in Western countries. If we make a distinction between substantive, procedural, structural, and sensitizing impacts, this argument could be firmly buttressed. As for substantive impacts, no movement has so decisively influenced political decision-making at the subnational, national, and transnational levels. Examples include law-making with respect to the pollution of air, water, and soil; preventing the construction of highways through pristine nature reserves; diminishing the role of nuclear energy; restricting the use of genetically modified organisms; and so on. Without environmental movements the world would have looked unrecognizably different. Procedural impacts refer to the access a social movement or social movement organization (SMO) has to the subnational, national, and transnational political systems, for instance, by their participation in consultation or negotiation procedures. Examples include the formal recognition of environmental movement organizations (EMOs) in local, regional, and national decision-making procedures; the frequent meetings of the ten most important Europe-level EMOs (‘G10’) in Brussels with the Cabinet of the Environmental Commissioner and even with the President of the European Commission; and the involvement of transnational EMOs in the negotiations on multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) with respect to, for instance, climate change and biodiversity protection.
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