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Handbook of Global Environmental Politics

Edited by Peter Dauvergne

The first Handbook of original articles by leading scholars of global environmental politics, this landmark volume maps the latest theoretical and empirical research in this young and growing field. Captured here are the dynamic and energetic debates over concerns for the health of the planet and how they might best be addressed.
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Chapter 21: The Environment, Trade and International Organizations

J. Samuel Barkin


J. Samuel Barkin The relationship between the international trading system and international environmental politics is one that is clearly of great importance to questions of global environmental management. This importance is reflected by a significant and growing body of literature dealing with the question of the compatibility of the rules of the international trade regime and the imperatives of international environmental management. Much of this literature, from within both the academic and the activist communities, has tended to paint a stark opposition between the goals of the community of scholars and activists focusing on international environmental issues, and the goals of the international trading system, as embodied in the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is true both of those who would not have environmental concerns interfere with the liberalization of international trade and commerce and those who would not have concerns of trade liberalization interfere with sound management of the global ecosphere. Yet, at the same time, there is a growing recognition that some common ground must be found on these issues, where the demands of international trade and environmental management can be dealt with constructively (Smith, 1993; Shahin, 2002). One way of dealing with the tension between the international trade and environmental regimes is to change the institutional structures through which they interact, by creating a World Environmental Organization (WEO) that would be the institutional equivalent for the environment to the WTO for trade (for example, Esty, 1994; French, 1994; Runge, 1994; Charnovitz, 1995; Biermann, 2000). Interestingly...

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