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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 8: Why Environmental Politics Looks Different from the South

Adil Najam


Adil Najam The ‘North–South’ divide, ostensibly signifying the differences between the more industrialized economies of the global ‘North’ and the relatively less developed and developing countries of the global ‘South’, has been, and continues to be, a defining feature of global environmental politics.1 The goal of this chapter is to understand why North–South differences have been as prominent in international environmental politics as they have. We shall do so explicitly from the perspective of the collective South. This is not to suggest that individual developing countries are unimportant in environmental politics, nor to presume that they indulge in environmental politics only through the collectivity of the global South. All developing countries (like all industrialized ones) seek their national self-interest in international politics, and many have come to play an increasingly important individual role in global environmental issues. However all of them continue to operate partly (and to varying extents) within the frameworks of the collective arrangements of the South, most notably the Group of 77 (G77). Moreover, since scholars and practitioners routinely talk and act within the language of alleged ‘North– South’ relations, it is only fair that we try to understand the meaning behind this language. Our focus, more than anything else, is on North–South environmental politics. It is the contention of this chapter that it is not only that the conditions of the North and South are different (one is rich and the other poor), nor only that their interests are dissimilar (each has...

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