Consequences and Management of Regime Interactions
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Chapter 1: Introduction
Comprehension of the interconnectedness of human behaviour and the natural environment poses a crucial challenge in our efforts to govern global environmental problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation and ozone depletion. Although the causes and consequences of, and responses to, these problems are inevitably linked with each other and with other issue areas, laws and policies at various levels of governance have largely developed in isolation. This has led to a mismatch between the simplified way in which humans govern their relationship with the environment and the complexity of biogeophysical systems. In an era of globalization, governing human behaviour not only has to account for the world's ecological interconnectedness but also for social, economic and political interdependence. In essence, this book is about coping with the resulting socio-ecological complexity in global environmental governance. The challenge of dealing with socio-ecological complexity is especially profound in the governance of global climate change. Climate change can be considered a 'wicked problem' par excellence. In part, this is because there is no clear definition of what the 'problem' is. Is it, for instance, about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, about phasing out fossil fuel use, or is the problem bigger than that, for example the continued insistence on economic growth? Similarly, there is no simple 'solution' for the climate change problem, as solving the problem of climate change will depend on how one defines the problem in the first place. Any solution will thus be subject to value judgements.