Evolving Issues of International Law and Policy
NUS Centre for International Law series
Edited by S. Jayakumar, Tommy Koh, Robert Beckman and Hao Duy Phan
Chapter 9: Transboundary air pollution: a tale of two paradigms
International law offers two paradigms for addressing transboundary air pollution: the Trail Smelter arbitration case of 1941 and the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution of 1979 (LRTAP). The first of these paradigms is concerned with an identifiable source of transboundary pollution that could be addressed within the framework of bilateral relations. The second paradigm locates transboundary air pollution within a broader regional context and addresses it through the mechanism of evolutionary regimes of multilateral regulation exemplified by LRTAP. The benefits can be observed in the increasingly complex and largely successful structure of protocols built onto the LRTAP framework convention, dealing with a range of widely dispersed air pollutants. The point that is most relevant in Asia is the absence of any comparable regional regime on this continent, despite the growing and obvious problem of transboundary air pollution on a regional scale, caused in particular by Chinese and Indian emissions and the continued growth in fossil fuel consumption.
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